Composer and Yugoslavian representative at Eurovision 1974, Korneliije Kovač passed away

The famous Serbian composer Kornelije Kovač passed away this morning at the age of 81. Kornelije “Bata” Kovač was born on 1st of January 1, 1942 in Niš.

His grandfather was a conductor, his father a music professor and a violinist, his mother a singer in the opera choir, so it was somehow logical that he should follow a similar path and become a pianist. His brother Mihajlo Kovač was also involved in music in his youth, but then decided to pursue other careers. Kovač received his early music education at the College of Music in Subotica, after which he attempted to enroll in the Belgrade Music Academy. He didn’t pass the entrance exam so he entered the Sarajevo Music Academy of University of Sarajevo where he graduated from the Theory And Piano Department

In 1956, he wrote his first composition at the age of 14. In 1961, Bata founded his first band BKB, which played jazz music. From 1966 to 1968, he was a member of the Sarajevo group Indexi. When he moved to Belgrade in September 1968, Kornelije founded the band “Korni Groupa”, whose members included, among others: Zdravko Čolić (Yugoslavia Eurovision 1973), Dado Topić (Jugovizija 1984 & Jugovizija 1986), Zlatko Pejaković, Josip Boček, Dušan Prelević etc. By winning the “Opatija Festival” in 1974 with a song “Moja Generacija” the group got a chance to represent Yugoslavia at Eurovision Song Contest 1974. After receiving 6 points they ended on 12th place at the contest. You can check out their performance below. The group broke up soon after that, and Kornelije Kovač continued his composing work independently.

A lot of musicians from all across former Yugoslavia either collaborated with Kornelije Kovač’s or his band. The most famous one is certainly Zdravko Čolić, for whose solo career Kovač later wrote most of the songs such as “Ti si mi u krvi”; “April u Beogradu”; “Živiš u oblacima“; “Zvao sam je Emili“; “Mađarica“; “Ti možeš sve” and many others. For Lepa Brena Kovač composed songs JanošSanjam and the song which got her 7th place at Jugovizija 1983, Sitnije Cile, sitnije. During his career Kovač has also composed songs for: Olivera Katarina, Bisera Veletanlić, Neda Ukraden, Generacija 5, Maja Odžaklijevska, Zdenka Kovačiček and many other musicians. In 1979, he moved to England where he collaborated in many different projects, such as: the 1980 Reading Rock Festival as the keyboardist of the Jenny Darren Band. Some of the UK musicians with which Kovač cooperated include: Bernie Marsden, guitar player of “White Snake”, composer Hans Zimmer, Paul Jones, ex-singer of Manfred Mann and Andy Pask, bass player of Landscape.

In addition to that Kovač has written music for theatre, movies and television. His songs were released on numerous LP’s in Yugoslavia, Spain, France, the United States, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Norway etc. Many of them were Golden or Platinum Records. Since 1979, he has participated in many projects in Spain, as a producer, composer or arranger.

In 2011, the Serbian broadcaster, RTS has selected Kornelije Kovač and his two daughters Aleksandra and Kristina Kovač to each compose a song for the national final which was held on 26th of February. Together with Aleksandar Eraković, Damjan Dašić and Marko Ćalić, Kornelije was the one behind the song Ring Ring Ring by Breeze who ended on third place with 4049 votes while the winning song “Čaroban” performed by Nina got 14.900, and was composed by his daughter Kristina Kovač. Later on “Čaroban” ended on 14th place at Eurovision Song Contest 2011 in  Düsseldorf.


Our sincere condolences go to Kornelije’s family and friends in this difficult time. May he rest in peace.

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