Bratuž Lojze (1902 - 1937)


If in Gorizia there are many commemorative plaques that remember beyond the memory of men the people and the events that involved the city and its people, few are those that unite words of different languages. All the more precious then is the message entrusted to the small plaque in front of the church of Piedimonte that remembers the musician Lojze Bratuž: "Čisti žrtvi v svetal spomin / to the innocent victim in perpetual memory". Under the image of a stylised harp, the dates of birth and death (17 February 1902 - 16 February 1937) are flanked by the name of Lojze Bratuž, to whom the small square is named. He died the day before he turned thirty-five, after almost two months of agony, killed by a mixture of petrol and car oil that a Fascist squad had forced him to drink on 27 December 1936, on leaving the church after Sunday mass.

Lojze Bratuž was very gifted in music, which he had learned by self-taught, and had been a singer and organist since the age of thirteen in the churches of Gorizia and later in Viareggio and near Campobasso, where he was displaced with his family after the route to Kobarid. When he returned to Gorizia and resumed his studies interrupted because of the war, he was an elementary school teacher in San Martino di Quisca, Salcano, Battuglia, and he taught music alongside school teaching. He also dealt with politics, although in an episodic way: it was enough, however, for him to be transferred to the surroundings of Pescara at the time of the 1924 political elections. From there, Archbishop Sedej called him back to Gorizia, first offering him the chair of music at the Minor Seminary, and then, when Bratuž was forced to leave teaching following an arrest for his activity in the Slovenian Catholic association, he was appointed inspector of the parish choirs of the diocese. He was the director of various choirs, both Slovenian and Italian; he was a friend of Seghizzi, who called him to direct the Cathedral choir. He also dedicated himself to composition: mainly religious music, but also profane, and transcription and adaptation of folk songs.

Being known and esteemed in the community and combining the universal language of music with singing in a then forbidden linguistic expression, the Slovenian one, were his "faults". In 1930 he was the victim of a first attack that forced him to three weeks in hospital. In 1932 he was arrested several times and spent nine months in prison, without any charges being brought against him. He had been married for three years, and his second son had just been born when Christmas came in 1936. At Piedimonte the religious service was held in Slovenian. The intention of the local fascists to prevent the celebration was frustrated by the presence of some police officers. The Fascists came back two days later to make up for Lojze Bratuž and four other choristers. The newspapers did not report the news of his death, the funeral was held at dawn to avoid any possible demonstration. Archbishop Margotti denounced the event, which is one of the darkest pages of Gorizia's history. It is extremely difficult to find adequate words to express the horror of an act of violence such as the one that caused Bratuž's death. Perhaps there are no words.