Boris Kovač – Music as a Bridge between Earth and Heaven

Historically and musically developed so that is really great and multifaceted Yugoslavian composer Boris Kovač was the real sound of the mirror of the tragic events in the country in the ’90s. Ethnic strife, bombings, death, violence, and eventually decay, all accurately reflected in the music track that left Kovac.

By education, Boris Kovac – musical autodidact. He studied at the Faculty of Philosophy in fact, but devoted his life to the philosophy of music. This experience greatly, by the way, affected the creativity Kovac as a whole. He does not see himself as an ordinary composer or a musician – he was first and foremost a philosopher who chose their means of expression is not a pen and paper, and the notes and musical instruments. This, incidentally, is another of its distinguishing feature – it combines the composer and performer, leveling the border, carried out between a single writer and musician.

Read the whole article in 3 parts in Russian:
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Alexey Petuhov
Boris Kovač – Music as a Bridge between Earth and Heaven

“There are those special artists whose entire musical careers accompany one throughout one’s life… Boris Kovač has, with all this, achieved a legendary status with his variegated, exceptional and dazzling music… Because of the magical and mysterious elements in his music, no classification is successful. His ‘Catalogue of Memories’, a musical opus full of nostalgic and melancholic memories that strike deep chords, lifts one out of time and transports one from reality. It is an extraordinary, enchanting masterpiece – a world record in all respects.”

Jan Willem Broek

“…Kovač’s artistry can be described as “a vertiginous mix of recycled and transformed codes, characters and conventions”… belonging to a category outside the diverse artistic classifications. In speaking about his music, Boris Kovač refers to an interweaving of different genres and styles of music and assorted media, often incorporating controversial, paradoxical and ambiguous references. One can certainly detect the “yielding” and “fluid” boundaries that fuse the author’s composing and his performing activities.

But ultimately Kovač finds his expression beyond all styles and genres, beyond the boundaries of any specific time, geography or ethnicity, eschewing any form of hierarchy…”

Milica Doroški
excerpt from the encyclopaedia “European Contexts of Art in the Twentieth Century in Vojvodina”

Orchestra for Barbaric Apocalyptic Balkan Dance

Many years ago, when author of this article was seriously interested in Goran Bregovic’s music, he wrote a completely apologetic article about the author of the early 90’s Moscow taxi drivers’ favorite song (‘In A Death Car’, of course). In that article he without knowing and without listening but offhand told a few pejorative words about the saxophonist and composer Boris Kovac.

Now, my friends, it is time to apologize and even, perhaps, sprinkle ashes on my head. I declare with all my responsibility: the ex-jazz saxophonist Kovac is not “one of those, which a few in any seaside town on the Adriatic“. No, he is the one. In any of his musical incarnations, whether it is a popular La Campanella or more refined LaDaABa orchest («Orchestra for barbaric apocalyptic Balkan dance» – this is what the strange acronym stands for), he actually was and remains one of the most interesting European composers of our time. Attention, I’m not kidding!

Старик Козлодоев

Boris Kovač, Tajj Kvartet, New Ritual Group and friends – Kolarčeva zadužbina, 25th of January 2011.

I don’t know how many times I’ve seen Boris Kovač live, following his journey from the abstract, meditative states, through frenetic expression, till tavern’s dance and … back.

Uroš Smiljanić

If all Serbian composers revisited their old pieces like Kovač does, nobody would even heave to write new music.

Uroš Smiljanić

Across That Twilight Zone

„Kovač slips easily across that twilight zone where contemporary composition and folk music touch.”

Chris Cutler, Resonance 1999, London

„The King of apocalyptical cabaret“

Simon Broughton, Songlines May 2003, – UK

Dancing at the Abyss

“Dancing at the Abyss… Kovac proves that we humans, still manage to move the cosmos with our music, to find hope in our inner spirits and seek a way out of the morass…”

Clif Furnald, Rootsworld, September 2001

“Kovac’s music is both grounded and path finding a testament to the resileincy of culture and spirit in a region trying to repair itself after a decade of horror.

Shepherd Express, August 2005, USA

“This music is future classical…”

Global Beat Fusion, USA, August 2005


MULTISTYLISM could be a rough term used to determine Boris KOVAC’s composition profile, which is not suited to fill any conventional pigeonholes. His music reflects a thorough knowledge of the European chamber music tradition; on the one hand it could (conditionally) be categorized among lyrical sentiments of traditional sound worlds (not only of Pannonian ethnic music but also of a “planetary human spirit”) and sacred ritual sound festivities, and, on the other hand, it adopted some experiences of jazz, avantgarde rock and improvised music. Among the younger generation composers that we have had the opportunity to hear in the last several years there are indeed very few who have introduced so much freshness into contemporary music as Boris KOVAC has done.

