Jan Urban

Prague, 1875-1952, Valjevo, Serbia

Urban was a Czech composer who spent most of his life among the South Slav regions, initially in the Kingdom of Serbia, after 1918 in the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, and from 1929 until its occupation by the Nazis in 1941 in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. From his original arrival in Serbia in 1897 until 1941, he participated in two Balkan wars as well as the First World War, serving as a bandmaster. His military career led him to various cities of the kingdom of which Osijek stood out with its rich musical traditions, similar to his native Prague within Habsburg Austria until 1918. Following persecution by the Ustashe, Croatia’s Nazi collaborators, Urban and his family fled to Serbia until the end of the war, returning to Osijek in 1945. Among his most significant works are two operas (Mother, Đul-beaza), two operettas (Igumen’s Sin and Terpsichore), two children’s operettas, more than forty published piano pieces, eight Serbian Dances and thirteen Saltarelli for Orchestra, five suites, countless overtures, potpourris, marches, waltzes and works for solo violin.