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Oberkrainer Polka Pioneer Slavko Avsenik Laid to Rest

Begunje na Gorenjskem, 7 July - Slovenia laid to rest on Tuesday Slavko Avsenik (1929-2015), the creator of the world-famous Oberkrainer polka and the country's most successful musician, whose band had sold more than 30 million records.

Begunje na Gorenjskem
Slavko Avsenik is laid to rest with military honours.
Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA

Begunje na Gorenjskem
Slavko Avsenik is laid to rest with military honours.
Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA

Begunje na Gorenjskem
Slavko Avsenik is laid to rest with military honours.
Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA

Begunje na Gorenjskem
Slavko Avsenik is laid to rest with military honours.
Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA

Begunje na Gorenjskem
Slavko Avsenik is laid to rest with military honours.
Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA

Begunje na Gorenjskem
Slavko Avsenik is laid to rest with military honours.
Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA

Begunje na Gorenjskem
President Borut Pahor pays respect ahead of Slavko Avsenik funeral.
Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA

Begunje na Gorenjskem
Thousands of people, many in folk wear, attend the funeral of Slavko Avsenik.
Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA

Begunje na Gorenjskem
Prime Minister Miro Cerar pays respect ahead of Slavko Avsenik funeral.
Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA

Begunje na Gorenjskem
Prime Minister Miro Cerar pays respect ahead of Slavko Avsenik funeral.
Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA

Begunje na Gorenjskem
Prime Minister Miro Cerar pays respect ahead of Slavko Avsenik funeral.
Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA

Avsenik was buried with military honours in a small cemetery near his home in the Alpine village of Begunje na Gorenjskem.

Thousands were expected at the ceremony, but the crowd was scarcer as many stayed away due to a heat wave and watched the funeral live on TV instead.

The official ceremonies started with mass given Bishop Anton Jamnik in the Begunje parish church, which was followed by a ceremony in front of the historic Avsenik family home.

Also attending the mourning ceremonies was President Borut Pahor, who addressed the event in front of the Avsenik house, a 150-year old tavern in the centre of the village.

Pahor said that Avsenik created the musical equivalent of Slovenians' joie de vivre and the love of their country. He did this with such sincerity that many other nations made Avsenik's music their own.

The president moreover said that Avsenik's "Na Golici" was just as much an anthem to Slovenians as the country's official anthem, "The Toast", a poem by France Prešeren.

"Two songs that define us....Prešeren speaks of unity, happiness and reconciliation, while Slavko Avsenik expresses them in music."

Other top officials have expressed their condolences, with Prime Minister Miro Cerar stopping in Begunje before leaving for the eurozone summit in Brussels later today.

Avsenik died last week at the age of 85. He is the creator of Oberkrainer music, a distinctive polka, very popular in central Europe and among European expats in the Americas and Australia.

The band he started with his brother Vilko in 1953 sold more than 30 million records across the world and recorded some 670 songs.

The Avsenik brothers produced more than 1,000 songs and their band played in front of millions of fans at thousands of concerts.

One of their first songs, a polka entitled "Na Golici" (Trompetenecho in German, Trumpet Echo in English), is believed to be the most often played instrumental song in the world and has become an iconic piece of Slovenian music.

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© STA, 2015