Slovenia is grieving for the legendary accordion player and composer Slavko Avsenik, who died on Thursday aged 85. Irma Rauh, music editor at Radio Slovenia, described him a the biggest Slovenian musician, a genius, giant of folk music, whose music is an important part of Slovenian culture.
Rauh stressed that Slavko Avsenik and his brother Vilko, who formed in the 1950s the oompah music ensemble Avsenik Brothers, were responsible for more than 1,000 exceptional songs and were the recipients of the highest European honours.
Singer Alfi Nipič, who was part of the ensemble from the beginning of the 70s until 1990, remembers Slavko Avsenik as a hard worker.
“He was creating a lot and always demanded of us to give our best. This is why the band was so successful,” he told the STA.
Nipič remembered an acclaimed music editor for Toronto telling him during a visit to the US in the 1980s that the ensemble, which made it big in Germany while also extensively touring Northern America, should stay in the states.
“I think you could be as successful as the Beatles, since you are playing a completely new type of music,” Nipič quoted the editor, adding that what he sees not as folk music but “Avsenik’s music” is being played by thousands of bands around the world today.
Ivan Sivec, who has written a monograph on the Avsenik brothers, argued that the brothers were “not only about a transition from folk to a new type of music, but about a fusion of folk elements with brass music elements, which has a 350-year-old history in Slovenia“.
The brothers were such powerful artists that this type of music “grew in to a mass spiritual culture that has been embraced by the whole world“.
Sivec, who also described Slavko Avsenik as a very warm human being, said around 600 bands are modelling their music on the Avseniks in Slovenia today and more than 10,000 around the world.
The death of Avsenik has also touched President Borut Pahor, who expressed his condolences to the musician’s family and gratitude for his invaluable work.
Avsenik will be buried on Tuesday in his home town of Begunje na Gorenjskem, where a book of condolence has been opened.