Slovenia, Brazil promote joint book project

Sao Paulo, 14 June – Slovenia and Brazil have started promoting in Brazil a joint project featuring books on the histories of both countries. The two books, a history of Slovenia in Portuguese and a history of Brazil in Slovenian, will be presented in Sao Paulo on Wednesday and in Rio de Janeiro on Friday.

“Dežela in njena soseščina: Zgodovina Slovenije v portugalskem jeziku” (A Land and Its Neighbourhood: A History of Slovenia in Portuguese), edited by Oto Luthar, and a Slovenian translation of History of Brazil by Boris Faust, were launched in Brazil on Monday at an event marking the 25th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

The History of Brazil, translated by Barbara Juršič and Jasmina Markič, is the first history book on Brazil in Slovenian. It was launched in Slovenia in November.

The promotion of the two books in Brazil was accompanied by traditional dishes: potica, a traditional Slovenian sweet bread, and Brazilian cheese bread, the Slovenian Embassy in Brazil said.

Slovenian Ambassador to Brazil Alain Brian Bergant labelled the project carried out by the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts and Brazil’s FUNAG foundation as an excellent example of bilateral cooperation that bodes well for future projects.

He added that Slovenia would mark the 25 years of diplomatic relations with Brazil with a number of events, including an exhibition on the work of Slovenian architect Jože Plečnik and a week of Slovenian culture in Recife.


Foto: Xinhua/STA

A Pilgrimage of Three Nations

What may at first glance appear to be just another mountaintop in the Italian part of the Julian Alps, not far from the border with Slovenia, happens to be one of the most important pilgrimage destinations for the Slovenian people – and an important gathering place for people from far and wide.

The story of Mt. Lussari – known as Svete Višarje in Slovenian – began in the 14th century. According to legend, one day a shepherd lost his sheep. After a long search, he found them in a bush next to a statue of the Virgin Mary. He took the mysterious statue to the village priest in the valley. Overnight however, the statue vanished from the priest’s house – and reappeared back on the mountain. On the urging of the local priest, the influential Patriarch of Aquileia approved the building of a church on the spot where the shepherd found the figure of the Virgin.

Mt. Lussari soon became a key pilgrimage destination for the Slovenian people. Residents from the entire Upper Sava Valley and places beyond spent many hours journeying o the top of the mountain. The pilgrimage was arduous in those times, but it became a tradition. Pilgrims were even asked to bring up logs of wood for heating.
The history of Mt. Lussari was not without incident. In 1907, lightning damaged a large part of the church, but World War I left a bigger mark. In 1915, a grenade almost destroyed the church, but amazingly, the statue of the Virgin Mary survived unscathed. After the war, the church was rebuilt and was decorated with frescoes by Tone Kralj, a Slovenian master of religious murals.

Today, Mt. Lussari hosts annual meetings of Slovenians from around the world, serving as a gathering place for the Slovenian diaspora. It also has another, more local role: It’s where people from Slovenia, Austria, or Italy come together. The link represents the shared destiny of three peoples living on the southeastern edge of the Alps.

Jaka Bartolj


Documentary honours Slovenian-Italian mountaineering couple

Trieste, 13 June – In a cross-border coproduction, the regional branches of the Italian and Slovenian public broadcasters, RAI and RTV Slovenia, have made a documentary to honour the first couple ever to climb all 14 eight-thousanders, Romano Benet and Nives Meroi.

Foto: Xinhua/STA

The documentary, written and directed by Vida Valenčič, was produced in a Slovenian and an Italian version and premiered in the Slovenian programme of RAI on Sunday evening.

Benet, an ethnic Slovenian, and his wife Meroi live near Tarvisio, just off the Slovenian-Italian border.

They completed their crown of the Himalayas on 11 May with Annapurna (8,091 m), after their journey to all the mountains higher than 8,000 metres started in 1994 with a failed attempt at K2, the world’s second highest mountain.

