Ivan Zajc was a Croatian composer, conductor and pedagogue. His influence on Croatian music was of such importance that the period of Croatian music from 1870 to 1916 was named after him. He was born in 1832 in Rijeka into a musical family. He has shown a penchant for music since he was five, when he began to actively study piano and violin. He finished school in Rijeka and later went to study composition at the Milan Conservatory. During his studies he has already performed several works, the most famous of which is the opera La Tirolese. After graduating, he decided to return to his hometown, where he began educating young musicians as a teacher at the Music School. In addition to teaching, in that period he also played and conducted both chamber and orchestral and opera works such as his opera The Bride of Messina (unperformed). Wanting to expand his compositional horizons, in 1862 he moved with his family to Vienna. He spent seven years there, during which he composed, performed and partially published about eighty compositions, most of which were chamber works and comic operas and operettas. Although he successfully built his way to world fame as a composer of operettas and musical comedies in Vienna, he decided to return to his native country. He returned to Zagreb, where he became the director of the Opera and took the lead at the school of the Croatian Music Institute. In Zagreb he was also extremely dedicated to composing and wrote almost a thousand opuses, including some of his most famous works: operas “Mislav”, “Nikola Šubić Zrinski”, “Kraljev hir”, “Primorka” as well as many other operettas and chamber works. The historical-national trilogy, including his most famous work, the opera “Nikola Šubić Zrinski”, had a significant impact on the Croatian national movement. He died in 1914 in Zagreb, and before his death he experienced the awakening of new young forces on the Croatian music scene.
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