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Croatian composer and teacher Josip Štolcer-Slavenski was born in Čakovec on 11 May 1896. He studied with his father and then at the Budapest Conservatory with Béla Bartók, Zoltán Kodály and Albert Siklós, but he had to interrupt his studies because of army service, and when the war ended he returned home to work in his father's bakery. From 1921-23 he completed his studies at the Prague Conservatory with Vítězslav Novák.
He taught for a year at the Zagreb Music Academy and then, apart from a period in Paris, he lived in Belgrade for the rest of his life, teaching at the Stanković School of Music and then at the Belgrade Academy music school, where he became professor of composition in 1945.
His music began to attract attention in 1920 with a performance in Zagreb of Notturno, Op 1. Four years later his String Quartet No 1 had a successful performance at the Donaueschingen Festival in Germany. His symphony Balkanophonia was taken up by Carlos Kleiber and performed around Europe and the USA, making him the first twentieth century Yugoslav composer to be known internationally.
At home the Belgrade critics were hostile and the public conservative, and he wrote very little after 1938. After his death in Belgrade on 30 November 1955, aged fifty-nine, his true stature began to be recognised.