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He played oboe and cor anglais in the Slovenian Radio Symphony Orchestra, and in 1955 he won a prize for his Goga Symphony. His early music had echoes of neoclassicism, then he had an avant-garde phase, before returning to a traditional musical style. Besides the Goga Symphony (No 1), he wrote two other symphonies, a Concerto Grosso and Symphonic Mutations. There were also four wind quintets, concertos, sonatas and the 1995 cantata The Song of Life for mezzo-soprano and orchestra.
He and his colleagues created the composers' group Pro Musica Viva, which promoted concerts of avant-garde composers. Petrić became the leader of the Slavko Osterc Chamber Ensemble, with which he toured Europe, including an invitation from Lutoslawski to perform at Warsaw Autumn 1963, and broadcasts from several European radio stations.
Petrić won various prizes, including the 1984 Oscar Espla Competition in Alicante for his symphonic poem The Picture of Dorian Gray, and the 2001 Kozina Prize for his Six String Quartets.
From 1979 until 1995 he was Artistic Director of the Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra, and had various other roles within the musical life of Slovenia, including as secretary of the Composers' Society, and Editor-in-Chief of their publishing house. He also lectured at the Academy of Music in Ljubljana.
Ivo Petrić died on 13 September 2018, aged eighty-seven.