Ivana Stefanović (1948, Serbia) studied the violin and composition, the latter with Enriko Josif, completing her degree in 1975. She was further educated in Paris, at IRCAM, between 1979 and 1981. From 1966 until 1991, she worked as music editor at the Drama Programme of Radio Belgrade, where she founded the Workshop of Sound, and in 1989 became music editor at Radio Belgrade 1; from 1985, she also worked for television. Stefanović has also lectured at the Centre for Women’s Studies and worked as cultural programme director at the Centre for Democracy Fund (2001), artistic director of BEMUS (2001–2006), and secretary of the state (i.e. deputy minister) at the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Serbia (2007–2008). She is a co-founder of the International Review of Composers.
The musical language of Ivana Stefanović is distinguished by its extreme uniqueness, frequent links with literary inspiration, domination of linear thinking, harmonic language moving in the domain of extended tonality, and explorations in the domain of experimenting with sound. Already her BA final project, her cantata Kabana, was noted and won her the student October Prize. She has won many international awards for works in radiophony (Poslanica ptica /A Letter from the Birds/, Gogolj na Šagalov način /Gogol the Chagal Way/, Izlet na čudno zeleno /A Trip to the Strange Green/, Dugme lutalica /The Wandering Button/, Nemam više vremena /I Don’t Have the Time Anymore/, Lingua/Phonia/Patria) and for works in full programming, including U Euterpinim vrtovima /In the Gardens of Euterpe/, Jedan po jedan svet /One by One World/, and Vreme osećanja /A Time of Feelings/. She has composed three string quartets (the first one in 1969/70, then Harmonije /Harmonies/ in1976, and Play Strindberg in 1992), a number of chamber works (Tumačenje sna /Interpreting a Dream/ for solo flute and audio tape, A u daljini vrt pun cveća /And in the Distance, A Garden Full of Flowers/ for solo violin) and orchestral works (Uspavanke /Lullabies/ for mezzo-soprano, harpsichord, and string orchestra in 1988, I niotkuda pomošti for old instruments, string orchestra, and percussion in 1989, and Četiri noćna zapisa /Four Nocturnal Wrtings/ for solo viola and 12 strings in 1992). Her piece Neobične scene sa Homerovog groba u Smirni – novi prilozi za Hansa Kristijana Andersena (Extraordinary Scenes from Homer’s Grave in Smyrna: New Additions for Hans Christian Andersen) won the 2007 Mokranjac Award.
She has also published a collection of prose, Put za Damask (The Road to Damascus, 2002) and a collection of essays, Muzika od ma čega (Music Made of No Matter What, 2010), and the book Privatna priča (A Private Story, 2013).
She has won the following national and international awards: the Mokranjac Award for Neobične scene na Homerovom grobu, Miloš Crnjanski Award for Put za Damask, Sterija Award for incidental music, Jean Antoine Triomphe variété award for radio composition, SLABBESZ award (Austria) for her work Lacrimosa, International Review of Composers award for Četiri noćna zapisa, etc.
Her piece Neobične scene sa Homerovog groba u Smirni – novi prilozi za Hansa Kristijana Andersena (Extraordinary Scenes from Homer’s Grave in Smyrna: New Additions for Hans Christian Andersen) was premièred at a concert held on 5 December 2007 at the Ilija Milosavljević Kolarac Foundation. It was performed by Ljubiša Jovanović (flute), Dragan Mićanović (actor and narrator), and the St. George Strings chamber orchestra, conducted by Biljana Radovanović (duration: 28 minutes). Stefanović found inspiration for this piece in Andersen’s story ‘A Rose from Homer’s Grave’. It was composed in Ankara in 2005.
This is how the Mokranjac Award jury worded its ruling:
‘Ivana Stefanović’s new piece is a true representative of a mature masterly compositional writing and carries a clear stamp of personal authorship. Its exciting musical contents and provoking themes make it stand out from current production in composition. With multiple meanings in terms of genre, this piece constitutes a sort of blend of the composer’s rich experience in the domain of radiophonic creativity and elements of the concertante genre, where the flute, an instrument to which she has a special affinity, is treated virtuosically, with difficult demands and expert uncovering of the huge range of its expressivity. This conditioned the work’s extremely complex dramaturgy, which exhibits a number of mutually intertwined levels. The first is determined by the relationship between the narration and musical events and realised by alternating between purely dramatic and purely musical planes, as well as through a richly nuanced counterpoint that generates strong dramatic tension, especially in the scene of the cruel fulfilment of the rose’s terrible dream. This dimension of the work would certainly be intriguing for a new and different media interpretation as well. However, this work’s musical flow may also be viewed regardless of the text, in the categories of instrumental, concertante music, which features an exciting dialogue between the solo instrument and the ensemble and which, we believe, will continue to inspire future performers to keep reading and interpreting it anew. Nevertheless, the essential meaning of Neobične scene sa Homerovog groba u Smirni may be illuminated only when its musical flow is interpreted by a close reading of its relationship with its extra-musical content, to uncover the multilayered meanings of this intriguing text. In her piece, Ivana Stefanović reveals its postmodern essence and boldly searches for answers to the issues that mar our civilisation at the present time. Recognising in those answers skill and inspiration, the jury has decided that the Stevan Mokranjac Award for 2007 should go to this piece.’