Rajko Mursic, “Muska”, 1995 / Slovenia

All Kovac’s Excursions Are Voyages

“…all Kovac’s excursions are voyages beyond the expected. His ability to veer from heartbreakingly gorgeous melodies, fluttering wingsof brass symphonies, into breakneck accordion-driven fury isincomprehensible.“

Derek Beres, Sing Out! magazine, USA, 2005

East European Tones in Bizarre Beauty

The true revelation appeared only on the last day… Boris Kovac and  his Ritual Nova Ensemble played their endlessly remote odes. It seemed as if those Yugoslavs were not from this world. Metaphysical in their search and convincing in their ideas, these mystics played their beautiful, sad melodies (the soprano part was without words, dominated by the grace and power of rhythms). The ensemble has mastered this language in a wondrous way. Appearing as a secret culmination of the festival…

Festival Klanglandschaften
Frank Gerdes, Leipziger Folkszeitung, 12. nov. 96.

“The Last Balkan Tango” pulls the soul out of the body

Today, it seems to me like I never heard records which really inspired me that much. One of them is the album of Boris Kovac. … “The Last Balkan Tango” pulls the soul out of the body; so much emotions, so much honesty, so much devilish good musicallity is placed in this small framework…

orsinos lied Q U E Rfunk Karlsruhe Erstsendung: 08.07.2001.
Redaktion & Moderation: Roland Altenburger

Everyone is One Island

One is unable to define his music. It appears as a blend of various styles Kovac was in connection with and is full of personal language and aura… there is a special fascination coming from himself and his music, which seems like coming from far away and never ending…

“Die Presse”, Vienna, March 15, 1991.

Success of Kovac’s ensemble

…No, this album is not cheerful. It is sombre, tragical and dramatic, although there are careless and winged moments. Balkan dances, not the unrestrained round-dance, but falls into the wild exaltation of one bloody apocalypse. …His music, with its quality, shades the international music scene.
Since Laibach’s album Nato Occupies Europe, The Last Balkan Tango is the most piercing warning from the East.
Success of Kovac’s ensemble

Wolf Kampmann, Jazzthetik, Germany Jun 2001.

A Thousand Year Blend In The Shade Of The Balkans

The music by Boris Kovac performed by Ritual Nova ensemble is a result of great composition and arrangement efforts and results in a great unity of the thousand year long Balkan culture, an outcome of an east-west fusion and contemporary music at the same  time. Tunes inspired by folklore and influenced by Bartokianism, gypsy music, Orthodoxy and great Balkan composers of the last few centuries are deeply connected with their own culture.
… After the performance of this original and inciting music we are convinced that Boris Kovac is the most remarkable representative of Balkan music.

Alessandro Nobis, Verona / Italy March 1, 1994

Boris Kovac mit Ritual Nova

…erlebten einen grossartigen Boris Kovac mit Ritual Nova, dem prazise betitelten Ensemble, das das Grundtema genial fasste: Assiziationsketten von Klezmer bis Arvo Part…Musik von bezwigendem Ernst und bewegender Heiterkeit. Ovationen, konsequente Zugabe: “Was ist die Zukunft unserer Kinder?”, “The Last Balkan Tango”…

Georg Linsenmann, Schwabische Zeitung, 10.08.1998.

Paradoxen alchemistischen Formel

…Boris Kovac mit seiner “paradoxen alchemistischen Formel”, die in ihrer Klangumsetzung wie eine Mischung aus depression, Lebensmut und Lebenswut, aus Barbarei und asthetischem Gestaltungswillen ertont. Kalt war’s, schon war’s und sicher ein hochst ungewonliches klangmusikalisches Ereignis.

Hilde Steinfurth, Neu-Ulmer Zetung, 10.08.1998.

Dream Academy

Boris KOVAC successfully combines a great portion of Balkan European heritage with contemporary sound experience, which is indisputably testified by the Ritual Nova record…. It has been long since I heard such personally experienced music, such a creative expression of inspiration.

Andonis N. Frankos, Poprock, Athens, 1994
(The magazine pronounced the record Ritual Nova I&II the best record of the issue)