From the program diary of the 10th MBZ: Urbofest '79

We believe we have opened for you a new window...

The 10th Music Biennale Zagreb took place from May 12 to 18, 1979, under artistic leadership of the respected musicologist and Music Academy professor Nikša Gligo. The 10th MBZ was also a part of Urbofest, a manifestation which freed art from the rigidness of concert halls, theaters or exhibition areas, and took it out to the streets. The traditional notion of "contract" regarding the time and place of performance execution, along with its pertaining to some sort of exclusiveness, was opposed by the arbitrariness of everyday life, the city and its inhabitants casual passers-by with different knowledge of music, of different focus and occupations.

In accordance with the changes in the performance format, the format of printed material had also been changed. In addition to the 10th MBZ, an oblong and thin but also an abundant program diary, written in advance and in a humorous tone, was printed, so as to make it approachable for every reader. In a manner of an auto referential tourist guide, it pointed to its innovative form, but also to the generally very loosely conceived time frames and places which served as the initial (or only) points of a performance or an installation.

Below you can read the diary entries selected especially for this occasion and consider the similarities to this year's 30th MBZ edition – and let yet another MBZ open you a whole new window to the world!



Have you ever heard of a diary being written in advance!? One usually doesn't, but then probably – unusually one DOES! We are not of the usual breed, we are essentially unusual. And instead of proving it, here is an advance diary, the MBZ DIARY, a “tourist guide” to all the points of interest at the MBZ 79, covering the whole of the MBZ WEEK in May 1979.

This Diary is a “tourist” guide, but one for rather unusual “tourists”. In any case, all tourist guides repeat things we already know for those who do not know them, and as there is a good deal happening in the MBZ 79 WEEK which is unknown to its numerous “tourists” (that is why your are tourists in the first place!), this advance guide is the simplest and most practical way of making everything that is unknown known to all in good time.

We are, of course, counting on your curiosity: for the real thing, the transformation of the unknown into the known, begins on 12th May 1979!


Saturday, 12th MAY, 1979


The NaMa Department Store in Iilica opens at seven o'clock and although it is not at all certain that you will be the first to set foot in it – it's still early, people are sleeping – you should make the effort this time, if you can; you can always go back to bed later. For, those to set foot in “NaMa” first will have the rare honour of being the first to witness the first events of the MBZ 61–79 RETROSPECTIVE, the first and so far the only artistic project in the world to take place in a department store.  And not without reason!



The MBZ 61–67 RETROSPECTIVE is rather like the passing of time, it is neither an exhibition, nor a concert, neither a theatrical nor an anti-theatrical act, but a little of all of this at one the same time. After all, the Biennale does not consist only of music – although it is called a festival of music, it is first and foremost a collection of many experiences which have become entwined in our subconscious where they make us restless, nervous, entertain us, warn us, threaten us – and where they live!



Yesterday Max Eastley, Paul Burwell, David Toop and Steve Beresford from London landed at Zagreb Airport. They immediately rushed to their hotel and started unpacking nervously. They took out their maps of Zagreb and a lively discussion began about where and when they should start their MBZ MUSIWALKS. We have arranged with them that they should themselves find suitable public places in Zagreb where they and the audience can interact, specially places where music is not usually heard. You can always call them at their hotel and ask them – if you're really interested – where the musiwalk will be today. But you don't need to worry too much. They'll find you easily enough!



Wait a minute, let's take a look at our watches! It's about 3 o'clock in the afternoon. And according to the map of the town, you're just by the part at Strossmayer Square. The construction in the park is still and waiting for something to begin happening on it for you.

To hell with happenings! Let's get onto the tram, the bicycle and out into the country.

No sooner said than done! The number 2 is on its way from Republic Square but, just look, there's some kind of creaking cloud in front of it, some kind of cloud, some kind of noise all around it. First the cloud, then the tram. You have to go through the cloud to get into the tram! And the nearer the cloud comes the clearer it becomes that it isn't a cloud at all. Twenty-five cyclists, finalists in the “Polet” race, are rushing forward in a column on their twenty-five “Sounding” bicycles. Of course, it's the MBZ again: Richard Lerman leading the promenading version of his composition “Travelon Gamelon” for sounding bicycles. The creaking becomes louder and louder, the joyful faces of the cyclists give you complexes: you can ride around town on bicycles only at the opening of the MBZ, and on sounding bicycles at that! Terrific, isn't it? There now, the “Polet” cyclists are already behind you, submerged in a new, different invisible cloud. The 2 breaks behind them but you have just realized that your shopping bags arc goodness only knows where and that you will never forget this day as long as you live.


Sunday, 13th MAY, 1979


But, don't you go worrying your little heads now. You know very well that we are continuing with your second Festival day with cannon-fire at Grič. Jump out of bed, get dressed, it is already 11 o'clock, you have to buy a newspaper at Republic Square and you don't have too much time.

Have a little consideration! Marko Ruždjak took a long time composing his “Grič Cannon Break”, thinking only of today's midday cannon shot. You can't possibly not be there. Hurry!



