Tonin Zadeja and his personal archive

The musicologist, Elena Skënderi, has conducted detailed researches upon the well known musician, Tonin Zadeja, who has a special merit for collecting numerous documentary materials from the life, music and artistic activity of the city of Shkodra. All his life work is summed up, among other things, in what is nowadays called Tonin Zadeja’s personal archive.

Opusalb has requested the musicologist to share with us this study which not has informational background and value but educational as well regarding the report with historical documentation. This study will be published in a series of publications under its main chapters.

1.       Some brief notes upon the life and activities of Tonin Zadeja (1929-2011)[1]   Tonin Zadeja was born on May 11, 1929 in the city of Shkodra, where he also received the basic musical knowledge. At a young age he began to take theory and solfege lessons from father Martin Gjoka, knowledge which he further enriched during the years of study at the Illyricium Lyceum of the Franciscan Fathers, in the period 1937-1945.   Tonin Zadeja entered the Lyceum of the Franciscan Fathers with the intention of becoming a priest, but with the change of the regime and the closure of the school, he was forced to withdraw from this path. During the years he studied at Illirucium he lived a quite isolated life, living inside the school dorm, even though his family lived in Shkodra. However, this connection with Franciscan environments would be very important in shaping his personality, acting as a plus to his great honesty, dedication, modesty, and unshakeable love to devote himself to the research of the artistic and musical traditions of his native city.   Until 1965, when he began his studies at the State Conservatory of Tirana, he worked as a music teacher in the district of Shkodra, actively participating in the music activities of the city. In 1969 Zadeja graduated for theoretical in ILA, under the direction of Albert Paparisto. His later activities (until his retirement, 1986) were closely related to his hometown, Shkodra, where he worked as a music teacher at 8th grade schools, at the Pedagogical High School and at “Prenk Jakova” school for nearly 20 years, until retirement. During this period (and until the last years of his life) Zadeja exercised a diligent artistic activity for the benefit of the growth of the city’s musical life. Thus, for several years he directed the choral ensemble of the House of Culture (Shtëpisë së Kulturës), and in 1996 he was elected chairman of the “Dashamirët e këngës shkodrane” association (people who admire the song of this city).    Since graduation and until his very last days, Tonin Zadeja proved to have a special interest in researching and treating historical facts that were related to the life and musical personalities of the city of Shkodra. This is also the main object of all his writings, in which are highlighted some of the most important events and personalities of the history of Albanian music of the late XIX century and the first half of the XX century. Through these writings, Tonin Zadeja, as a connoisseur of Shkodra’s history and cultural and artistic developments, became one of the first researchers of the period. Thanks to his writings dating way back to the late 60s of XX century, the Albanian public and the country’s musical and artistic circles had the opportunity to receive information on such important figures as Palokë Kurti, Frano Ndoja, Father Martin Gjoka, Gjon Kujxhia, or information upon the activities of wind orchestras and artistic societies of Shkodra in 1910-1940.   According to his son, Rrok, Tonin Zadeja has been a very scrupulous, serious and demanding man. He chased and collected with great interest Albanian periodicals in the field of art and culture, especially “Drita” newspaper as a specific edition of the Alliance of Writers and Artists on the issues of art, but also the magazines and other newspapers. Thus, periodicals occupy the biggest part of the materials found inside the files. But in special cases, as his son tell us, in order to retrieve documentation or data on some of the most famous figures of Shkodra, Zadeja had to personally address their relatives to help him by gathering information about them, as well as providing other materials such as scores, documents, photos etc. For example, according to his son, regarding Gjon Kujzhinë, Zadeja has personally contacted his family members in order to gather for information about him, because they had to know more about him, about the events of his life as well as his circumstances of death, being his family and all.   One of figures that Zadeja has treated the most is Father Martin Gjoka, who was also his teacher. Zadeja received materials on Martin Gjoka mostly at the Central State Archives, but, according to his son, some of them were possibly collected at the Library of the Franciscan Assembly, at a time when the library was closed and the materials passed to the AQSH. The same can be said of other documents related to some other vital interests of Tonin Zadeja, such as the activity of the wind orchestras of Shkodra or its cultural societies of the late XIX century and the first half of the XX century.

(The second part continues in the upcoming publication of this article)

Elena Skënderi, Musicologist

[1]All the data upon the life and activities of Tonin Zadeja were collected mainly from the book “The encyclopedia of Albanian music”, by Sokol Shupo, ASMUS, Tirana, 2002, as well as from his son, Rrok Zadeja.

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