Forum | Musician's
Zone | WNY
History | General
Instruments | Commentary | Stories
& Memories Archive | Hall
of Fame | Photos
are Tamburitzas or Tamburitza instruments?
TAMBURITZA/TAMBURICA is rooted
in the word TAMBURAS (Serbian or Croatian)and are
a family of fretted steel acoustic stringed instruments
used primarily in Southeastern Europe or areas of
The Balkan States (The former Yugoslavia, Bosnia and
Croatia).The instruments are played in other Eastern
European areas and groups as well. The word TAMBURA
originates from the Turkish word TAMBURa
similar type of stringed instrument. TAMBURA
may have also originated from TAMBURU
a Persian word for string.Another possibility
is a derivation from the Buddhist God TAMBURU-who
according to Buddhist Mythology is the protection
of music and musicians. Others believe that TAMBURA
may also have come from the ancient Sumerian PAN-TUR
meaning SMALL-BOW. From PAN-TUR
came PANDURA and then TAMBURA.
It is believed historically that the tamburitza goes
back more than 5000 years to Persia and the Assyrians
of that time. Tamburitza instruments have a relationship
to the 14th and 15th century Turkish long necked lutes.
The first recorded appearance of tamburitza in the
Balkan area was Bosnia approximately 500 years ago.(Following
the Ottoman Turkish Empire invasion). Historical and
poetry records the existence of tamburitzas in the
Walter Kolar-Tamburitza Association Hall Of Fame Recipient
and former director emeritus of The Duquesne University
Tamburitzans gives what he feels is the earliest idea
of when the tamburitza instruments came to be:
In the year 591 A.D. the Byzantine King Mauricius
was contesting the Roman Empire in Thrace. Here he
captured three Slavs . To the astonishment of Mauricius
he found these Slavs carrying with them only a Cithara.
With surprise he asked these Slavs What was
that in their hands? They replied We are
Slavs and we live along the Western Seas (Adriatic).
We play the Cithara because in our country there is
no iron and we live in peace. We do not know the meaning
of war bugles.
As stated earlier the first known appearance of the
tamburitza was in Bosnia and from there it quickly
spread to the regions of Slavonia, and Backa. Tamburitza
heritage was passed down from generation to generation.
The first known amateur tamburitza orchestra of six
tamburitza players was formed in 1847 by Pajo Kolaric
who was also the first well known tamburitza composer.
In 1872 a student of Kolaric-Mijo Majer formed the
first tamburitza choir. The first tamburitza concert
was given by Ivan Sladicek with a group of four players
in 1879. Majer was the first composer and arranger
of concert works for tamburitza orchestras.
Soon after-the formation of amateur tamburitza orchestras
spread throughout Croatia, Bosnia, Slovenia , Yugoslavia,
Czechoslovakia, Slovenia, and Austria.
The tamburitza instruments are related to the Turkish
lute, Russian balalaika, Ukrainian Bandura, Italian
mandolin and the Greek bazouki.
The first known American tamburitza ensemble as a
result of massive immigration from Eastern Europe
to North America occurred between the years 1870 and
1910. The Hoffer Family Tamburitza Orchestra of Steelton
Pennsylvania was active in the 1890s. Ilar Spiletek
of Dubrovnik founded various tamburitza orchestras
in San Francisco beginning in 1902.
By the 1920s tamburitza music was well established
in American- Slavic communities and The Duquesne University
Tamburitzans of Pennsylvania was founded in 1937.
It is the only United States university at present
with a scholarship program and global concept music
program that is developed around tamburitzan instruments.
Its students travel globally with their creative and
inspiring music concerts and programs to the delight
of fans wherever they appear. Duquesne continues to
entertain, preserve and elevate tamburitza music throught
the talents of its administrators, leadership, instructors,
and outstanding student performers.
On a personal note Empire State College (www.esc.edu)
in New York has given college credit for life learnings
and as part of my degree program I received the equivalent
of several courses worth of college credit for writing
my life studies tamburitza education and experience
into course equivalents with the recommendation and
expertise of Vlad Popovich, Duquesne University Tamburitzan
graduate and member of The Balkan Serenaders founded
by Tillie Klaich). I have no doubt that students pursuing
careers and education in various fields of study today
(at participating colleges and universities with life
studies credit programs) have the opportunity to claim
their life learning education in tamburitza music
as course credit).
Today at Duquesne University The Tillie Klaich Endowment
program has been established in honor of his outstanding
contributions to tamburitza music. The scholarship
program was developed to help finance students education
while participating in the tamburitzan program at
(With many thanks for the efforts of Vlad Popovich
and Alex Machaskee for making this program possible)
. The Eastern European Folklife Center (EEFC) www.mindspring.com/~ginbirch/eefc
has also had programs where partial college credit
(by participating college programs) may be received
as part of camp participation. and study.
The Tamburitza Association Of America was established
in 1966/67by Lou Cavic www.tamburitza.org/TAA/
In later years from 1975 to 2000 under the superb
management of Mr. Alex Machaskee (TAA Hall Of Fame)
the TAA has grown in stature and prominence with several
thousand members throughout the United States and
Canada. The TAA has a list of 185+ groups nationally
and the names of 600+ performers.
TAA site also has a complete list of Hall Of Fame
Inductees, Presidential Award recipients and a Scroll
Of Recognition for deceased tamburashi. The TAA is
working on biographical information and more. Today
Mr. Rich Krilich is the President of the TAA which
has an executive board of directors and board members
to govern its program. Annually the TAA sponsors a
Tamburitza Extravganza with approximately 25 groups
featured giving concert performances and much more.
It is also where they give out their annual awards
to those tamburitzans for outstanding contributions
Other tamburitza organizations in the US are the Arizona
Slavic Music Association, The Croatian Fraternal Union
and the Slavic Cultural Center. The Croatian Fraternal
Union has a large well organized tamburitza program
within the United States and Croatia has tamburitza
festivals on an annual basis. Only within recent years
has mid-west tamburitza mini-festivals become organized
and more as tamburitza music continues to evolve and
grow within the US.
Today it is said in the United States that tamburitza
music is claimed to be the single most prevalent ethnic
instrument transplanted to America from a foreign