Đakovo and the Đakovština area have been frequented by many people. Big and small wars were fought in the area. The aftermaths of national treaties, military occupations and wars left their marks in all aspects, including culture. Generations of people who lived and worked in Đakovo, nurtured the cultural heritage and preserved the spirit of the area and their nationalities. The mixing of different people and their cultures enriched the culture of the original inhabitants and made it peculiar and recognizable.
Tambura is a plucked string instrument. There are different types of the instrument according to its size, form and number of strings. Tambura is not an autochthon, but a traditional instrument in Slavonia and Baranja (as well as Croatia). According to Buddhist mythology, the first tambura was made by Tamburu, the patron deity of music and musicians.
Druring the 14th and 15th century, the Turks brought the predecessor of the modern tambura to Bosnia (the samica played by samac tambura player). The first written accounts of the tambura instrument date back to 1551 (Bosnia). The Šokci people spread its use to Slavonia, Branja, Vojvodina, later to the whole territory of Croatia. Two tamburica instruments are mentioned in a document from 1670 found in Šibenik.
The first written accounts of the music in Đakovo and the Đakovština area after the Turks left can be found in a writing of Bishop Petar Bakić (1716 – 1749) from 1725. The tambura was first mentioned, among other written accounts, in Satir (1762), the work of Matija Antun Relković (1732 – 1798). There are plenty more written records about music in Đakovo from that period, but they are mostly related to religious music and tambura is not mentioned.
Since 1834 the Theological Seminary in Đakovo has been the centre of ideas of the Illyrian movement in this part of Slavonia. In 1841 the Assembly of Spiritual Youth was founded in Đakovo. Mato Topalović and Juraj Tordinac were among its members. The Assembly nurtured spiritual and patriotic music in addition to writing. It is common knowledge that in 1847 Osijek-born Pajo Kolarić established the first tambura ensemble (6 members) in Croatia. The fact that five years earlier (1842), the ensemble Illyrian Tabura Players had been established as a part of the Assembly of Spiritual Youth is not as widely known. In the same year, Topalović published the book Tamburaši ilirski (Illyrian Tabura Players) containing Slavonian folk songs in Osijek.
The following conclusion can be drawn from that fact: Đakovo was the first town in Croatia to have a tambura ensemble. So why is Pajo Kolarić regarded as the founder of the first tambura ensemble? The reason lies in the fact that the founder of Croatian musicology and the first to use melographs, Osijek-born Franjo Ksaver Kuhač (1834 – 1911) was the first to record and publish it in his book Illyrian Musicians (Ilirski glazbenici). All other authors who later wrote about tambura used that fact without further research. In 1863 the Singers Association “Sklad” was established, the predecessor of today’s KUD bearing the same name. It was probably due to the incentive and ideas of bishop Strossmayer, who was the honorary member of the Association.
In 1896 the Singers Association “Preradović” was established, a tambura ensemble was active within the Association. After the Second World War the Association ceases to exist.
In the 1930s the craftspeople of Đakovo established the Tambura ensemble of the Croatian crafts youth, which participated in the 1st pageant of tambura players associations in Osijek in 1937. After the War, Antun Horvat establishes the tambura orchestra in the School of Economy. In 1952 the Singers Association “Ivo Lola Ribar” was established. The Association had a tambura player ensemble. In the same year Franjo Josip Kosina (1907 – 1983) came to Đakovo and established the tambura orchestra in the school and was the initiator of the Tambura Orchestra of the People’s Universtiy “August Cesarec” and the Town’s Music School (1952 – 1957). The orchestra had numerous performances in Croatia and performed successfully at the Đakovački vezovi Festival. The tambura players were active in the RKUD “Meteor” (1975 – 1977).
After 114 years, in 1977 the craftspeople of Đakovo revived the “Sklad” choir, which later became KUD “Sklad”. Within the Association, in 1981 folklore and tambura section emerged, which are still active.
The choir “Sklad” was successful until the beginning of the Croatian War of Independence, during the War it ceased to work. Since 1977 the choir masters were as follows: Franjo Josip Kosina, Vinko Brezovar, Adelhaida Glešć, and Adam Pavić.
In 1985 the RKUD of PIK Đakovo was established, which bears the name “Tena” since 1998. Tambura ensembles, a school for tambura players and tambura orchestra were active for a short time within the Association.
Đakovo plays an important part in the development, nurturing and preservation of tambura music in Croatia, due to the Đakovački vezovi Festival, arts and culture associations, schools, as well as many individuals and institutions. Đakovo has become the hometown of the most famous tambura ensembles in Croatia. Some of them popularized Slavonian and Croatian folk and tambura music during their performances in European countries, Australia, the USA and Canada.
The most popular tambura ensembles are as follows: “Slavonske lole”, “Dyaco”, “Zvona”, “Izvor”, “Slavonija band”, “Slavonski dukati”, “Nova banda”, “Kadenca”, “Inat slavonski”, “Slavonski san”, etc.
In 1999 the elementary music school in the “Ivan Goran Kovačić” Elementary School in Đakovo. The tambura section raises and educates future generations of tambura players in Đakovo who elevate tambura playing onto a higher, artistic level.
This is a short account of the development of tambura music in Đakovo. It needs to be noted that in this town in 1842 the first tambura ensemble in Croatia may have been established.
We would like to thank all the people who contributed to the development of and preserved the tambura instrument and music and we wish today’s and future generations of tambura players many successful years of being the pride of Slavonian and Croatian folk heritage.
In Đakovo, September 2013
Author: Adam Pavić