Epic Folk Songs from Bosnia and Herzegovina The Collection of Matija Murko (1912, 1913), Series 16

New publication in the series “The Complete Historical Collections 1899–1950”

Editors: Gerda Lechleitner & Christian Liebl
Comments: Muhamed Arnaut, Tamara Karača Baljak, Franz Lechleitner, Gerda Lechleitner, Johannes Spitzbart, Jasmina Talam
OEAW PHA CD 40, 2017.

This edition – comprising the collections of Matija Murko, made in 1912 and 1913 – releases all his recordings preserved in the Phonogrammarchiv; it also aims to shed light on Murko’s research and phonographic fieldwork in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which he carried out just before the outbreak of World War I.

Murko was convinced that his research into epic singing could be improved considerably by using a recording device. Although Murko’s activities are quite well known, e.g. from his publications (1913 and 1915), his sound recordings are still waiting to be noticed and distributed. Murko was supported by the Balkan Commission and the Phonogrammarchiv (both part of the former Imperial Academy of Sciences in Vienna); moreover, Murko’s results can be considered the basis for Milman Parry’s ground‐breaking research in the field of orality, since his meeting with Murko in Paris in 1928 stimulated Parry’s studies in former Yugoslavia.

This edition could not have been prepared had it not been for the fruitful cooperation with the University of Sarajevo, Academy of Music, Department of Musicology and Ethnomusicology. The two ethnomusicologists, Jasmina Talam and Tamara Karača Beljak, have been known to us for years and so it was a welcome opportunity to have them as specialists for this publication. It is to their efforts that we owe the transcriptions of the (partly rather bad) recordings and the insightful comments concerning Murko’s research and results in relation to contemporary and later scholars. Moreover, Muhamed Arnaut compiled a dictionary of old and lesser known Bosnian words found in Murko’s recordings for better understanding of the epic songs as recited more than 100 years ago. For ethnomusicologists and researchers of folk literature, Murko’s recordings are extremely valuable because they represent a manner of performing epic songs which one can no longer find in contemporary live folk musical practice.

Visit our Audio Publications site for a selection of sound samples from this publication.