Music Biennale Zagreb

Since 1961, the Music Biennale Zagreb (MBZ) has been dedicated to contemporary music and related art forms. Every year, the Festival offers its audience over 30 programs of various genres, disciplines, and musical formats in numerous venues in Zagreb. In the ever-changing world where art forms, cultural scenes, and art communities blend, and especially in the world hit by the pandemic that has made the presentation, use and creation of art content even more challenging, the MBZ strives to find solutions, platforms for discussions as well as formats and strategies for bringing contemporary music closer to the audience. In addition to many programs that deal with current topics in this year’s edition of the Festival, the Festival format has been adjusted and will be carried out during several months in four festival program blocks. Accordingly, this year’s realization of the masterclass for composers will be liked with those festival blocks and will be held entirely online.

The MBZ Masterclass for Composers was first held at the MBZ Festival in April 2019 (mentors: Nina Šenk, Achim Bornhoeft and João Pedro de Oliveira together with the workshop’s resident ensemble, the excellent Riot). The workshop was held in cooperation with the Music Academy of the University of Zagreb. 18 composers applied, 9 of which passed the selection process, came to Zagreb from 7 different countries, and actively participated in the workshop.


The aim of the workshop is to enable participants to improve their creative understanding and hone their composing skills in individual sessions with prominent composers and in open rehearsals with the ensemble, as well as to deepen their knowledge and discover new approaches to composing for harpsichord.

The 2021 Masterclass of the Music Biennale Zagreb will be held online in three different segments.

1. Masterclass with composer-mentors: Alexander Schubert, Martin Matalon, Sasha Blondeau and Raphaël Cendo.

a) One-on-one online sessions, each participant is assigned to two mentors

From the submitted applications, the composers-mentors, together with the MBZ team, will select students who will have an opportunity to intensively work one-on-one with their assigned mentors via online mentoring sessions held during the Festival. Each student will work on their compositions with two mentors. We recommend that students indicate their mentor picks in the application, although the MBZ and the mentors reserve the right to choose otherwise. Individual 90-minute lessons could be passively attended by all selected participants who can subsequently join a 30-minute joint discussion.

b) Online lectures and discussions

Each mentor will hold one 90-minute lecture along with an extra 30 minutes for discussion with the participants involved. The lectures will be available online for a wider group of interested individuals and uploaded to the channels of the MBZ and the Croatian Composers’ Society.

Lectures (online)

Alexander Schubert – 18 April 2021

Martin Matalon – 27 May 2021

Sasha Blondeau – 16 July 2021

Raphaël Cendo – 15 September 2021

Individual sessions

As arranged with the mentors in the days after the lectures.

(The final version of the materials that the participants want to use during the individual sessions must be sent 3 weeks prior to those sessions.)

2. Open rehearsals with the resident ensemble – Ensemble Quasars (led by Ivan Buffa)

The reading sessions will be performed by the Ensemble Quasars consisting of flute, clarinet, violin, viola, cello and piano, led by conductor and composer Ivan Buffa. Individual open rehearsals will last 60 minutes and can be passively attended by all interested participants who will have 15 minutes for a joint discussion after each individual session.

The Ensemble is located in Bratislava, from where they will work online with selected students on the sections of their compositions. The focus will be on the practical tryout of the written sheet music and extended instrumental techniques, as well as the analysis of the structure of the piece and notation.

The sections of compositions for this part of the workshop must not exceed 5 minutes in duration and must be written for an ensemble of one to a maximum of six mentioned instruments (in a free combination per participant’s choice). The composers may apply either with the sections of existing compositions or an unfinished piece and draft scores. The notes must be clearly legible and submitted in the form of scores and sections.

Reading sessions

Ensemble Quasars – 22 and 23 April 2021, a full-day program (the exact schedule will be provided after the selection of participants; instrumental parts must be submitted no later than 2 weeks prior to the start of the session)

3. Harpsichord workshop with Croatian harpsichordist Franjo Bilić

The lecture and presentation of the instrument through examples of selected contemporary music compositions for harpsichord, as well as a tryout of the possibilities of extended techniques for harpsichord.

When applying, the selected students are encouraged to submit a draft score of their composition for harpsichord or an existing finished piece that will be included in this workshop.

Harpsichord workshop

28 May (a full-day program)

Participation fee

90.00 EUR – for students from Croatia and the region

190.00 EUR – for all other candidates

Participants are provided with the Festival pass and are welcome to all other MBZ programs that will be held live or online.


Deadline 5 March 2021



March 5


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