The Zagreb Festival
The Zagreb Festival is the oldest festival of popular music in this part of Europe, and has been held continuously since 1953. The festival is organized by the Croatian Composers’ Society and produced by Unison. It has served as a role model and initiator of various other festivals, such as the ones held in Opatija, Belgrade, Ljubljana, Sarajevo and Split. In the past sixty years, it has become a must-see event on the Croatian and former-Yugoslav popular music scene. It played a role in the affirmation of popular and dance music as a cultural phenomenon and has played a part in forming the regional and national musical expression. The Festival popularized thousands of compositions that have become the corpus of traditional popular music of the region over the past several decades, and all major performers have performed regularly at this Festival. In the 21st century, the festival still has a loyal audience, as well as artists who wish to continue developing the valuable legacy of traditional popular music. Year after year, the Festival continues to be a must-see event for music lovers. From the very beginning, the Zagreb Festival was conceived as a festival for composers, that is, their works, and not for performers, that is, singers. It was for this reason that only two performers (Ivo Robić and Rajka Vali) sang at the first festival, and performed eight songs. Although this concept of festival singers was abandoned later on, the Festival has always put emphasis on the presentation of songwriters and evaluation of their songs, and not the singers themselves.
Since 2014, the Festival has been held at the beginning of the year and is produced in cooperation with radio and TV stations that broadcast songs in power-play mode in the weeks leading up to the Festival. Such cooperation has proved to be crucial in getting the songs on the air, a fact appreciated by both songwriters and performers. In this way, the Festival has adapted to the contemporary media environment, and after several decades rediscovered the function that for many years had been its primary one.
The winner of the 65th Zagreb Festival was Vanna with the song "Najbolji ljudi", which was both written and performed by Vanna herself.
The winner of the 66th Zagreb Festival was Damir Kedžo with the song "Srce mi umire za njom" written by Ante Pecotić. Mia Dimšić came in 2nd with the song "Ovaj grad" (written by Mia Dimšić, Vjekoslav Dimter and Damir Bačić), followed by Marko Tolja with the song “Sve što nisam ja”, which he both wrote and performed.
The winner of the 67th edition of the Zagreb Festival was Marko Kutlić with the song "Samo nek' ona sretna je" for which Kutlić shares songwriting credits with co-writer Aleksandar Čubrilo. The duet between Marin Jurić-Čivro and Nina Kraljić, "Zima", came in 2nd, while the 3rd place was occupied by the song "Vrati mi se ti" by songwriter Ante Pecotić, performed by Nikola Marjanović.