Born in Sarajevo to a Serbian mother and a Croatian father after a few years of (very unenthusiastic) violin studies Goran formed his first group, the White Button, at the age of 16. White Button’s rock-n-roll style was influenced by the desire for Bregovic and his friends to find an outlet for self-expression. As he explained, “In those times, rock had a capital role in our lives. It was the only way we could make our voices heard and publicly express our discontent without risking jail.”
Bregovic toured with White Button for 15 years before taking time off to compose music for Emir Kusturica’s film, Times of the Gypsies. He went on to compose for several other films including Arizona Dream, 27 Missing Kisses, and Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or winners La Reine Margot and Underground. Recently, Bergovic composed the music for Radu Mihaelanu’s Train de Vie, which released to great critical acclaim in Venice, Sao Paolo, and Berlin. He also added “actor” to his resume after playing the lead role, in addition to composing music, in the films Giorni dell’Abandono and Music for Weddings and Funerals. Additional music cred- its include Silence of the Balkans, Hamlet, The Children’s Crusade, and Divine Comedy.
In 1995, Bregovic began performing live with more than 100 musicians in mega-concerts given in Greece, Sweden, and Belgium. The following year, Bregovic performed very few concerts due to the intimidating size of his large orchestra. In 1997, he reduced the size of the orchestra to 50 musicians and performed a concert of his music composed for film. A successful European tour with his Wedding and Funeral Orchestra followed, showcasing some of Bregovic’s most beautiful pieces including “Ederlezi,” “In the Death Car,” and “Kalasnikov.” A concert stop at the Piazza St. Giovanni in Rome drew more than 500,000 fans, confirming without a doubt that Bregovic’s music had reached an international level of success.
In 2002, Bergovic combined three members of the Moscow Orthodox Choir, the string sec- tion of the Moroccan Tetouan, and his Wedding and Funeral Orchestra for a special program called “My Heart has Become Tolerant,” commissioned by the Festival of Sacred Music of St. Denis. The program was also performed that year at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome, the Esplanade of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, and the Festival of Sacred Music in Fez, Morocco.
In 2004, Bregovic composed his first opera entitled, “Goran Bregovic’s Karmen with a Happy End”. Written, composed, and directed by Bregovic, the gypsy opera is interpreted by members of his Wedding and Funeral Orchestra and has been performed more than 100 times since its debut. In 2005, Bregovic’s legendary group, White Button, reunited for a sold-out tour of three former Yugoslav capitals. The success of the shows proved that Bregovic’s music had the power to unite people through his heritage-rich sound. Bregovic brought the tour to North America in 2006, performing extraordinary concerts at the Montreal Jazz Festival, Chicago’s Millennium Park, and the Lincoln Center Festival in New York.
Bregovic’s new album, Champagne for Gypsies, is scheduled for a 2012 release and represents a reaction to the extreme pressure and discontent that Gypsies have been experiencing across Europe.
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