Its origins date back to 1964, when evening concerts of baroque music were organized in Maribor Castle by the Concert Management Office (Koncertna poslovalnica) of the National Centre, Maribor (Narodni dom Maribor). Four years later, thanks to the efforts of Dr Sergej Vrišer and pianist Janko Šetinc, the Festival of Baroque Music was officially established as one of the Concert Management Office’s primary activities. In the decade of its existence, the festival earned a reputation as one of the most interesting and high-quality music festivals in Slovenia. The Collegium Musicum ensemble was created together with the festival and featured a line-up of established artists known for their excellence, placing the Festival Maribor alongside pioneering efforts that were gaining traction on the international music scene to perform early music in a historically appropriate way.
Photo: Collegium Musicum Maribor and Janko Šetinc (1973)
The Baroque Music Festival was recast in 1994 as Musical September, an ambitious chamber music festival that wasn’t limited to any particular style and explored more modern programming concepts. As artistic director of the festival, pianist and professor Janko Šetinc was responsible for the design of the programs. Although originally conceived as an expanded baroque festival featuring more performers, Musical September began to move further and further away from this original concept.
The principle focus became the festival’s own unique productions, which were distinguished by their subtle programming, first-rate performances (renowned musicians from all over the world took part in the festival) and an organizational strategy that was unique in Slovenia at the time.
As it expanded its reach to include venues in the surrounding region (including those in Ptuj, Slovenj Gradec, Dornava, and other towns), the festival gradually developed into one of the most prominent classical music festivals in the country. Janko Šetinc, the creative force behind Musical September, was succeeded as artistic director by hornist Radovan Vlatković, one of the most renowned chamber musicians in the world.
Photo: Radovan Vlatković (Musical September 2004)
The year 2008 brought the festival new dimensions and a new name - FestivalMaribor. With Brigita Pavlič at the helm and under the direction of the exceptional violinist, conductor and composer Richard Tognetti, the festival continued to produce its own events presenting programmes and ensembles created especially for the festival. The number of concert offerings was increased and symphonic works were added alongside chamber music thanks to the establishment of the Festival Maribor Orchestra.
In 2016, the cellist and conductor Nicolas Altstaedt joined the festival as director of the festival ensemble and Artist-in-Residence. The Festival Maribor began to present an inspired mix of pieces, styles and artists, consistently offering listeners a freshness both in their programming and in their performances, leading tos interesting and unpredictable musical adventures.
Photo: Richard Tognetti (Festival Maribor 2008)
Between 2010 and 2016 the Festival Maribor operated as an independent non-profit organization, and since 2017 it has again been under the aegis of the Concert Management Office of the National Centre, Maribor (Narodni dom). Featuring a range of insightful first class artists and careful curation of innovative projects, the Festival Maribor – despite a reduction in the number of events due to ever-shrinking financial resources in recent years – continues to strengthen its reputation as a high quality classical music festival unafraid of innovative approaches to presenting classical music, one that moves beyond genre limitations to erase the gap between artists and audiences. In doing so, it has also established itself as a unique educational platform that seeks to engage the widest possible range of patrons, regardless of age, education or social background, through the presentation of art of the highest quality.