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Pejacevic the reluctant countess

Donald Macleod surveys Dora Pejacevic’s final act of rebellion after her death

Donald Macleod surveys Dora Pejacevic’s final act of rebellion after her death

In Composer of the Week, Donald Macleod introduces a first for the series in its history of over seventy years, the Croatian Countess Dora Pejacevic. The life of Pejacevic has been fictionalised into film, and also told in a romanticised biography. In this week of programmes, Donald is joined by Professor Koraljka Koss and Professor Iskra Iveljic, to explore the known facts about the life and music of this Countess and her family. Although Pejacevic was born into one of the most influential aristocratic families in Croatia, she became rather critical of her own class in later life. Through her position she did have the opportunity to study in Germany with noted music teachers of the day, and met and collaborated with some of the literary giants of the early twentieth century. Upon her death at the age of only 37, she left a catalogue of over one hundred compositions displaying a unique voice now largely forgotten.

Countess Dora Pejacevic was not at ease with her aristocratic background. Her artistic career and far ranging interests also meant that she began to question the role of the aristocracy, and she also sought equality for women. She did however dedicate a number of her works to her aristocratic family, including the Symphony to her mother, and Libeslied to her sister. However, late in her life in 1921 Pejacevic married an army officer, and moved to Germany away from her family. As if she had a premonition of her future death, Dora wrote a letter to her husband which stated that regardless of their future child’s gender, it should be allowed to be free and encouraged in whatever it wanted to do. Their son Theo was born in January 1923, and Dora died just a few months later aged just 37. Her final act of rebellion was to ask that she be buried not inside the Pejacevic family crypt, but outside of it. Written on the front is simply her first name, Dora.

Humoreske and Caprice, Op 54
Natasa Veljkovic, piano

Trio in C major, Op 29 (Scherzo: Allegro & Lento)
Andrej Bielow, violin
Christian Poltera, cello
Oliver Triendl, piano

Liebeslied, Op 39
Ingeborg Danz, alto
Cord Garben, piano

Piano Sonata in A flat major, Op 57
Natasa Veljkovic, piano

Symphony in F sharp minor, Op 41 (Allegro appassionato)
The German State Philharmonic Orchestra of the Rhineland-Palatinate
Ari Rasilainen, conductor

Produced by Luke Whitlock for BBC Wales

59 minutes

Music Played

  • Dora Pejačević

    Humoreske and Caprice, Op 54

    Performer: Natasa Velijkovic.
    • CPO 5550032.
    • CPO.
    • 27.
  • Dora Pejačević

    Piano Trio in C major, Op 29

    Performer: Andrej Bielow. Performer: Christian Poltéra. Performer: Oliver Triendl.
    • CPO 7774192.
    • CPO.
    • 2.
  • Dora Pejačević

    Liebeslied, Op 39

    Performer: Cord Garben. Singer: Ingeborg Danz.
    • CPO 7774222.
    • CPO.
    • 17.
  • Dora Pejačević

    Piano Sonata in A flat major, Op 57

    Performer: Natasa Velijkovic.
    • CPO 5550032.
    • CPO.
    • 9.
  • Dora Pejačević

    Symphony in F sharp minor, Op 41 (Allegro appassionato)

    Performer: The German State Philharmonic Orchestra Of The Rhineland-Palatinate. Conductor: Ari Rasilainen.
    • CPO 7774182.
    • CPO.
    • 4.

Broadcast

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