About the museum

The Heritage Museum was opened in 1961 and is located in the old Bigatto palace, completed in 1639, in the heart of Buzet’s old town. Inside it are preserved valuable archaeological, ethnological, cultural-historical, artistic and other materials important to Buzet and Buzeština (the micro region around Buzet). Open to visitors are an archaeological collection with a lapidarium, an ethnological collection in which various agricultural tools, an old Buzet kitchen, folk costumes of Ćićarija and Buzeština and a loom, the legacy of Slavomir Cerovac – Miro Blažinčić, an exhibition about the anti-fascist battle of Buzeština and about the Glagolitic script are exhibited, plus a gallery space where art and other occasional exhibitions are held. In various parts of the old town also open are the old town’s smithy, a bakery, a workshop where combs were made from horns, plus a collection of firearms and side arms from the legacy of Slavomir Cerovac.

Source: PUO Buzet


Music collection of the Heritage Museum in Buzet

Saša Nikolić, Heritage Museum Buzet

Source: Ivetić, Marija (2012). A njihova glazba u vremenu traje...Iz glazbenih zbirki Muzeja grada Pazina i Zavičajnog muzeja Buzet. (Their music lasts in time… From the music collection of the Pazin Town Museum and Heritage Museum Buzet). Pazin Town Museum, Pazin-Buzet.

The music collection of Buzet’s Heritage Museum is not vast. It consists of musical instruments, sheet music, equipment for the recording and reproduction of sound, sound carriers and other museum artefacts which are related to the music and musical history of Buzeština, and which are regularly gathered and originate from this region.

In a wider sense the term Buzeština refers to the northern part of continental Istria and today it includes the area of the town of Buzet plus the municipality of Lanišće and a small part of the municipality of Oprtalj. Unlike other regions of Istria, where two-part soloist singing “u dva” (“in two”) resounds, in other words, “na tanko i debelo” (“high and low”) and a two-part duo on “sopela” pipes (or roženica), in Buzeština three different stylistic expressions meet: the mentioned sung and played two-part, choral “wailing” and dance music which is performed by ensembles of “gunjac” players (plural “gunjci or “gunci”).[1]

At the beginning of the last century, when ethnomuseologists began to study the folk music of Istria more intensively, they were interested almost exclusively in the type of music which in expert terminology came under the title of Istrian; and which we still call “na tanko i debelo” or “u dva” singing. The number and correlation of tones on the “sopela” corresponds completely to that musical expression.[2]

On Ćićarija there is also a musical expression which differs to this one, and which is most often referred to as wailing, although the people of Ćićarija do not use this term.[3] According to Slavko Zlatić, wailing “essentially means the sung mourning of someone, the beyond ritual lamenting for someone”. It sounds two-part, and is performed collectively.

The third is a stylistic expression of dance music which the gunjac ensembles perform, and as it features in Istria it also features in Buzeština, it appeared together with the Austrian administration over Istria at the beginning of the 19th century.[4] The basic instruments are the gunjac “bajs” (a small double bass) and “vijulin” (violin) and joining them later were the “klarin” (clarinet) and the diatonic accordion of Trieste. They primarily perform their polkas, waltzes, mazurkas and marches at weddings, country fairs and dances.

Furthermore, upon the initiative of nationalists Ivan Sancin, Janko Gregorec, Kazimir Rade and Vinko Šepić, the Sokol Music Society was founded in Buzet in 1905 and it is still operating to this day. Hundreds of members in all activities – orchestras, choirs, klapa groups, instrumental and gunjac ensembles have passed through the society during 50 years of its continuous work. The 1980s were also marked by the activities of a folklore group.

In 1991 the society decided to change its name to Istarski željezničar (The Istrian Railwayman) after one assembly. At the ceremonial meeting at the end of 2010, which marked the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Roč Brass Band, the society was renamed the Renato Pernić Railwayman’s Cultural-Artistic Society. With this act homage was shown to the first head, the founder and conceptual leader of the Roč Brass Band.

