Mladen Tarbuk, one of the most versatile composers and conductors of his generation, developed his music career in many directions. He is conducting regularly on both the concert and opera podium, writing compositions in large scale ranging from solo works to works for orchestra or musical stage, revising and editing important compositions from Croatia’s past and contributing articles on interesting aesthetical and philological topics. He is also a full-time professor at the Zagreb Music Academy, where he instructs important subjects like composition, conducting and symphonic orchestra.
In 2013-14 he held the position of music director, and 2014-2017 of general artistic director at Dubrovnik Summer Festival. During this period, he raised the income of the festival by 25%, as well as the interest of the public and media by introducing inventive programs, inviting both young and famous artists, doing open air drama and music performances in the middle of the ancient town sometimes against the will of shopkeepers...
As a prominent member of Zagreb University, he introduced its large stage productions to the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb and Concert Hall Lisinski. These projects were realized in collaboration with all artistic components of the University, including Music, Drama, Fine Arts and the Textile Design Academy.
In the past eight years, he conducted nearly all of the premieres, such as The Magic Flute, Orfeo ed Euridice, Carmen Janacek’s Liška Bistrouška and Stravinsky’s Nightingale with resounding success.
He achieved the high point of his career by conducting concerts at the Musikverein Vienna with Wien Concert-Verein Orchester, in the course of their concert series. In those concerts, he conducted the works of Mozart and Haydn, and his own work, Sebastian im Traum.
Between 2004 and 2009, after the great success with Verdi’s Macbeth he worked regularly at the German Opera at Rhine in Duesseldorf as guest conductor, conducting there a large repertoire including The Abduction from the Seraglio, Il Trittico and La Wally.
In addition, he conducted many prestigious symphony orchestras and opera companies, such as Nordic Chamber Orchestra, Haifa Symphony Orchestra, Slovenian Philharmonic, Orchestra Sinfonica Siciliana, Hungarian Radio and Television Orchestra, MAV Symphonic Orchestra, State Opera Hannover and Koblenz, Kodaly Philharmonic Orchestra Debrecen, the Symphony Orchestra of the State Mexico, Opera Lyra Ottawa, Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra, Ukrainian National Symphony Orchestra, Prague State Opera, at the National Music Festival in Chesterton, just to name few.
In 2005 he drew special attention of the European press with the premiere of Tristan and Isolde at the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb. This success was the final event of his tenure as the general director (2002-2005) of Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb. During this period, he greatly intensified the activity of the theatre and introduced it to the most prestigious European theatre associations (Opera Europe, Central and Eastern Opera).
As a principal conductor of Symphonic Orchestra of Croatian Radio and Television (2000-2011) he recorded dozens of hours of Croatian contemporary and classical music, and conducted, both on guest tours or in their regular concert series, a concert repertoire from baroque to the greatest symphonic works of Stravinsky or Mahler.
Finally, he has written about 80 compositions, ranging from chamber music to large symphonic forms, or pieces for music theatre. On the occasion of his 50th birthday, the Croatian Composers Society organized his authorial concert with two world premieres of his works featured on the program.
in 2016-17, he was invited by the Croatian National Television and Radio to write, as their composer in residence, two choir compositions and one large scale symphonic work. One of these works, Sinfonia, was premiered 2017 with great success at Music Biennale Zagreb.
His ballet A Streetcar Named Desire, based on the same titled drama of Tennessee Williams, has opened the ISCM World Music Days 2005 in Zagreb. The Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Wind Band, based on the music from this ballet, drew special attention at the World Saxophone Congress in Glasgow in 2012. Many of his compositions have been performed at prestigious contemporary music festivals, such as The Enescu Festival Bucharest, Temps du Soufle, Ve Convention de la Flute, Musicora Paris, Euromusicale München, Trieste Prima, Moscow Autumn, Music Biennale Zagreb and others.
As student he had already attracted the attention of international audiences with the first performances of his Martyre d’un jongleur for one multiperformer at the Gaudeamus Festival Amsterdam and of his Medida del tiempo por relojes differentes for high soprano, marimba and strings at Wien Modern, under baton of Dr. Friedrich Cerha.
He has been honored with several prizes for his conducting and compositions. He received the Austrian Prize Dr. E. Vogel, Basque’s Prize Tolosa 93, Czech’s Prize Janacek in Olomouc 1992, as well as the Croatian prizes Šulek, Slavenski (four times), Trnina and Papandopulo (two times).
His future engagements include concerts with the Sinfonietta Cracovia, the Nordic Chamber Orchestra, and the Symphonic Orchestra of Croatian Radio and Television.