Not only did they manage to climb the world’s 14 highest mountains, but they did so without the use of supplementary oxygen, without fixed ropes and without the help of porters, which exhibits extraordinary respect for the mountains, according to the makers of the film.

Shot mostly in the area of the Julian Alps, the film also features a lot of Benet’s own previously unpublished footage from the Himalayas.

Apart from different mountaineering-related topics, like women in mountaineering and the contrast between classical and more touristic ascents to the Himalayas, the documentary also deals with what the pair dubs their 15th eight-thousander – Benet’s illness.

Symbolically titled 14+1, the documentary tells the story of how mountains became life teachers for them also in dealing with acute bone marrow aplasia, a rare disease that Benet contracted in 2009.

He has since undergone two bone marrow transplantations and two hip replacements with prosthetics, but he approached this the same way he does climbing mountains – with endless hope and one step at a time.


Diaspora minister opens Slovenian minority library in Hungary

Szentgotthard, 10 June – Minister for Slovenians Abroad Gorazd Žmavc opened a mini library in the Slovenian cultural and information centre in Hungary’s Szentgotthard on Saturday and attended a traditional Slovenian heritage event hosted by the Association of Slovenians in Hungary.


Author: Marjan Maučec/STA

The Slovenian Australian Academic Association (SAAA) Conference

On Monday, the 22nd of May, 2017, in the week of celebrating its second anniversary, the Slovenian Australian Academic Association – SAAA held its first event, the SAAA Conference 2017: Australian and Slovenian current and future research opportunities. The event, opened by H. E. Mrs Helena Drnovšek-Zorko, Ambassador of the Republic of Slovenia in Australia, took place at the EU Centre RMIT (Storey Hall, Green Brain) in Melbourne.

Photo: Manca Ogrizek

The Conference brought together 36 participants, the majority from all Slovenian Australian communities nation-wide. Academics, researchers, students, entrepreneurs as well as members of government and non-government organisations had the opportunity listening to 17 speakers (2 of them through video from Slovenia) including two keynotes Professor Glenda Sluga, ARC Laureate Fellow, Professor of International History, FAHA, The University of Sydney, and Professor Zlatko Skrbiš, President of the University of Ljubljana Global Alumni and Associates Network (SMUL) & Vice-Provost (Graduate Education, Monash University).


This one-day conference closed with a round table titled How to improve knowledge exchange between Slovenia and Australia? The conclusions of the even and recommendations will be available in the coming months.
More information about the conference is available on an on the SAAA Facebook page.

Dr Kaja Antlej

Slovenian Australian Academic Association – SAAA

June issue of the e-magazine Moja Slovenija

A new issue of our e-magazine Moja Slovenija is out. You can read it here:

Accessible and Noble (200 years of public music schools in Slovenia)

Slovenians have always associated themselves with music and valued it very highly, and so as times changed it remained an important factor that brought people together. The teaching of music has played a central role in this process, and in different periods and under varied circumstances, a number of exceptional musicians worked relentlessly to build an excellent system of public music schools, which managed to survive despite the many obstacles it had to face.

Celebration of the 200th anniversary of music education Slovenia. On the stage of the Cankarjev Dom in Ljubljana appeared a united orchestra of Slovenian music schools, conservatories, gymnasiums and the Music Academy. Photo: Office of the President of the Republic of Slovenia

Music schools have a very long and interesting history in Slovenia, with the oldest sources dating them back to the Middle Ages. Copies of musical discussions and accounts of early musical education have been preserved from the 12th century onwards. Such efforts were initially focused within monasteries, and later also in large parish centres. Music, especially singing and the basics of musical theory, was included in the Protestant school programs in the 16th century, and in Catholic institutions in the 17th and 18th centuries. Many textbooks have survived from this era, with the most historically important being one written by an organist from Novo Mesto (Noten-Buch darinnen di Fundamenta zu dem Clavier oder Orgel enthalten).


