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Milenko Stefanović (born February 19, 1930 in Belgrade, Serbia, then the Kingdom of Yugoslavia) is the most famous Serbian classical and jazz clarinet player – soloist, former Principal Clarinetist of the Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra and Professor at the Josip Slavenski School of Music, University of Pristina and University of the Arts in Belgrade.
Stefanovic began his music study at the age of five. He graduated and completed his postgraduate studies from the Belgrade Conservatory. His major teacher was Professor Bruno Brun, the founder of modern Serbian school of clarinet playing. Additionally, he studied chamber music and orchestral playing in Salzburg, Austria, in the class of Igor Markevich, Erich Leinsdorf and Fernand Oubradous.
Stefanovic was a top-prize winner or finalist in the major Yugoslavian and international competitions, including the competitions in Sarajevo (1952), Skopje (1954), Ljubljana (1956), Moscow (1957), Munich (1957), Geneva (1957) and Prague (1959). Additionally, he was honored with the Award of the Yugoslavian Radio-Television (Ohrid, 1972), awards of the City of Belgrade for the best concert in the previous concert season (1976, 1981, 1986), as well as with 7th July Award (1962), the state’s highest award for the arts. In 2007, upon recommendation of the Expert Committee of the Ministry of Culture, he was awarded Special Acknowledgement for the Highest Contribution to the National Culture of the Republic of Serbia. In 2010 the Association of Musical Artists of Serbia awarded him with The Lifetime Achievement Award.
During his long career, Stefanovic performed throughout Europe, Africa and North America. Stefanovic recorded for the leading radio and television stations in the country and abroad: United Kingdom, Italy, France, USSR, Germany, etc. As a soloist, member of various chamber groups and orchestras, he collaborated with distinguished Yugoslavian and international artists, including: Herbert von Karajan, Lorin Maazel, Leopold Stokowski, Kirill Kondrashin, Bernard Keeffe, Oivin Fjeldstad, Francesco Mander, Jerzy Katlewicz, Jovan Sajnovic, Uros Lajovic, Anton Kolar, Anton Nanut, Petr Vronsky, Zbigniew Chwedczuk, Oskar Danon, Dusan Skovran, Josef Daniel, Zivojin Zdravkovic, Julio Maric, Franc Klinar, Roman Skrepek, Aleksandar Pavlovic, Vanco Cavdarski, Bogo Leskovic, Djura Jaksic, Mladen Jagust, Aleksandar Lekovski, Bogdan Babic, Vojislav Simic, Eric Hope, Evgeni Korolyov, Michel Dussault, Andreja Preger, Viktor Jakovcic, Freddy Dosek, Zorica Dimitrijevic-Stosic, Mirjana Krsljanin, The Zagreb Soloists, The Belgrade Trio, The Serbian String Quartet, The Zagreb Quartet and many others.
He was one of the few artists honored to perform Copland’s Clarinet Concerto under the baton of Maestro Aaron Copland (1961).
He was a long-time principal clarinetist of the Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra (1954-1976).
Stefanovic also played jazz – as a soloist and member of the Belgrade Jazz Trio and Markicevic Quintet.
He has a number of personally dedicated clarinet works by prominent Yugoslavian composers: Dejan Despic, Aleksandar Obradovic, Petar Bergamo, Dusan Radic, Petar Ozgijan, Miodrag Ilic.
Stefanovic was the chair of the committee in numerous Yugoslavian and international competitions.
Stefanovic wrote numerous jazz compositions and some film music.
He taught at the Josip Slavenski School of Music, University of Pristina and University of the Arts in Belgrade. His former students hold teaching positions in music schools and universities and play in orchestras in Europe, Asia, Australia and North America. Stefanovic wrote several textbooks for the clarinet students.
He served as the Vice-Chancellor and member of the Board of Trustees of the University of the Arts in Belgrade.
Stefanovic is an honorary member and former president of the Association of Musical Artists of Serbia.