Stevan St. Mokranjac is the most outstanding figure in Serbian music at the turn of the 19th and 20th cenSuries. Mokranjac was born in Negotin on January 9, 1856. Completing grammar school in Belgrade, attracted by the positivist ideas espoused by Svetozar Markovic, he enrolled at the Department of Natural Sciences and Mathematics of the High School (later Belgrade University). Having already shown an interest in music while in grammar school, he joined the Belgrade Choral Society. Seeing him as a successor to Kornelije Stankovic, this society enabled him to go to Munich and study under J.Rheinberger in 1879. In 1883 the scholarship was revoked because of some incident and he had to discon-
tinue his studies, resuming them in 1884/85 in Rome with A. Parisotti, then in 1885-87 at the Leipzig conservatory with S. Jadassohn and K. Reinecke.
At this point Mokranjac began his long and varied music career in Belgrade. By 1884 he had already distin guished himself leading the Kornelije Stankovic Choir, and from 1887 until the end of his life he was director of the Belgrade Choral Society, which developed under his guidance into a first-class ensemble. He toured with this society, giving concerts throughout Serbia, other South Slav lands and foreign countries, serving as a kind of cultural ambassador of Serbia (1893 - Dubrovnik, Cetinje; 1894 - Thessaloniki, Skoplje, Budapest; 1895 - Istanbul, Sofia, Plovdiv; 1896 - St. Petersburg, Moscow, Kiev; 1899 - Berlin, Dresden, Leipzig; 1910 - Sarajevo, Split, Cetinje; 1911 - Trieste, Rijeka, Zagreb). Occasionally he directed other choirs (the Jaksic Typo-graphers Chorus, Serbian-Jewish Chorus).
His activities were diverse. From 1887 until 1900 he taught music at the First Belgrade Grammar School and after 1901 at the Faculty of Theology. In 1.899 under the auspices of the Belgrade Choral Society he founded, together with Stanislav Binicki and Cvetko Manojiovic, the Serbian Music School in Belgrade, Serbia's first permanent music school, remaining its director and ateacher his whole life. With F. Melher, St. Sram and J.Svoboda, he started Serbia's first string quartet, which played a pioneer role from 1889 until 1893, cultivating chamber music in these pans. At the founding of the Serbian Musicians Society (1907) he was elected chairman. In 1906 he was especially honoured by being elected corresponding member of the Serbian Royal Academy (today the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts). In 1912 ill health obliged him gradually to abandon his duties as director of the Belgrade Choral Society. He died during the night of September 29 and 30,1914 in Skoplje where he had taken refuge with his family at the outbreak of the First World War.