Rajko Maksimović (Belgrade, 1935) studied composition with Predrag Milošević at the Belgrade Academy of Music (BA 1961, MA 1965). He spent one academic year at the Princeton University on the Fulbright Program. He became assistant at the Faculty of Music in 1963 and worked there until he retired in 2001 as full professor of Composition and Orchestration.
In his sizeable oeuvre a prominent place is devoted to avantgarde music – When the Living Envied the Dead (1963) for choir and reduced orchestra; The Music of Becoming (1965), Not to Be or to Be?, Eppur si muove (1969) (all three for orchestra); Partita Concertante (1965) for violin and strings; Three Haiku (1967) for women’s choir and 24 instruments; Jeu à quatre (1977) for two pianos eight hands; Tenderly? (1979) for 65 chamber ensemble; After the Scent of the Blooming Cherry (1981) five haiku for soprano and ensemble – then compositions which evoke a specific archaic ambience – Chanting out of Darkness (1973-75) a book of six madrigals for choir a cappella; Uprising against Dakhias (1978), dramatic oratorio for narrators, choir, children’s choir and orchestra; The Testament of Petar Petrrović Njegoš the Bishop of Montenegro (1986) for bass solo, choir and chamber orchestra; The Passion of Holy Prince Lazar (1989) for narrator, four soloists, two choirs and orchestra; The Temptation, Martyrdom and Death of St. Peter Koriški (1994) for narrator, tree soloists, choir, orchestra and tape; Palabra en piedra/ Words in Stone (1980) for choir and optional percussions; Les Proverbes de Fénis (1983) for four voices and ensemble of ancient instruments. Over the last ten years his creative interests shifted towards chamber sound: She Sleeps, perhaps (1992) for mezzo-soprano and chamber orchestra; Prelude for the Morning of a Phaun (1994) for flute and strings; Rosebud (2001) for strings; Song Garland (2003) for flute, violin and strings; as well as some larger choral works: Destiny (1993); This and That (1995); Coloured (1996); Princess Milica’s Lament (1999); Psalm 90 (2005) for choir, children’s choir, flute, trumpet and horn.
He has won prestigios awards: Stevan Hristić for Piano Concerto; three awards of Radio Belgrade (for compositions When the Living Envied the Dead, Three Madrigals and A Feather); Serbian Composers Association Award for Jeu à quatre; Stevan mokranjac Award for Testament and October Award for The Passion…
Maskimović’s works have been performed on concerts and festivals throughout (former) Yugoslavia – Belgrade Music Festival, Yugoslav Composers Review in Opatija. Zagreb Biennale, Music in Serbia, Days of Mokranjac in Negotin, Yugoslav Choral Festival in Niš, Internatonal Review of Composers Belgrade; they were performed abroad and briadcast over radio and TV.
- She Sleeps, Perhaps
She Sleeps, Perhaps, probably the most beautiful song of our “condemned” poet and one of the gems of our love poetry, was a challenge for me over many years. It thus happened that I responded to that challenge in 1992, precisely at the time when the unfortunate and absurd war in Croatia was over, and the one in Bosnia, though not actually started, was imminent. It was my attempt to seclude myself from Milošević’s madness and plunge into a world of my own. So, I composed a song which would be a kind of embrocation to my soul. First of all, I strove to find sound proper to the poem’s world. Though the text was written from a “male” angle, hence a male voice would be a more logical choice, the expressive potential of Aleksandra Ivanović was decisive in my choice of mezzo- soprano. I still think it was a good choice. While working on it, I met our dear Dudaseveral times, with piano, bringing her my sketches and alternatives, and there, on the spot, made decisions about which alternative would suit her; ultimately, I wrote a made- to-measure song and, naturally, dedicated it to her.
For musico-dramatic reasons, I left out the eighth stanza – the one but last – and after the seventh one, which contains the dynamic, registral and emotional climax, went straight to the last, the ninth. The ninth one is the high point in view of the meaning, for it contains the line She Sleeps, Perhaps… which gave the title to the poem, but at the same time it is a solution to the riddle for it is immediately followed by She Lives, Perhaps… I have named it a solo cantata for mezzo-soprano and chamber orchestra. Recently, I have arranged it for voice, flute and piano to increase it chances of being performed. This is the premiere.