Djuro Zivkovic (born in Belgrade, Serbia 1975) comes from a non-musical family, however his parents inspired in him a love for art. His early interest for folklore and Byzantine music has led him to develop a variety of compositional techniques such as poly-rhythmic, improvisation, special harmony based scales, microtones, layer-polyphony and heterophony.
His interest in the harmonic organization (after the year 2002) has resulted in a new approach to his composition process: He finds harmony to be one of the most important areas existing in contemporary and 20th Century music and thus must be considered as a crucial subject in the compositions of today. Rather than building chords in some logical manner which are de facto isolated from each other and thus denied functional steps towards unity, or building scales lacking in functional power, Zivkovic finds importance in the so called harmonic field, the way that chords exist in coherence or in symbiosis with themselves, thus creating the genesis and harmonic path.
His harmonic-field technique is now a topic of academic research at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz in Austria and the derivative products of his harmonic approach are compositions such as Le Cimètiere Marin and The White Angel in which are entirely released basic harmonic principles.
Djuro Zivkovic has been living and working in Stockholm, Sweden since 2000. His music is commissioned, performed, recorded and broadcast across Europe and North America, by the leading European musicians, these include the New York Philharmonic (USA), Royal Concertgebouw Orkest Amsterdam (Netherlands), Sonanza Ensemble (Sweden), pre-art (Switzerland), Klangforum Wien (Austria), Malmö Symphony Orchestra (Sweden), Trio Fibonacci (Canada/Belgium), Musica Vitae Chamber Orchestra (Sweden), Alabama Symphony Orchestra (USA), Asko | Schönberg (Netherlands), Tokyo Int Ensemble (Japan), New European Ensemble (Netherlands), BIT20 (Norway), Zeitfluß (Austria), Seattle Symphony Orchestra (USA), L’Itinéraire (France); Anna Larsson, Christian Karlssen, Emilio Pomarico, Brett Dean, Clement Power, Brad Lubman, Shi-Yeon Sung, etc.
His music holds the Swedish Grammy Award 2010 (Grammis) with Sonanza for the piece Le Cimetière Marin for mezzo-soprano and ensemble. Ascetic Discourse a cantata for mezzo-soprano and ensemble has received the Mokranjac Award 2012, the state prize given by Culture Department for the best Serbian composition premiered 2012. His piece On the Guarding of the Heart has got the prestigious Grawemeyer Award in Music Composition 2014. He is the member of STIM, FST and UKS. He studied and later taught at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm.
As a performer Djuro Zivkovic appears as a violinist and recently as a violist performing the standard repertoire as well as music from the XX Century and pieces written for him. Djuro Zivkovic is particularly interested in the improvisation of music.
Zivkovic shows his early interest in combination of music and philosophy in his first mature works such as the Metaphysical Poem, a 37-minute mystic violin sonata (written at the age of 22), in which he shows an inclination towards both aesthetical and ethical questions in relationship to the art of music. For Djuro Zivkovic the work of art is viewed not only as an aesthetic object but rather the ethic entity which is central and essential to our world: The Art of Music has to be considered as a fundamental philosophical thought with the possibility to change humankind: This is a vital necessity in order to transform our destiny for the better.
As a composer Zivkovic is non-compromising in the appraisal of his work and for him the reason for the existence of art lies in its power to communicate. The flexibility of musical communication gives an opportunity for the transference of messages between people which is unquestionably the opposite of today’s populist “Ego-art”; and that communication can be achieved only by detaching the need for self-possession and self-attraction, thus creating instead “Free Art for all humanity in all times”. For Zivkovic, the composer shouldn’t be understood by audience, rather – the composer should understand the audience.