Marij Kogoj

Marij (Julij) Kogoj, Slovene composer,
20.9.1892, Trieste – 25.2.1956, Ljubljana

Marij Kogoj was a self-taught musician and started composing in 1910, years before he acquired any formal musical education. From 1914 to 1917, he studied composition with Franz Schreker in Vienna and in 1918 with Arnold Schoenberg in Schwarzwald.

He worked as a critic and a private tutor in Ljubljana Opera House. From 1919 to 1922, he was the leading force of the Slovene musical avant-garde, but his creative impulse was slowly stopped by schizophrenia. He lived in a mental institution from 1932 to his death in 1956.

His pieces are works of musical expressionism. His best piece of work is the opera Black Masks (Črne maske, 1928). Many of his compositions and works of musical theory remained unfinished. In composer’s honor, the town Kanal ob Soči organizes a yearly international music festival Kogoj’s Days (Kogojevi dnevi). Also, the town holds a permanent exhibition about Marij Kogoj.

Marij Kogoj married a Gradež woman, Marija Podlogar, and has spent holidays and occasionally resided in the house in the center of the village. Here, he found his peace; he bathed in the nearby stream Rašica and explored underground caves. His popularity in Gradež can be best illustrated by the fact that only a month after his death, a Cultural Society Marij Kogoj Turjak has been established, which has remained active up to this day, commemorating the anniversaries of his birth and death and currently preparing the Kogoj Promenade.

Marij Kogoj can be best presented by another composer Jakob Jež, who lives in Gradež and is an author of many vocal and chamber works of high art. A CD with Kogoj’s solos is also available, and a house where the composer used to live is still standing in Gradež, now owned by a private owner.