Although little known beyond his native Slovenia, Fran Gerbic played an important role in his country’s musical culture. He was not only a composer (his works include the first Slovenian symphony) but also an operatic tenor, choral and operatic conductor, teacher, writer and administrator – he had roles in the formation of the first professional Slovenian opera company and in the establishment of the school attached to the Glasbena matica (Musical Centre) in Ljubljana. Most of his working life was spent in the Slovenian capital, where he died in 1917.

Gerbic was born on 5 October 1840 in the small town of Cerknica, just over 50 km south of Ljubljana, close to the famous ‘disappearing lake’, Cernisko jezero. The house of his birth lies on a hill, behind the church; in 1964 the Association of Slovenian Composers had a commemorative plaque affixed. It now belongs to the municipality and is maintained in his memory. The main ground-floor room is given over largely to the local choir, for rehearsals; on its walls hang the choir’s awards and photographs. Upstairs there is a memorial room to Gerbic. In it stands his well-worn Bosendorfer piano. There are a couple of display cases with a death mask, a photo portrait and some of his medals, as well as busts of composers he admired. Certificates honouring his contribution to national musical life are shown on the walls. His traditional clothes chest, dressing-table and cupboard are in a further small room. In Cerknica there is a street named after Gerbic and the local music school too bears his name.


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