Slavko Zlatić (1910-1993) – Croatian composer, conductor, ethnomusicologist, pedagogue, music critic, and music writer, author of many radio program series devoted to topics such as the music of Yugoslavia’s nations. He was choir leader in Rijeka and Zagreb, principally with the Zagreb Radio Choir (later the Croatian Radio and Television Choir) – the country’s first professional group of this kind. Zlatić would visit his home Istria throughout his entire life, being fascinated by its folk music and instruments. The Istrian scale, which he employed in his mostly choral compositions, was a strong inspiration for him. Zlatić filled many honourable functions; he was, among others, President of the Yugoslavian Composers’ Union and member of the UNESCO Music Council.
On Slavko Zlatić’s commission for his choir, Witold Lutosławski composed the Trois poèmes d’Henri Michaux. Since the choral parts are not synchronous and “in many places different types of rhythm appear simultaneously, it was necessary to introduce two conductors for the work’s performance”, as the composer emphasized.
The world premiere of Trois poèmes d’Henri Michaux took place on May 9, 1963, at the Music Biennale Zagreb, with the participation of the Radio Orchestra and Choir in Zagreb. Slavko Zlatić conducted the choir, and Witold Lutosławski, the orchestra. The event initiated Lutosławski’s activity as a conductor of his own works. (kt / trans. mk)