That faraway year 1923, my mother (Aleksandra’s grandmother) received a piano for her 10th birthday, as a gift from her father—great grandfather to my younger daughter Aleksandra, for whom I am recording these memories. I believe, other than her natural talent, it was the presence of this instrument in our home that had the most significant influence on Aleksandra becoming a professional musician.
Oh, that for a moment my story could be accompanied by the sound of that piano. Its sound has been present in our home for generations, starting with my mother, followed by me, then on to my older daughter, and then to Aleksandra. Though her life ultimately led to a dedication to the violin—that was my wish as her mother—Aleksandra would maintain her love of the piano for many years to come.
Before she began studying the violin, Aleksandra was noted for her singing voice. My mother often encouraged me to take Aleksandra to audition for our famous children’s choir, Kolibri. It is possible that Aleksandra inherited her beautiful voice from her father’s sister, Mira Maslovaric. Mira was trained as a coloratura soprano and earned early praise, but her untimely death at age 20 put a sad end to Mira’s sharing that talent with the world. I should mention that both my husband and elder daughter also showed talent for music, but they both chose to become doctors of medicine, a traditional profession in our family for generations.
After a couple of years of postponing my mother’s wish regarding the choir, I finally took a five-year-old Aleksandra to audition for Kolibri, into which she was accepted right away. For the next five years, Aleksandra was a proud member of this outstanding choir, participating in many live performances, national television broadcasts, and recordings. This was her early start in the field of musical performance.
And while my memories of the past continue to flow over me, I’ll now return to the more important details. Right from the beginning, with her first violin audition, Aleksandra impressed two judges who both expressed an eagerness to have her study with them. In the end, of course, one had to win…and here we have an enchanting story: a professor with an excellent student and a student with an excellent professor. But, as everyone knows, often there is another side to fairy tales. After instructing my daughter for only a few years, that professor accepted a position in a different city and departed. The disappointment was felt by both Aleksandra and me, since he had urged her so strongly to study with him.
We then began our search to find another professor with whom young Aleksandra could make a connection. With the help of a family friend, we contacted Beba Besevic, a well-known violin teacher from another school. Besevic’s words were simple and straightforward: “Aleksandra possesses the highest musical intelligence”.
Once my daughter entered secondary school, Aleksandra added piano as a second major instrument of study. Her affection for the piano was still strong, and she rapidly completed four years of study in two. At about the same time, a voice teacher took note of Aleksandra’s singing, encouraged her to take formal voice lessons, and in this way inspired her to once again find joy in singing. For the next two years Aleksandra again applied herself to singing, and engaged in regular public performances.
By coincidence—at least I don’t know what led her do it—Aleksandra next decided to sing at a major audition held at the Kolarac Concert Hall in Belgrade. After the national judges’ approval of her performance, audition tapes were sent to Stockholm, where the World Youth Choir was established. She was accepted into the choir, and joined other talented and enthusiastic singers from around the world. She even returned to join the choir for a second successful year—a gratifying conclusion to her formal singing experience.
Yet another of Aleksandra’s early interests was the ballet, which I believe she has never forsaken. We as parents made the decision for her not to pursue this interest, believing that unless one became a prima ballerina, the chances for success would be minimal. However, Aleksandra’s interest in dance has not been abandoned; one of her first stops whenever she visits Belgrade is the ballet shop at our National Theater. A few pirouettes in a new pair of ballet slippers seem always to bring a smile to her face.†
After much hope and hard work, Aleksandra arrived at the Academy of Music in Podgorica (in Montenegro), where for two years she studied with Vardkes Boyadjian, an extraordinary violinist from Armenia who was interested in teaching only her. When Vardkes left Podgorica, Aleksandra transferred to the Belgrade Conservatory of Music and studied with Maja Jokanovic, a nationally known professor and soloist. While at the Conservatory, Aleksandra also began showing an interest in conducting. Although conductor Darinka Matic Marovic warned us that studying both violin and conducting simultaneously would be a great challenge, she none the less expressed interest in Aleksandra joining her class. As a mother I intervened again, asking my daughter not to add conducting to her already busy schedule.
When Aleksandra received her Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance from the Belgrade Conservatory of Music, she left for the United States. She received a scholarship at the New World School of the Arts in Miami, Florida and worked with Felicia Moye of the Miami String Quartet. Then her path led her to Los Angeles, California, where she studied with Michael Tseitlin and Alex Treger. Aleksandra was awarded the degree of Master of Music, Violin Performance from UCLA. She has since made Los Angeles her permanent home, and the base for her performing and recording career.
This is where my narrative ends and Aleksandra’s begins…
† Footnote by Aleksandra: A few slippers aside, I have indeed forsaken my affair with ballet but, thankfully, I still very much enjoy dancing! In fact, don’t be surprised to find me dancing tango at some local milonga, either in Los Angeles, or wherever I might find myself on tour.