Papandopulo’s Saxophone Concerto for the 100th Anniversary of the Academy of Music


Another composition from the sheet music catalog of the Music Information Center of the Vatroslav Lisinski Concert Hall will be performed on Friday and Saturday, March 25 and 26, 2022. In the Blagoje Bersa Concert Hall of the Music Academy of the University of Zagreb the Concerto for Saxophone and Orchestra of Boris Papandopulo will be performed by Nikola Smetko, a fifth-year student of the Academy of Music accompanied by the Symphony Orchestra of the Academy of Music, under the direction of assistant Matija Fortuna (first evening) and Ivan Šćepanović, third-year student (second evening).

Papandopulo’s Concerto, written in 1987, is already part of the concert repertoire of many saxophonists worldwide, and it was one of the peaks of the grand concert for the opening of the 18th World Saxophone Congress in 2018 and the obligatory composition of the 3rd International Saxophone Competition Josip Nochta in 2021. The Concerto is dedicated to the professor of the Academy of Music, saxophonist Dragan Sremec, the editor of the music edition published by the Croatian Music Information Center and the author of the piano reduction. About the origin of the work he wrote:

At a gala concert marking the 30th anniversary of the existence of the Wind department of the Music Academy in Zagreb, held in the Croatian Music Institute on November 27, 1986, at which I gave the first performance of the Sinfonietta for Saxophone, Strings and Percussion of Bruno Bjelinski, Boris Papandopulo was also present. After the concert, we were introduced when he came to convey his congratulations.  He expressed the wish to compose something for me. I visited him a few days later, and to my great joy, he liked the idea of writing a concerto for saxophone and symphony orchestra.  The score was ready as early as the beginning of January, 1987.  I gave the first performance on February 25, 1988, in Belgrade, with the Symphony Orchestra of the Artistic Ensemble of the Yugoslav Army, the composer himself conducting. This was also the last public performance in his long career as a conductor. The long expected edition of this outstanding work is bound to set many saxophonists off on an extension of their repertoires, for relatively few compositions have been written for saxophone and large symphony orchestra. It should also be said that at my request, in 1991, Maestro Papandopulo wrote (and dedicated to me) the Six Sketches, for Saxophone Quartet, which is the most performed composition by any Croatian author for this ensemble.  (From the Introduction of the sheet music: Boris Papandopulo, Concerto for Saxophone and Orchestra, Zagreb, Croatian MIC, 2011.)

The program of the Music Academy concerts on March 25 and 26 also includes the Second Symphony by Johannes Brahms, L’Attente by Camille Saint-Saëns and the Academic Suite by as many as seven professors of the Academy of Music: M. Tarbuk, Z. Tanodi, D. Bukvić, F. Đurović, V. Nježić, A. Knešaurek and B. Šipuš. Apart from those already mentioned, in the concert are engaged conducting students Mateo Narančić and Pavle Zajcev and soprano Nela Katalenić Klinar.

The concerts are held to mark the 100th anniversary of the Music Academy and are closed to the public, but can be watched live via the Music Academy’s YouTube channel.