ISIDORA ŽEBELJAN (Belgrade,1967) is the most outstanding and internationally acclaimed Serbian composer. She has attracted international attention with her opera Zora D. which was commissioned by the Genesis Foundation from London. The opera was premiered in Amsterdam in 2003 and directed by Sir David Pountney and Nicola Raab. The same production opened the 50th season of the Vienna Chamber Opera in 2003.
Isidora Žebeljan got commissions from important institutions and festivals such as the Berlin Philharmonic Foundation (Needle Soup for octet, 2015), Venice Biennale (The Horses of Saint Mark, illumination for orchestra, 2004), Bregenz Festival (opera The Marathon, 2008 and Hum away, hum away, Stings for orchestra, 2013), Genesis Foundation from London (for the opening of Bill Viola’s exhibition ‘The Passion’ at the National Gallery in London in 2003), University of Kent (Polomka quartet, 2009), Muziektheater im Revier Gelsenkirchen (opera’s Simon the Chosen, 2009 and Simon the Foundling, 2015), International Horn Society (Dance of the Wooden Sticks for horn and string orchestra, 2008), Accademia Musicale Chigiana Sienna (opera Two Heads and a Girl, 2012), City of London Festival (When God Created Dubrovnik, 2013), Eduard van Beinum Foundation (Violin Concerto and Psalm 78, 2017), German Music Council (Bagpiper’s Vitrage, 2019) etc. She composed works for excellent musical ensembles such as Wiener Symphoniker, The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Brodsky Quartet (10 compositions), Berlin Philharmonic Octet, The Netherlands Chamber Choir, Real Filharmonía de Galicia and London Brass. Her compositions were regularly performed in whole Europe, Israel, USA, Canada, South America, Africa and Australia including the festivals Venice Biennale, Bregenz Festival, White Light Festival (Lincoln Center, New York), Festival RAI Nuova Musica, City of London Festival, ISCM Festivals (Zagreb, Gothenburg, Wrocław, Vancouver), Festival Classique The Hague, Galway Arts Festival, Tallin Summer Music Festival, WDR-Musikfest, Settembre musica Milano-Torino, Ultima Festival (Oslo), Swaledale Festival, Walled City Music Festival, Dulwich Music Festival (UK), Eilat Festival (Jerusalem), Festival Nous Sons (Barcelona), Festival Residències de Música de Cambra de Godella (Godella-Valencia, Spain), ENSEMS Contemporary Music Festival (Valencia), Festival L’ Est (Milano), Festival ControCanto (Roma), Utrecht Early Music Festival, Stift International Music Festival (The Netherlands), Settimana Musicale Senese, Festival Clara (Belgium), Bangalow Music Festival (Australia), Musical Biennale Zagreb, Ulysses Theatre Brijuni (Croatia), Festival Muzyka Nowa Bydgoszcz (Poland), Festival International de Musique Symphonique d’Alger, BEMUS (Serbia), etc. Among the ensembles and musicians who also performed music of Isidora Žebeljan are BBC Symphony Orchestra, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra of RAI Torino, Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra, I Solisti Veneti, Neue Philharmonie Westfalen, No Borders Orchestra, Haydn Orchestra, Helsingborgs Symphony Orchestra, EurOrchestra (Bari), Lutosławski Quartet, Nieuw Ensemble (Amsterdam), Zagros Ensemble (Helsinki), Ensemble Sentieri selvaggi (Milano), Soutern Cross Soloists (Australia), Yokohama Sinfonietta, conductors Paul Daniel, Claudio Scimone, Michael Seal, David Porcelijn, Christoph Poppen, Pierre-André Valade, Peter Dijkstra, Kaspars Putņinš, pianists Kyoko Hashimoto, Aleksandar Madžar, Nino Gvetadze and Oliver Triendl, hornist Stefan Dohr, clarinetists Joan Enric Lluna and Alessandro Carbonare, violinist Daniel Rowland, and others. The exclusive publisher of her music is Ricordi-Universal. Some of her works were published by Donemus (The Netherlands).
CD label CPO from Germany released in 2011 a CD with her orchestral music, performing by Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra, Žebeljan Orchestra and conductor David Porcelijn (CPO 7776702). The same CD label released in 2015 a CD with her chamber music for strings, played by Brodsky Quartet (CPO 777994-2). In 2013 CD label Oboe Classics from London released a CD ‘Balkan Bolero’ with her chamber music for winds (11 compositions) (CC 2028). The other CD’s with music of Isidora Žebeljan were released by the CD labels Deutsche Grammophon (The Horses of Saint Mark by No Borders Orchestra), Chandos Records (UK), Mascom Records (Serbia), Acousense (Germany), etc.
Isidora Žebeljan studied Composition at the Faculty of Music in Belgrade with Vlastimir Trajković (a student of Olivier Messiaen). She has been Professor of Composition at the same Faculty since 2002, as the first women in Serbia. Her work as a composer has earned her several significant awards in her country, including the Mokranjac Award in 2004. She is the winner of the New York Civitella Ranieri Foundation Fellowship for 2005. In 2006 she was elected to the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts (full member since 2012) and in 2012 she was elected to the World Academy of Arts and Sciences (WAAS). She got in 2014 a Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean Award for her achievement in art.
Isidora Žebeljan is also one of the most prominent Serbian contemporary composers of theatre and film music. So far she has composed music for more than thirty theatre productions in all significant theatres in Norway, Serbia, Croatia and Montenegro. For her work in the field of theatre music she was awarded Sterija Award three times, which is the most important theatre award in Serbia. She was also awarded the Yustat Biennial of Stage Design Award for best theatre music four times. In addition, Isidora Žebeljan worked on a number of film scores, including the orchestration of Goran Bregović’s music for the films Time of the Gypsies, Arizona Dream and Underground (directed by Emir Kusturica), La Reine Margot (directed by Patrice Chéreau) and The Serpent’s Kiss (directed by Philippe Rousselot). She composed the music for Miloš Radivojević’s film How I was Stolen by the Germans. For this score she was awarded the Prize of the Film Festival in Sopot in 2011 (Serbia) and the FIPRESCI Prize of the Serbian Film Associoationin 2012.
Isidora Žebeljan also regularly appears as a performer (conductor and pianist) of her own works and of the works by other, mainly Serbian composers. She conducted concerts in London (with The Academy of St Martin in the Fields in Wigmore Hall) and in Amsterdam (Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ), and performed as a pianist with Brodsky Quartet.
SIGNIFICANT WORKS –
opera’s: Zora D; The Marathon; Simon the Chosen; Two Heads and a Girl; Simon the Foundling
orchestral music: The Horses of Saint Mark; Hum away, hum away strings; Escenas picaras; Deserted Village;
orchestral music with soloists: Rukoveti, five songs for soprano and orchestra; New Songs of Lada for soprano and string orchestra (or string quartet); Dance of the Wooden Sticks for French horn (or cor anglais) and string orchestra (or string quintet); Pipe and Flamingos, concerto for clarinet and orchestra; Three Curious Loves, concerto for violin and orchestra;
chamber music: Song of a Traveller in the Night for clarinet and string quartet; Polomka quartet for string quartet; Simon and Anne suite for cello (or cor anglais) and piano; Needle Soup for octet;
vocal music: Latum lalo for muxed choir; Psalm 78 for muxed choir; Pep it up, fantasy for soprano and chamber ensemble; When God created Dubrovnik, song for Mezzo-soprano and string quartet;
piano music: Umbra, Il Circo, Dark velvet, Sarabande.