14 June 2012



He is one of our best and the most popular and much wanted clarinetists. At the request of many readers of our clarinet website, I made a lengthy interview with Boki.

The legendary clarinetist can and will tell us much that is worth telling, since he has been actively associated with the clarinet – for 65 years.

RL: Boki, welcome to our clarinet website, welcome on behalf of all its visitors!

– Greetings to all clarinet lovers and lovers of quality music and I wish us to meet as much as possible in good spirits.

RL: Do you remember your beginning of association with the clarinet? Tell our readers something about it.

Slika iz ranog detinjstva, Božidar sa sestrom Paraskevom.

Image from early childhood, Božidar with his sister Paraskeva.

– My contact with the clarinet was random. It was related to one birthday, back in 1947 in Prokuplje.

Since I had been playing the violin for 6 years, I took it to one party because our events were usually celebrated with music. My friend, flautist Dragi Aranđelović, also came and brought his old clarinet. At one point, a bit drunk, Dragi took my violin and started to harass it.

It was not easy to get wires at that time and I feared that he might break them. I asked him to give me the violin, but he did not want to hear. To pay him back, I took his clarinet from the table and began to treat it just the way he had done with my violin.

RL: I guess you couldn’t get the tone right away?

– On the contrary! Probably a natural predisposition of lips and teeth produced a tone immediately, not a blunder. It made me so carried away, especially because at that time films about the famous clarinetist Benny Goodman and Woody Herman were very actual. Since then, I have  believed in love at first sight.

I asked my friend to give me the clarinet to take it home and have a look at it.

I could hardly wait for daybreak. My mother had old Vranje mirror with three wings. When I stood in front of it with the clarinet, I looked to myself kind of special guy. Since then I have not wanted to take the violin in my hands.

RL: Who was your first teacher of the clarinet?

– As there was no music school at that time, I started as a self-taught. I blew and blew the clarinet and the mother just clutched hands to her head and kept saying:

„Well, son, how nice it sounds when you play the violin!? What does this mean: du, and du, and duuu!?„

– But I was persistent and … and so were the days passing by …

I used to play at dances in Prokuplje. It was the only way to make music contact with the audience.

When I was the seventh year of grammar school, the famous violinist of Radio Belgrade, Vlastimir Pavlović – Carevac came with his orchestra to Prokuplje. They had a concert at the Army Hall.

At the dinner in the hotel “Europe”, Carevac heard me when I was playing the clarinet. He wanted to introduce me and asked someone to call me. Quivering, I stepped in front of maestro Carevac who said to me:

“Dude, tonight you have passed the audition for the National Orchestra of Radio BelgradeFinish the eighth year of grammar school and come to Belgrade“.

Then the Radio Belgrade was the centre of musical life in the former Yugoslavia.

I was afraid to tell the parents about the invitation of famous Carevac.

RL: You had completed the eighth grade of grammar school and quickly headed to Belgrade?

– In 1950 I came to Belgrade to study. I enrolled English at the Faculty of Philology, in orded to get student status. At the Music School “Josip Slavenski“, under the mentorship of professor Franjo Partlić, I passed the I preparatory class (based on my self-taught knowledge) and was immediately admitted in the second grade. So, besides studies and work in Radio Belgrade, I made great progress in the clarinet and music education by finishing the High Music School in the class of professor Partlić.

Later, in 1960, after the professor had retired, I succeeded in  his position as a professor of the clarinet at the Music School “Josip Slavenski“, which was then a part of the Academy of Music. I had worked there for 6 years. When I moved to Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra I gave my position of the clarinet professor to my collegue Milenko Stefanović.

I had finished the Academy of Music in Belgrade in the class of brilliant professor Bruno Brun, and after that earned there Master’s degree.

RL: Let’s sum up your clarinet experience.

– I’m 81 years of age, and I began to play the clarinet in 1947.

So, I have been playing the clarinet for 65 years now. These are my first 80 years of life.


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