At the time of the founding of the Sokol Music Society it was rare that any house in Buzet had equipment for reproducing sound. Victor-Victrola phonographs were made in America between 1901 and 1929, and as such our example of a Victrola phonograph with its internal trumpet can be dated to the period from 1906 to 1925, when these devices were produced.[5] The other phonograph example is a so-called His Master’s Voice (or HMV) which was made in England by The Gramophone Company who licenced the logo of a dog and phonograph for use in Europe. This company was not directly linked to the Victor Talking Machine Company, although they did share some common products. With these devices there also came a whole collection of gramophone records with a vast array of different types of music on them, a kind of overview of the popular music which was listened to at that time, and the equipment for playing them was mainly bought in Trieste.

Also in the collection are two tape recorders made by Geloso from Milan. The Geloso 255s was made between 1955 and 1958, whilst the Geloso 268 was made between 1961 and 1962. The main difference between them was that the latter model had three speeds for recording/reproduction.

The traditional Istrian instruments in the collection of the Buzet Heritage Museum are “mih” (bag) with “mišnic” (pipes), “bajs” (small double bass), “cindra” (tamburica cindra) and “sopela” (whistle pipe). The “mih” is an instrument consisting of bellows of lamb or young goat’s skin onto which other wooden parts are attached. It is primarily intended to accompany a dance, but songs can also be sung alongside it. The “bajs” is a stringed, folk instrument which is played with a bow, somewhat larger than a cello, but smaller than a double bass. The “bajs” has two strings made from cow’s gut, tuned in fifths. Our example, according to the notes in the museum’s inventory book, was made by Andrea Petohleb in the village of Podrebar near Buzet in 1883.

The “cindra” is characteristic of the musical heritage of Ćićarija, and is an instrument similar to the lute, about 70 cm long, or a monotone adjusted tamburica with two strings which are usually made by the player. It is used for solo playing or as accompaniment to dances, popular polkas, waltzes and Styrian mazurkas.

There is no information about where the “sopela” originates, who made it or where it was used, so all we can say here is how the instrument was made with the characteristics of Istria, the Croatian Littoral and the islands.

From the musical instruments, in our collection there are three clarinets and a trumpet which were played by former members of the Sokol Musical Society of Buzet. From the legacy of this society we also have the sheet music which they played, the cap of one of the members and the Sokol baton used by the conductor. In addition, there are also the regulations of the Sokol Music Society of Buzet from 1905. Also from the same year are the minutes of the 2nd committee meeting of the Sokol Music Society and a statement about the voluntary contributions for the purchase of instruments. For instruments the musicians travelled to the Czech Republic, to Kraslice, and it is there that they apparently bought their first set of instruments.

The music collection of the Heritage Buzet Museum, as we have already mentioned is neither large or exhaustive. With what it holds it bears witness to the many so far mentioned events, also preserving the heritage of the musical past of Buzeština. Just recently in the legacy of Slavomir Cerovac, which was bought last year by the Town of Buzet for our museum, we came across two tape recorders and ten or so tapes on which are recorded folk musicians and singers, amongst others were also “gunjci” in Kotli, wailing in Lanišće from 1964, plus many others which need to be rediscovered when the digitalisation of these tapes is finished.



[1] Slavko ZLATIĆ, introductory text on the LP album Narodne pjesme i plesovi Buzeštine (Folk songs and dances of Buzeština). Jugoton, Zagreb.

[2] Renato PERNIĆ, Meštri, svirci i kantaduri (Masters, musicians and singers). Reprezent, Buzet, 1997, p. 40.

[3] For the verb “to sing” in various parts of Ćićarija there exist varying words: “kantat”, “kantet” or “kentet”.

[4] Vladimir PERNIĆ. Istarki gunjci (Istrian gunjci), Reprezent, Račice, 2005, p. 15.