The most eminent Slovenes are depicted on Slovenias banknotes. The Protestant reformer and writer Primoz Trubar appears on the ten-tolar banknote, polymath Janez Vajkard Valvasor on the twenty-tolar note, mathematician Jurij Vega on the fifty-tolar note, painter Rihard Jakopic on the hundred-tolar note, composer Jacobus Gallus on the 200-tolar note, architect Joze Plecnik on the 500-tolar note, poet France Preseren on the 1000-tolar note, painter Ivana Kobilca on the 5000-tolar note, and author Ivan Cankar on the 10,000-tolar note.
Primoz Trubar (1508-1586) was the leader of the Protestant movement in Slovenia and the founder of Slovene theology. As cathedral vicar and canon, predicant, and superintendent of the Slovene Protestant church, he established a boarding school and the first public library in Ljubljana. Writing the first book in the Slovene language in 1550, he established the foundation for Slovene literature and the written language. In 1909, a statue of Trubar by France Berneker was erected beside a path in Ljubljanas Tivoli Park. On the 400th anniversary of his death in 1986, his birthplace in Rasica (25 km from Ljubljana) was renovated as a cultural monument and has since become a popular tourist attraction. Another monument honouring him as the founder of the Biblical Institute was erected in Bad Urach, and several monuments have been erected in Tübingen where he died. Almost every larger town in Slovenia has a street named after him.
Janez Vajkard Valvasor (1641-1693), nobleman and polymath, harbinger of the Slovene Enlightenment. Valvasor studied the natural sciences at various European universities and gained his knowledge of military skills and tactics as an officer in the wars with the Turks. His treatise on the karst phenomenon of the periodic Cerknica Lake aroused so much attention that he was made a member of the Royal Society in London. Concerned that foreigners did not know his region well enough, he undertook the presentation of Carniola in words and pictures, installing a copperplate workshop at his Bogensperk Castle near Litija and publishing collections of his work. His most important work was the Glory of the Duchy of Carniola (1689: 15 volumes, 528 illustrations), a genuine encyclopedia of natural science, Slovene customs and folklore, history, and topography that covered a large part of present-day Slovenia. His statue stands in Valvasor Square in front of the Natural History Museum in Ljubljana.
Jurij Vega (1754-1802) is the foremost Slovene mathematician and author of several textbooks on higher mathematics. In Ljubljana, he was involved in the regulation of the Sava and Ljubljanica rivers. At the school for artillery officers, he became interested in geodesy, ballistics, and ballooning along with mathematics and physics. He was an ardent soldier who fought the Turks, the Prussians, and in the coalition army against the French along the Rhine River; for his service, he was decorated and given the title of baron. An expert on logarithms, he published the Small Book of Logarithms (1793), the Large Book of Logarithms (1794), and Logarithm Tables for General Use (1797) and wrote treatises on the metric and kilogram systems. Young mathematicians in Slovenia compete each year for the Vega Badge award. A memorial room has been arranged at Vegas birthplace in Zagorica near Dolsko (20 km from Ljubljana).
Rihard Jakopic (1869-1943), Slovenias leading Impressionist painter and theoretician, studied at the Vienna Academy, the Azbe Art School in Munich, and the Hynais Art Academy in Prague. In Ljubljana, he established the Slovene School of Impressionist Drawing and Painting, the predecessor of the Academy of Art, and built a pavilion in Tivoli Park that became the central venue for art exhibitions in Slovenia. More than 1,200 paintings and 650 drawings by Jakopic have been preserved. He was among the first members of the Slovene Academy of Sciences and Arts founded in 1938. Due to the relocation of the railway, the Jakopic Pavilion was demolished in 1962. In 1968, a statue of Rihard Jakopic by Janez Boljka was erected on the original site of the pavilion, and the new Jakopic Gallery opened on Slovenska cesta. Since 1969, the Jakopic Award has been presented annually for the foremost artistic achievements in Slovenia.
Jacobus Gallus (1550-1591), a leading composer of the 16th century, was educated in various monasteries in Central Europe and began his music career in Vienna. Later, he worked mainly in Olomouc and Prague, where he was chapelmaster at the Church of St. Jan. He was a recognized and very respected composer in his time. His opus includes sixteen Masses in four volumes, and he set liturgical and biblical texts to music in 374 motets; with his collection Opus musicum, he ranks among the most important European composers of motets. On the basis of Latin texts, he set fifty-three secular choruses to music in three book collections. While not strictly madrigals, they strongly resemble them in expressiveness and form. The largest hall in the Cankarjev dom Cultural and Congress Center in Ljubljana is named after Gallus.
