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A musical class apart

"THE WORD ninera is probably derived from el niµEo, which means child in Spanish. It seems to suggest that even a child can play this instrument. Well, try it," a musician from Musa Antiqua turned to a packed audience at Bratislava's Centre of Folk-Art Pduction (ÚĽUV) on February 15, daring them to have a go on the complex looking hurdy-gurdy.

KOBLIČEK taught himself to make ninera in 1985.
photo: Courtesy of ÚĽUV

"THE WORD ninera is probably derived from el niµEo, which means child in Spanish. It seems to suggest that even a child can play this instrument. Well, try it," a musician from Musa Antiqua turned to a packed audience at Bratislava's Centre of Folk-Art Pduction (ÚĽUV) on February 15, daring them to have a go on the complex looking hurdy-gurdy.

The crowd was gathered for an exhibition opening of folk instruments by the Slovak "craftsman par excellence", Tibor Kobliček.

A baroque chamber music ensemble demonstrated the sound of a few of the 120 instruments on display, which range from pipes, bagpipes and fujaras to violins, zithers and nineras.

"Kobliček is the most versatile maker of folk instruments in Slovakia," said curator Martin Mešša.

The 68-year-old Kobliček did not make his first instrument until he turned 30. He has now made countless numbers of them of more than 20 different types. The prolific craftsman can also play all of them. And he sings, with a mighty voice.

Reaching into traditions and then transforming them, Kobliček is a name among musicians both here and abroad. His instruments have a high quality sound and are decorated in a unique style. They can be found in museums, theatres, film studios, and private collections.

Kobliček combines artistic talent with the technical precision of a former lathe operator. His technical side provides the perfect sound and his aesthetic touch adds the decoration. He marks all his instruments by engraving his name into them. The ever-alert eyes of the guardians of traditions rest whenever they see his work and his developments are welcomed, not scorned.

Kobliček's son Ladislav is following in his father's footsteps. His instruments can also be seen at the exhibition, which runs until April 2.

ÚĽUV is located at Obchodná 64. It is open Tuesday to Friday from 12:00 to 18:00, and Saturday from 10:00 to 14:00. Tel: 02/5273-1343.

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