Winter 2001

It has been a little over one hundred years since the first Tamburitza Orchestras played their first notes, and since then many hundreds of musicians in the old homeland and here in the new world have entertained the masses with the strains of folk songs, dances and compositions. The latter, however, are often considered folk songs, because that has (sic) what they have become. Unfortunately, many names of the composers have been forgotten.

One such composer who is often overlooked is Vlaho Paljetak who composed undoubtedly the most popular song played on Tamburitza on this continent -- Marijana. Marijana was composed and recorded by Paljetak singing and playing the guitar in 1935 on the Zagreb label "Edison Bell Penkala Records". It quickly gained popularity and was soon recorded in many other languages, including Czech, Italian, English and even Japanese!

Paljetak was born in Dubrovnik in 1893 and worked at Zagreb's Croatian National Theatre as an Opera prompter from 1919 until his death in 1944, and was well known for his great skill. According to Marko Kinel who wrote the liner notes for a Paljetak anthology that was released in 1984 in commemoration of the 40th Anniversary of his passing noted that "Those who still remember Vlaho Paljetak, that 'Zagreber from Dubrovnik', remember his broad-brimmed hat, glasses with black frames, and the long scarf he wore tied around his neck instead of a tie, as well as the guitar he always carried."

He played the violin in the 'Little Orchestra' led by famous Croatian composers Jakov Gotovac and Ivo Tijardovic, but the bulk of his work was from the years 1929-1936 when he released about forty records, many of which were his own compositions including Hvala, Na Jadranu Plavom, Adio Mare and Popevke Sem Slagal. He also made famous the folk songs Jedan Mali Brodic and Hajd'mo Na Kubu. He recorded a number of Romanse, in Croatian, French and Italian as well as songs from popular films. Vlaho Paljetak is immortalized every time we sing one of his songs.

- John Morovich