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The Trbovlje Nightingale: A Forgotten Story of Triumph Against Odds

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BNN Correspondents
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The Trbovlje Nightingale: A Forgotten Story of Triumph Against Odds

The Trbovlje Nightingale, a choir composed of the children of miners from the 1930s, is the subject of Benjamin Kreže's documentary film 'Lačni, Bosi, in Slavni.' The choir, which had no formal musical education, achieved international renown under the leadership of Avgust Šuligoj, a teacher from Primorska. At the 1936 International Music Congress in Prague, they were even named the world's best choir, surpassing the famed Vienna Boys' Choir.

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The Unlikely Success of the Trbovlje Nightingale

The Trbovlje Nightingale's repertoire was not for the faint-hearted. They performed complex compositions, including atonal and bitonal works, often considered impossible to perform by experts. Yet, despite their lack of formal training, the choir excelled, performing in some of Europe's most prestigious concert halls. From 1930 to 1941, they held 255 concerts and traveled 20,000 kilometers by train.

Art Emerging from Difficult Circumstances

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The documentary emphasizes the extraordinary nature of the choir's success. It's a testament to how exceptional art can emerge from the most challenging circumstances. For the children of the choir, their involvement provided dignity and a sense of belonging in times of hardship. Yet, their journey was not without opposition. Authorities often opposed the choir's activities, adding another layer of complexity to their story.

A Story Fading into Obscurity

Despite their achievements, the story of the Trbovlje Nightingale has gradually faded into obscurity over time. Some have even shown a lack of interest in preserving its memory. This documentary, however, serves to resurface their story. Supported by the Slovenian Film Archive, it features historical footage from the period, offering a significant source for further research. The production, a collaboration between Solsticij, RTV Slovenia, and Staragare, was funded by the Slovenian Film Center (SFC). The documentary premiered on Television Slovenia 1 and is available for viewing on the RTV 365 portal.

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