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2 April 2015

Bozidar Kos (1934-2015)

Bozidar Kos Image: Bozidar Kos  

Composer and widely respected teacher of composition Bozidar Kos has died on 29 March at the age of 80. Kos lived, studied and worked in Australia for 43 years before returning to his country of birth, Slovenia, in 2008.

Bozidar Kos's music was influenced by the greats of the post-war European avant-garde from Boulez to Ligeti and Lutoslawski - he has also listed Varèse and Stravinsky as important figures from the point of view of orchestration. In Australia, he is remembered as the composer of an award-winning Violin Concerto (1986), a virtuosic piece with spell-binding microtonal sections. The work was released on a CD (VOX Australis), and later also recorded in Slovenia.

Kos remained active as a composer until very recently - in the past decade he completed three symphonies (Symphony No. 1, 2005/06; Symphony No. 2, 2007/08 and Symphony No. 3, 2012) and several other orchestral works. He combined jazz and classical music in some of his music, particularly the 1993 work Crosswinds, an orchestral piece involving improvising jazz musicians.

Kos's early musical training consisted of instrumental studies in piano and cello at the State Music School in his hometown of Novo mesto, Slovenia. Initially a student of technology at university, he found time to lead a jazz band and teach cello and music theory, and soon gave up his studies to tour Europe with a jazz ensemble in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The move to Australia in 1965 opened up new opportunities to study music - Kos studied composition at the University of Adelaide under Richard Meale, and electronic music with Peter Tahourdin and Tristram Cary. He also travelled back to Europe to attend summer schools where he had the chance to study with the likes of György Ligeti, Mauricio Kagel and Brian Ferneyhough.

Kos went on to complete three degrees (BMus, MMus and PhD) and to teach composition to generations of students, first in the University of Adelaide (1976-1983) and later at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music until his retirement in 2002.

For many years, Kos was a member of the committee of the ISCM Australia Section, and of the executive committee of the Fellowship of Australian Composers. The program of the 2015 ISCM World Music Days, to be held in Slovenia in September, will feature a work by Kos, Spectrum.

AMC's CEO John Davis emphasises Kos's significant legacy as a composer and teacher:

'Bozidar made a significant contribution to Australian musical life over the more than 40 years that he lived here. He was a composer of considerable intellect and craft, and he leaves a legacy of real substance. His outwardly sometimes serious manner was well-tempered by a warmth and generosity of spirit, and his sense of humour and smiling eyes will be well-remembered by those who knew him.'

> Read an interview with Kos, conducted before the composer's 80th birthday (Resonate 21 May 2014).

Subjects discussed by this article:

Anni Heino is Editor (Communications & Resonate) at the Australian Music Centre


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