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Nikica Kalogjera: from Musicals to Film Scores

Composer Nikica Kalogjera mostly works in the field of popular music. He played the piano in popular bands, conducted the Dance band of RTZ, produced compact discs, and organised festivals of popular music. Kalogjera also wrote popular melodies, chansons and songs for children, as well as music for theatres and children TV series.

It is less known that he has also composed film music. His filmography includes seven motion pictures, four of which directed Obrad Glušević. Thus, we decided to analyse two of his scores from films directed by this director: Naked Man and Captain Mikula Mali.

The score for Naked Man has several themes among which stands out the main theme, although we can easily recognize even less important parts like Špiro’s theme, neo-baroque music for Mr. Tanto, children songs, street themes with Italian overtones, Dalmatian harmony-singing, etc. The main characteristic of Kalogjera’s music for Naked Man is its functionality. The score supports the film narrative, but since the film is dissected into a series of episodes, the music itself seems fragmentary and incomplete.

The problem of a coherent score, which remained unsolved in the movie Naked Man due to the fragmentary nature of the film, Nikica Kalogjera skilfully resolved in the motion picture Captain Mikula Mali. Here we encounter one main theme, which affirms Kalogjera’s inclination towards writing monothematic scores, observable already in Naked Man.

Comparing film scores for Naked man and Captain Mikula Mali, besides their monothematic quality, we also reveal some other constants which appear as standards of Kalogjera’s style of composing. These are: musical pieces are often neutral, he uses timpani as basic instruments for creating drama and tension, displays melodic, harmonic and formal simplicity, has a firm base in tonality, frequently uses sequences, makes simple rhythmic and melodic variations of themes and motives, uses repetitions, etc.

The comparison of these two scores also points to some positive changes that suggest that Nikica Kalogjera has developed as a composer of film music. These changes mostly refer to the creation of the impression of coherence and the manner of forming a Leitmotif.

In Naked Man, musical themes, and sometimes even whole musical parts, were transferred from scene to scene. They appeared in sequence, only in one part of the movie, so that their function of Leitmotifs was rather questionable. In Captain Mikula Mali, each time we hear grandfather’s and Mikula’s theme it is slightly different, but since it is spread over the film in orderly fashion it is obvious that we are dealing with a true Leimotif.

The problem of cohesion, which in Naked Man arose from film’s fragmentary structure, in Captain Mikula Mali no longer exists. Clearly defining one theme, the composer created one coherent monothematic score.

Irena Paulus


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