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Ensemble

Pure serendipity

Music on the Croatian islands of Vis and Bisevo,
explored by KEITH BRAMICH

 

Two hours by ferry towards Italy from Croatia's second city, Split, the wild and strategically important island of Vis was occupied by the British during World War II. Tito stayed there for a few months in 1944, directing operations from a cave on the side of Mount Hum, supposedly giving a passable rendition of Edward Lear's The Owl and the Pussycat whilst travelling to the island on board the HMS Blackmore.

A Benedictine Monastery high above the town of Komiza. Behind is Mount Hum (587 metres), the highest point on the island of Vis, and home, briefly, to Josip Broz Tito in 1944. Photo © 2003 Keith Bramich
A Benedictine Monastery high above the town of Komiza. Behind is Mount Hum (587 metres), the highest point on the island of Vis, and home, briefly, to Josip Broz Tito in 1944. Photo © 2003 Keith Bramich

Remaining in the hands of the military and out-of-bounds to foreigners until the late 1980s, Vis is a relatively unspoilt island, teeming with wildlife, and now a popular overnight destination for the yachting fraternity and a haven for the few other tourists who make the effort to visit and dine in surprisingly good quality restaurants.

The Jadrolinija Ferry from Split arrives in Vis Town. Photo © 2003 Keith Bramich
The Jadrolinija Ferry from Split arrives in Vis Town. Photo © 2003 Keith Bramich

Also surprising, for this is the furthest offshore of Croatia's inhabited Adriatic islands, is the number of classical concerts taking place here during the main July-August tourist season. On average there are one or two a week, or about fifteen concerts per season -- and so I was lucky, during a four-night stay, to hear two performances in Vis Town and some late-night live jazz in the village of Kut. Vis mightn't attract visitors who just want to listen to concerts -- there's quite a difference between music here and the daily events of the 2003 Split Summer Festival, where an impressive al fresco performance of Verdi's Nabucco in Diocletian's palace was also broadcast by Croatian TV, or that of Dubrovnik, further down the coast, which is the subject of a previous article.

Part of Diocletian's Palace in Split - the setting for Verdi's <i>Nabucco</i> as part of the 2003 Split Summer Festival. Photo © 2003 Keith Bramich
Part of Diocletian's Palace in Split - the setting for Verdi's Nabucco as part of the 2003 Split Summer Festival. Photo © 2003 Keith Bramich

 

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Copyright © 17 August 2003 Keith Bramich, Worcestershire, UK

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