Joze Plecnik (1872-1957), Slovenias greatest architect, also achieved a prominent place in world architecture. He received his education at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts, lectured at the Prague school of arts and crafts, and, following the foundation of the University of Ljubljana, lectured at the Technical Faculty. In 1921, Czechoslovakias president Tomas Masaryk appointed him architect of Prague Castle. He influenced the development of Ljubljana to such an extent that we often speak of Plecniks Ljubljana (the embankments of the Ljubljanica River, several bridges, the public marketplace, the Franciscan church in Siska, the Æale cemetery, the central stadium in Bezigrad, the National and University Library). He also designed churches and other buildings throughout Slovenia and Yugoslavia as well as furniture, lamps, and liturgical objects. The Plecnik Award is presented for the greatest achievements in the field of architecture.
France Preseren (1800-1848) is Slovenias greatest poet. For more than 150 years, Preseren has been considered the peak of Slovene culture and a national hero who advanced the modern Slovene language and expressed the Slovenes desire for national and political independence. His poem A Toast, set to music as Slovenias national anthem, presents a vision of equality and friendly coexistence among nations. The date of Preserens death, February 8th, is a national holiday. The Preseren Prize is Slovenias highest award for artistic achievement in various fields. A museum has been arranged in Preserens birthplace in Vrba near Bled, there is a Preseren Grove in the Kranj cemetery, and the Preseren Historical Museum is located in the center of Kranj. In 1906, the Preseren Monument was unveiled in the center of Ljubljana. Presernova druzba, a publishing house and book society, has been publishing fiction and popular science works since 1953.
Ivana Kobilca (1861-1926) is Slovenias most important woman painter and represents the generation of Slovene realists. She studied in Munich with Alois Erdtelt, and while painting in all the European art centers she remained faithful to the Munich modernists. She worked the longest in Sarajevo where she painted genres with folk motifs, and she contributed illustrations to a basic book on Austria-Hungary (1898). Her portraits of her close relatives are famous as are The Zither Player, The Coffee Drinker, Grandmothers Chest, and the allegory Slovenia Bows to Ljubljana done for the Ljubljana City Hall. Paintings by Ivana Kobilca are exhibited in all the major galleries in Europe.
Anton Martin Slomsek
Ivan Cankar (1876-1918) is the greatest Slovene short story writer and dramatist, a universal representative of Slovene Modernism. Cankar was one of the most important European authors at the turn of the century and commented strongly on social, national, and moral issues. Although he followed the most modern European literary trends, his work is genuinely original. Cankar influenced thinking on the Slovene national question, linking the national emancipation of the Slovenes to a union with the South Slav nations. His novel Hlapec Jernej in njegova pravica (Farmhand Jernej and His Justice) has been translated into all the world languages. There is a Cankar Museum at Cankars birthplace in Vrhnika (20 km from Ljubljana), and the Cankarjev dom Cultural and Congress Center opened in Ljubljana in 1981. Cankars complete works have been published in ten and six volume sets by Cankarjeva zalozba in Ljubljana.
Anton Martin Slomsek (1800-1862) is the bishop who transferred the seat of the Lavantine Diocese from St. Andrä to Maribor. In so doing, he realized one of his life goals, to unite all the Styrian Slovenes in their own diocese and thus establish a defense against Germanization. Bishop Slomseks efforts contributed greatly to the strengthening of national awareness. He wrote many religious and educational books. In 1859, he opened a theological seminary in Maribor, the first higher school where clergymen were taught in Slovene. In 1926, the procedure for Slomseks beatification began, and in 1996 Pope John Paul II proclaimed him a Venerable Servant of God. The Slomsek Center has been active since 1874 in Klagenfurt (Austria) as a social center for Carinthian Slovenes.
Rudolf Maister (1874-1934) was educated at various officer training schools in Austria-Hungary. As a major at the end of World War I, he was the commander of the regional headquarters and assumed command of Maribor and the Slovene part of Carinthia on November 1, 1918. With a rapid mobilization, he established a Slovene army of four thousand soldiers, disarmed the German Schutzwehr security service, and disbanded the army of the German city council. He then occupied Slovene ethnic territory, establishing the northern border between Austria and Yugoslavia that was later ratified by the Saint Germain peace treaty. A statue of Maister stands in his native Kamnik, and newer one was erected in Maribor in 1987.
Leon Stukelj (1898-1999) is Olympic gold medal winner. At the 1922 World Championships in athletics in Ljubljana, he came second in the mens events. He won the single bar and gymnastics events at the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris, and at the 1928 Olympic games in Amsterdam he won a gold medal on the rings, a bronze medal for the 3rd place of the Yugoslav team, and the bronze medal in gymnastics. He was a member of the Yugoslav team at the 1926 World Championships in Lyon (2nd place) and at the 1930 World Championships in Luxembourg (3rd place). In the company of the worlds best athletes Leon Stukelj was an honoured guest at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.
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