The First Music Schools

The first public music school opened its doors in Ljubljana in 1815, with the mission to offer music lessons that were free of charge and accessible to everyone. There, students and teacher trainees alike studied different instruments and acquired basic musical knowledge. When an advertisement for the position of a music teacher was published in newspapers in Klagenfurt, Graz, Vienna and Prague, a staggering 21 candidates applied, including the young Franz Schubert.

Roughly at the same time, in 1820, the music school of the Philharmonic Society started its classes. Organized by a body called the Philharmonische Gesellschaft (1794–1919), this was one of the oldest civic societies in the former Habsburg Monarchy. The Society was founded by citizens of Ljubljana, the so-called musical dilettantes, with the aim of encouraging music, and especially instrumental music. They organised concerts with the Ljubljana Orchestra and, to meet their own needs, started a music school for stringed and wind instruments. The society had honorary members, including such luminaries as Hayden, Beethoven and Paganini. In 1891, a wonderful concert hall was built in Ljubljana – the Tonhalle in Kongresni trg square, which today houses the Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra.

Later on, music schools were gradually opened in other Slovenian towns and cities, such as Trieste, Maribor, Celje and Ptuj. At first, music schools were established within the German musical societies, but later, as the reading room movement progressed, Slovenian music schools also started opening. The Glasbena matica Society played the most notable role in founding Slovenian music schools. It opened its own school in 1882 and continued by establishing associated institutions in Novo Mesto, Celje, Kranj, Trieste, Gorica, Maribor and Ptuj. The basic aim of these efforts was to encourage musical creativity and interpretation among the Slovenian people.

Music classes offer growing opportunities

Slovenian music schools experienced an important development after World War I. In 1919, the first Conservatory was founded, and two decades later the Music Academy opened. Thereafter, a number of music schools were opened and classes thus became widely accessible.

Although such developments were interrupted by World War II, in 1945 the number of music schools started to increase rapidly again, and the network expanded to include all large Slovenian towns and cities, with subsidiaries also opened in rural areas. From 1945 to 1960 the number of music schools grew five-fold, and had increased by nine times by 1990. The Organization and Financing of Education Act, adopted in 1991, guaranteed uniform financing for music schools and special forms of work with talented students.

Music in Slovenia today

There are 69 music schools in Slovenia today, 54 public and 15 private ones, offering official educational programs in music and dance. Almost 26,000 children attend such schools, and students from among these often achieve excellent results at international competitions, with many joining leading orchestras after graduation. Following the spirit with which they were first established, music schools are open to children from all social classes if they show sufficient musical ability. Since music is known to have positive effects on the overall development of young people, enabling them to grow their rational and emotional sides, and thus helping them to become more balanced individuals, such accessibility is especially important.

Slovenian music schools hold individual lessons in playing instruments, thus ensuring a very high quality of teaching. Besides working with their chosen instruments, children also attend classes in music theory, which allows them to read music and develop in terms of musical performance and creation. Group classes encourage socialisation, and from a musical point of view require the individual players to learn how to work in a group context. Especially important here are the presence of chamber groups, choirs and orchestras in these schools. By playing in a group, students learn how to tailor their personal interpretations and musicality to those of other players, and develop the skills needed for shared work, discipline and responsibility. As such, a diverse programme is included in music schools through numerous solo and orchestra concerts, contributing to the cultural lives of many Slovenian towns and cities.

As a jubilee year, 2016 has seen a number of events which connected musicians in different ways. The Slovenian School Museum prepared a retrospective exhibition, and a scientific symposium was organised by the Music Academy. The most prominent projects include the gala concert, which featured three symphonic orchestras comprised of the best young musicians from the country. On this occasion, the President of the Republic of Slovenia, Borut Pahor, awarded the Slovene Music Schools Association with the Sliver Order of Merit.

Boris Štih,
president of the Slovene Music Schools Association

Sinfo May-June 2017

SINFO – SLOVENIAN INFORMATION is a bimonthly magazine, that brings news from Slovenia on business, culture and sports.

Click on the picture below to read the latest issue (May-June 2017):