Born: May 17th, 1921, Zagreb (Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians, nowadays Croatia)
Died: July 7th, 2006, Ljubljana (Slovenia)
Mario Rijavec hailed from a musical family, his father being the tenor Josip Rijavec. He was the saxophonist of the jazz ensemble The Devils; as a pianist and an arranger, he worked with the RTV Ljubljana Dance Orchestra, for which he wrote over 750 adaptations of renowned musical pieces. From 1955 until 1965, Rijavec was the pianist of the Ljubljana Jazz Ensemble. In 1962, he was jury president in the very first Festival Slovenske Popevke (Festival of Slovenian Pop Songs), held in Bled. It was not until later in his career that he decided to study music professionally. In 1968, he graduated at the Ljubljana Academy of Music, having studied music history; he wrote a thesis on the development of jazz. The last job before his retirement (in 1984) was Head of Production of popular music at Radio Ljubljana. Mario Rijavec composed and arranged countless popular songs for artists the like of Stanka Kovačič, Edwin Fliser, and Lola Novaković. He took part as an arranger and conductor to music festivals in Opatija, Belgrade, Split, and Zagreb. Moreover, he wrote film music, for example for the 1967 movie ‘Nevidni bataljon’.
Mario Rijavec took part as a conductor in the Eurovision Song Contest twice. In 1967, Yugoslavia was represented by a song of peace with Slovenian lyrics, ‘Vse rože sveta’, performed by Lado Leskovar. Rijavec had written the arrangement himself and was conductor of the song on the record version, on which Leskovar is accompanied by the Zabavni Orkestar RTV Ljubljana. In Vienna, Leskovar and Rijavec came 8th. Eight years later, in 1975, the Yugoslavian preselection was again won by a song submitted by the Slovenian TV, ‘Dan ljubezni’, which was interpreted by the group Pepel & Kri. This time around, Rijavec conducted the orchestra without having written the arrangement, leaving that part of the job to Deco Žgur. The country-esque song scored a meagre 22 points in Stockholm, finishing in a 13th place.
In due course, a more extensive biography of Mario Rijavec will be published on this website
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