The small village of Verzej, in the northwestern corner of Slovenia, is the birthplace of one of the country’s leading composers of the inter-war period. Slavko Osterc, born on 17 June 1895, studied in Prague under Novak, Haba and others, taught in Ljubljana, and had much of his music heard at the International Society for Contemporary Music during the 1930s. He moved stylistically from post-Expressionism to a Stravinskian contrapuntal manner, but always with a characteristic vein of wit. He died young, of syphilis acquired during service in World War I, on 23 May 1941.

STERC MUSEUM Photo Gallery

The site of his birth – the actual house no longer stands – is marked by a plaque, and in front of it on the village green, which bears his name, a bust to him stands; in the regional capital, Ljutomer, there is a music school named after him. There is a series of concerts in his memory in Verzej each spring. Since 1963 the village offices there have had a memorial room dedicated to Osterc and to another distinguished son of the region.

His life and his work are clearly documented and illustrated in a series of glazed panels and a showcase. Most of the originals are in the National and University Library in Ljubljana, but some are here along with reproductions – there are programmes, scores of his main works and production pictures of the stage ones, letters, photographs, some of the risque verses that he penned (alas, only in Slovene), and exercise books from his student days. There are caricatures of Osterc and pictures of him with members of his family (he was married to a pianist of Polish descent, who later divorced him) and reproductions of two paintings by his daughter Lidija. Osterc’s own nephew is involved with the local Society of Culture and serves as a knowledgeable and sympathetic guide whenever needed.

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