Ivan Božičević

Ivan Božičević (1961, Serbia/Croatia), composer, organist, pianist, arranger, and jazz musician. Božičević studied composition in Belgrade with Aleksandar Obradović and organ in Frankfurt with Edgar Krapp. He lives in Split, Croatia, as a freelance artist. His opus encompasses four symphonic works, as well as numerous chamber, choral, solo, and electronic works. He is interested in a variety of genres (baroque, electronic, jazz, world music) and the possibility of ‘cross-fertilisations’ between them. His works have been performed and recorded across Europe and the USA, issued on 15 CD-s, published by several publishers in the US (Walton Music, EC Schirmer, Abundant Silence, Hinshaw) and Germany (Schott).

Along with Serbian awards (Stevan Hristić Award, Silver Medal of Belgrade University of Arts), Božičević has received numerous composition prizes abroad: an ArtsLink Fellowship Award, Garth Newel Composition Award, Third Millennium Ensemble Award, Aliénor Harpsichord Composition Award, Asylum Saxophone Quartet Prize, AGO/ECS Publishing Prize (USA), John Clare Society Award, an Invitation to Composers Project (Great Britain), an award at the Prague Philharmonic Choir Competition (Czech Republic), Sofia Soloist Ensemble award (Bulgaria), and Cristóbal Halffter Award (Spain).

The Moonpiper, a bagpipe dance for organ (2015). The imitation of bagpipes in keyboard compositions (usually called Musettes or Pastorales) has a long tradition – Frescobaldi, Couperin, Bach, Händel, Sibelius, and many others have written them. While most composers content themselves with mainly symbolic representations of bagpipe music, the 17th-century Italian composer Bernardo Storace went all the way: his minimalistically ecstatic Pastorale, more than 250 bars long, audaciously incorporates actual bagpipe-music formulae and turns the organ into a veritable folk-dance machine. In addition to Storace, I was also inspired by Balkan bagpipe folk music, especially by tunes in uneven metres.

Although I did not use direct quotations, I hope that the spirit of the country piper summoning everybody out to dance the night away is demonstrably present in my piece. Its texture draws from the romantic toccata tradition, with its perpetuum mobile semiquaver movement, while in terms of form, the pieces relies on the contemporary reductionist/minimalist procedure: the whole piece unfolds using only one short motive (7/16) and its variation (7/16 + 5/16), which travel through subtle changes of harmony, mood, and colour. The piece was commissioned by the American Guild of Organists (AGO) after I won the AGO/Marilyn Mason Award. Joby Bell performed it at its première in Houston on 23 June 2016 at the AGO national convention.