And just look, as soon as we come into view of the “Sloboda” cinema we are met by that dear little MOBILODROME which we saw yesterday. We have taken it out for its Sunday constitution, you know. The MOBILODROME knows nothing at all about Detoni and his “little green music” but it is enchanted by the greenery of Tuškanac and it is up to you to discover what connection is between Detoni, the Zagreb Trade Fair, Michael Fahres and his computer, Tuškanac and its greenery and the MBZ 79. If, after all, one may believe that man and technology have the same aims, i. e. mutual advantage, then one would immediately think that the MOBILODROME and Detoni would play the greenery of Tuškanac in the same way. But, one never knows. We can only guarantee the MOBILODROME will not upset its stomach in the greenery of Tuškanac as a result of its painful impressions on the pollution of the environment through which it moves. So, there we are, Tuškanac all rosey and yellow... no, green + sound! The sweet little MOBILODROME keeps going its own sweet way, whiIe Detoni is gnashing his teeth because technology is once again in disagreement with man. It's an interesting experience!



Beginning here at 10 o'clock then, is something called MBZ MINIMALIA. This is the so-called “minimal music”, music which does not throw itself about either through verbosity or through a lot of empty phrases but which, more convincingly than may have been expected, is expressed through extremely meager means. Making music in the hall, for example will be the MICHAEL NYMAN BAND from London, who will be making use, in the main, of extremely well-known musical stereo-types of all styles, genres and periods in the compositions of their lead, M. Nyman, including pop music, jazz rock and opera. To insist on the already known is perhaps rather boring except when it is a matter of whistling “Mubizag” or of Michael Nyman's music which is so airy and amusing that it is a real pleasure to listen to.


Monday, 14th MAY, 1979


The second half of the Dutch concert has just begun at the MBZ. We barely managed to squeeze you all into the concert hall, so that we could start preparing the foyer for Meredith Monk's performance due to commence at 10 p. m. It isn't exactly complicated but it isn't simple either. Meredith has just arrived and we have discovered that she forgot to bring her one and only instrument with her from America, a glass! The boys went rushing off in all directions looking for a musical glass and having found one they poured whiskey into it instead of water (naturally, as they knew Meredith was American they made sure it was Bourbon and not Scotch!). But of course Meredith refused to sing with Whiskey, so we drained the glass to the last drop and filled it with pure healthy Zagreb water. Meredith is just wonderful, very practically minded! Her composition Our Lady of Late is for voice and glass (it's a good thing Meredith didn't leave her voice behind in America, just imagine if she had!). The glass is at first full of water, and Meredith works round it with her finger, obtaining that sober glassy sound, to accompany her voice. As her throat gets dry from singing, she takes a sip from the glass from time to time, and this changes the tone of the glassy sound so that – due to the different accompaniment – the singing changes too. And so it goes on to the end, when both the voice and the glass are drained. It's beautiful music, not only to look at but to listen to as well. If you should try it yourself later, at home, you'd be better off using whiskey instead of water, as you won't be able to hear yourselves then.


Tuesday, 15th MAY, 1979


The MOBILODROME woke up very early this morning, and immediately wanted to go for a walk. But we were not able to find its Daddy, Michael Fahres until 4 p. m. (It turned out that he had been trying to sing and wet his throat all night like Meredith Monk so that he fell asleep at dawn, dead... well, dead tired). And so it is only now that he is setting off for a short walk from Republic Square to the Flower Square.


Friday, 18th MAY, 1979


In the large “Lisinski” concert hall, four Indians with the classical music of Northern India: A father lmrat Khan, with his two sons, Irshad and Hishad, and their accompanist, Kumar Bose. Imrat Khan is a descendent of an ancient musical family of India which has been fostering a specific musical style for four hundred years. In addition to the fairly well-known sitar, Imrat Khan is a great virtouso of the lesser known but very beautiful surbahar, an instrument which he has also taught his son Irshad to play.

To experience Indian music, performed by real Indian masters is something quite indescribable! Music to the Indians has never been what it is to us Europeans. Far removed from any kind of entertainment, it emerges, first and foremost from the very soul of the performer, it is his way of communicating, not only with the audience in the concert hall, but with the whole universe, which, naturally, is also different from the universe familiar to us which it is so easy to “pack” into the concert halls together with the music. To listen to Indian music means to live with it and the performer, if he is worthy of the name, discloses to all of us the path to a great, indescribable world. According to the ancient Indian myths the universe, in coming into being, let out a sound which still continues together with the universe and which we are all trying to approach, together with the musicians. It is for this reason that such music has no history, as ours does, it is, in fact, uninterrupted music, and to learn to play an instrument means learning to listen.

And when the last strains of Khan's sitar or surbahara die out at the “Lisinski” concert hall, the MBZ will have finished and at the same time started: we believe we have opened for you a new window on the world, a window through which you will be able to look at the world in a different, better light...

... looking forward with .impatience and curiosity to the MBZ 81!