Ivo Robić – “Croatian Sinatra”

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He was the pioneer of popular Yugoslav music in the early 1950s, modeled after great international singers such as Frank Sinatra, which is why he was called “our Sinatra” and the first to make a great international career. Ivo Robić was a very versatile musician, playing piano, saxophone, clarinet, flute, and double bass.

Robić was also called Mister Morgen because his album, Morgen, sold over a million copies and made him an international star.

It is still the biggest commercial success that a Croatian musician has achieved.

 Ivo Robić was born in 1923 in the town of Garešnica in the northwest of Croatia. Father Stjepan loved music and led the tamburitza orchestra, so Robić fell in love with music from a young age and sang in the choir and played the violin. Already in high school with friends, he founded the school Dixieland band and they instantly started performing.

 

 

 

 

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While studying law in Zagreb, he starts singing at the Zagreb Bar Grill Room, the basement of the Gradska kavana (the most popular and biggest City Coffee shop) – It was then the largest city space, the only one in the city with more floors. The largest stage of social life and democracy, “where coffee smoke and the aroma of beverages, as well as newspapers and magazines offered, equally shared the ordinary and anonymous world, followed by prominent names from the cultural, artistic, sports, entertainment and political life of the city.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robić was one of the few artists whose domestic and foreign music career sparkled for almost half a century!

At its inception, it was the only singer from Yugoslavia whose records could be found in music stores in Europe and the rest of the world.

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Interestingly, he sang on the terrace of the Hotel Kvarner in Opatija for almost 30 years. The summer performances in Opatija brought Robić the first foreign engagement.

In 1959 he recorded the composition “Morgen” by the Swiss composer Peter Moesser, arranged and accompanied by the orchestra by Bert Kaempfert. “Morgen” launched Robić into the star of light notes of the time. The renowned singer-songwriter has left behind more than 40 songs and 30 awards, among which stand out Polydore’s Gold Plate and Luxembourg’s Bronze Lion Award. On the popularity charts of the then famous music magazines, Morgen held high positions for a very long time. Morgen also reached #13 of Billboard’s Top 40 list as well as #23 of the British top charts (New Musical Express, November 7, 1959). It was the first German-language song to hit the US top charts. Listening to these top two charts is the greatest success of Croatian musicians in the major music markets to which no one in these areas has reached after Robić!

Ivo Robić, YouTube link to Morgen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Following his success with Morgen, Robić continued his collaboration with Bert Kaempfert, who at the time had one of the leading orchestras in Germany.

Robić’s big hits were: Muli Song, Mit 17 fängt das Leben erst an Rot is der Wein and Fremde in der Nacht (Strangers in the Night). For the latter song, there is a story that it is the work of Ivo Robić himself, according to the story of his wife Marta, he sent that song to the Split Festival but did not pass the selection. He allegedly left the authorship to Bert Kaempfert, who gave the song to Frank Sinatra, who had a planetary success with it in 1966.

Mister Morgen, as he was nicknamed by his foreign nickname, marked 20th-century Croatian entertainment and culture. Ivo Robić passed away on March 9, 2000.

Bernarda Cenkovčan, author

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