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Slovenian pop music maestro Mojmir Sepe turns 90

Ljubljana, 11 July - Acclaimed composer Mojmir Sepe, who is credited with some of the most memorable tunes from the golden age of Slovenian pop music in the 1960s and 70s, turned 90 today. A pioneer of Slovenian pop music, Sepe told the STA on the occasion that he is joyfully looking back on his decades-long career.

Composer Mojmir Sepe in 2016 when the city of Ljubljana made him an honorary Ljubljana resident.
Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA
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Composer Mojmir Sepe (left) in 2011 when the city of Ljubljana made him an honorary resident.
Phto: Tamino Petelinšek/STA
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Composer Mojmir Sepe (right) receiving the Golden Order of Merit in 2019 from then President of Slovenia Danilo Türk.
Photo: Tina Kosec/STA
File photo

Sepe has written hundreds of pop songs, jazz and swing compositions, chansons and music for film and theatre, and his pop songs regularly won awards at festivals.

He recalls the role public broadcaster RTV Slovenija's music department used to play in encouraging writing music when he was starting his career.

"RTV used to be the patron of all music genres. So we lived a really good life during our best years doing what we liked and what we knew, which was appreciated."

He says that "the Ljubljana school" emerged entirely from the Big Band dance orchestra, which was engaged in a variety of music activities.

Sepe says that he can now calmly put the pencil down, also noting the music scene has changed a lot, so he has no desire to learn writing music on the computer.

The composer, born in 1930 in Črna na Koroškem (N), belonged to a circle of composers, singers and lyrics writers who started creating Slovenian pop music after WWII.

He has written many of the Slovenian evergreens, including Poletna Noč (Summer Night), which was declared in 2003 the best pop song ever to have featured at the pop song festival Slovenska Popevka.

Among them are also Zemlja Pleše (Earth Is Dancing), which Marjana Deržaj sang at the first Slovenska Popevka festival in 1962.

Sepe represented Yugoslavia at the Eurovision song contest twice, in 1966 and 1970; his Brez Besed (Without Words) was sung by Berta Ambrož, and Pridi, Dala Ti Bom Cvet (Come, I'll Give You a Flower) by Eva Seršen.

Many of his songs won awards at various festivals in Slovenia and other parts of Yugoslavia, where he also regularly appeared as a conductor before retiring in 1991.

Sepe started playing piano when he was six and then moved on to trumpet, both of which he later studied at the Music Academy in Ljubljana.

He joined Radio Ljubljana's Dance Orchestra, the predecessor of today's Big Band, while still a student.

He continued writing music for radio, TV, theatre and film also after retiring, turning to being "just a listener" only in recent years.

Sepe has received several accolades for his work, including the Kozina Award given out by the Slovenian Composers' Association, and the state order for his contribution to Slovenian pop and the development of Slovenian musical culture.

The Ljubljana Festival paid tribute to Sepe earlier this week with a concert, RTV Slovenija's record label has recently released some of his works, while TV Slovenija will run an interview with the maestro and a concert tonight.

© STA, 2020