Vlastimir Trajković (1947, Serbia) earned his BA (1971) and MA (1977) degrees in composition at the Music Academy in Belgrade, in the class of Vasilije Mokranjac. In 1977, he worked with Witold Lutosławski at the summer course in Grožnjan, Croatia. In 1977–78, funded by the French government, he studied with Olivier Messiaen in Paris. In 1971, he began teaching subjects in music theory at the Stanković School of Music and then in 1980 joined the Faculty of Music Art in Belgrade as professor of composition and head of the composition department for many years. In 2000, he was admitted to the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts as a corresponding member and was made a full member in 2009.
His stylistic orientation was determined already in his youthful works, which feature a consistent combination of Debussyian impressionism, Messiaen’s spheres of content and system of modes, with admixtures from rock and jazz. In his pieces, Trajković also affirms a postmodernist artistic orientation. In Arion, nova muzika za gitaru i gudače (Arion, New Music for Guitar and Strings, 1979), his most frequently performed piece, he proclaimed the procedure of repeating simple, reduced material, anticipating the emergence of minimalism in Serbian music. In Trajković’s oeuvre, the piano pieces are especially noteworthy: Četiri nokturna (Four Nocturnes, 1972), Zvona (Bells, Op. 5), and Za početnike, dve etide za klavir (For Beginners, Two Piano Studies, Op. 9). This area of his work also features the characteristics of his personal style: crystal-clear forms, a striking, extremely extended harmonic language, complex metrics, as well as a refined feeling for instrumental and orchestral colour. The following works have also been noted: Tempora ratenta, a symphonic study; Dan (Day), four hymns for orchestra; Duo for piano and orchestra; Klavirski koncert (Piano Concerto), Koncert za obou (Oboe Concerto), Pet lakih komada za harfu solo (Five Easy Pieces for Solo Harp, Op. 22), Arija i igra za alt-saksofon in Es i klavir (Aria and Dance for Alto-saxophone in E flat and piano, Op. 15), Deset preludijuma za gitaru (Ten Preludes for Guitar, Op. 10), and Pet pesama Stefana Malarmea (Five Poems by Stéphane Mallarmé) for guitar and orchestra, Op. 29.
Klavirski koncert (Piano Concerto) is an extensive piece, whose solo part contains a wide range of pianistic elements, enabling the soloist to present the full wealth of virtuosity. The orchestra’s part is weighty, varied, and rich and refined in colour. The opening movement: Stásis – Anoché – Hypóstasis (Rising – Idling – Fulfilment) presents a form that characterises the opening movements of several sonatas and concerti by Trajković. At the very opening of the movement, two essentially contrasting structures are confronted (a procedure related to the formal principle applied in the Duo). This is followed by a broad, loud, and constantly extroverted section (in lieu of the classical primary theme), a section that is both an exposition and development. What follows is the already mentioned tranquil and introverted ‘anti-Schoenbergian’ Tema sa varijacijama (Theme with Variations). Following a piano cadenza, the long final section (Hypóstasis), consisting of certain earlier, extroverted materials, is again an exposition and development at once. This time, however, exposition and development are both hypostasised – even more compelling, even closer.
The second movement, basically lyrical, bears the following Greek titles: Achthos – Epískepsis – Hesychía (i.e. Pain – Reconsideration – Silence), whereas the final movement, fast and expansive, ends triumphantly, with a bright and powerful apotheosis – Apólysis (Resolution).
(Commentary by Neda Bebler)