Bijelo Dugme (The White Button), widely acknowledged as the most popular rock band ever to come out of the former Yugoslavia. In the late eighties Bregovic gained even wider acclaim after he began composing soundtracks for numerous movies, including three for the preeminent Serbian filmmaker, Emir Kusturica.
But it was only after he exiled himself to Paris in the mid-nineties, to escape the horrors of the Serb-Croat fighting, that he began traveling widely, bringing his music to audiences from Australia to Israel, from Singapore to Buenos Aires. He first appeared in America in 2006 in a handful of high-profile concerts in New York and Chicago, and the first CD of his to be released in the United States came out in 2009. It's no small feather in UMS's cap that his current North American tour, consisting of only about a dozen dates, includes a stop at Hill Auditorium on Saturday, October 15.
Bregovic's constantly evolving post-rock-band music is practically uncategorizable. It would be easier to say what it isn't than what it is. He grew up on Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, but has grown way out of their confining genres. In addition to over thirty film scores, he has composed operas, theater pieces, and multimedia extravaganzas employing hundreds of musicians. His music mixes the raw, earthy traditional folk and gypsy music of his region with European classical music, klezmer, and Muslim, Orthodox Christian, and Catholic chants. Bregovic and his musicians sing in half a dozen languages, including Roma, Spanish, and Serbian--with even one song in English. But as he says, "I rely on that first language, music, to make a bond with my audiences."