The Slovenia Times

Partisan songs part of Slovenia's intangible cultural heritage

The Partisan Choir performs at a 2018 ceremony marking the Day of Uprising against the Occupation. Photo: Danijel Novakovič/STA

Singing of partisan songs, which emerged during the Second World War and became hugely popular in the post-war period, has been inscribed into the Slovenian register of intangible cultural heritage.

The initiative came from the Partisan Choir in Ljubljana so that several hundred songs, interspersed across a number of libraries and archives, would be preserved for future generations.

Slovenian partisan songs originate from rebel and folk battle songs and emerged during the Second World War, according to the formal inscription maintained by the Culture Ministry.

At first, these battle, work, revolutionary and rebel songs were sung by impromptu groups of soldiers that were part of theatre or cultural groups and performed at cultural events in partisan units or in liberated territories.

Then, in April 1944, the Singing Squad, which consisted of 17 soldiers who were recovering in a partisan hospital, began operating. The Partisan Choir is its successor.

After the war, partisan songs were a pillar of state-sponsored musical production as well as part of formal education. After 1991, with democratisation, partisan songs were performed mostly in informal settings, but in recent years certain choirs and singing groups have rediscovered partisan songs.

Slovenian partisan songs are typically sung at commemorations of war and post-war events, but also at special celebrations, funerals, and protest rallies.

They are also becoming part of women's activism, for example the Women's Choir Kombinat and Feminist Choir Z'borke.

Their repertoire draws on partisan and rebel music tradition. Aside from original lyrics and music created during WWII, they often include other revolutionary and rebel songs from different nations and time periods.


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