Stevan Kovacs Tickmayer (1963, Serb)

What’s a guy born in a country called Yugoslavia that doesn’t exist any more, in the part of the country that is now the Republic of Serbia but in a small enclave peopled by Hungarian populations, and who left the country with the outbreak of the civil war to establish in France and never went back to his city of birth? The long and very idiosyncratic autobiographical essay he published on his own website doesn’t say that he’s acquired French citizenship, so which passport does he have? Serb? Until further notice I’ll call him a Serb, then – not meant as an insult (except, I guess, if you are Croat or Bosnian).

(I was reading the other day the Wikipedia entry of Gavrilo Princip, the guy who shot Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in 1914 in Sarajevo and thus caused the outbreak of World War I and everything that it entailed: the deaths of millions of military and civilians, the terminal annihilation of an “old-world”, dear to Stefan Zweig, that had unwittingly been dancing on th edge of a volcano, and, ultimately, World War II. I wanted to refresh my old memories of who back then was what and why. Well!.. To think that the nationalist and independent Serbs caused ALL THAT because they wanted to be united with Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, which were then part of the Austro-Hungarian empire…  only, some 75 years later, to launch a slaughtering civil war which led to the three nations to break up. Hey you guys, there might have been more peaceful ways to finish at your starting line, no?)

I first heard the music of Tickmayer in Gidon Kremer’s orchestral recital on Nonesuch, “De Profundis”. The program has its ups and downs, but Tickmayer’s composition, an elaboration after Bach’s Lasset Uns Den Nicht Zerteilen, was intriguing enough for me to want to explore more, and more was Tickmayer’s CD from 2008 “Cold Peace Counterpoints”. It straddles contemporary and what I suppose is avant-garde rock, and I’ve found it rowdy, imaginative, and fun.

Comments are welcome