Music is everywhere in cafes, bistros, sidewalks as are beautiful people enjoying life on a balmy evening

One thing I love about Belgrade is that music is everywhere.  And so are beautiful people, especially women.

“Belgrade women are special,” a security guard told me the other day at the National Museum as he was eyeing a beautiful woman walking by. “You won’t find women like this anywhere else.”

Actually, that’s not what I had in mind when I decided on a spur-of-the-moment go out for a walk after dinner. It was a beautiful and balmy night that made put on my clothes again and head downtown.

Even before I got to the Republic Square, which for all intents and purposes is the center of Belgrade, like Piccadilly in London or Times Square in New York, I heard music. Sounded like jazz. I was surprised that only two older musicians were making so much noise. They must have had good amplifiers. Here’s a clip:

I used to come here in my youth in the 1960s and listen to the music of Beatles, Rolling Stones, the Fifth Dimension etc. Now it’s jazz. The more things change the more they stay the same.

Farther on in the Republic Square, I heard more music. This time, it sounded like pop, with a keyboard player and a singer.

Everywhere I looked, the cafes and bistros were full, and people were enjoying themselves on a balmy night.  Summertime in downtown Belgrade.

Oh, and did I mention that I also got a haircut today? Another first in Belgrade in over 50 years. 🙂

UPDATE JULY 19, 2018


It seems whenever and wherever I go in Belgrade, music finds me.  This afternoon I strolled along Knez Mihajlova street to my favorite ice cream stand in front of the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences building. And while I was polishing up a delicious gelato, a violinist arrived and started to set up right in front of me.

And when he started to play his first piece, I couldn’t believe. It was The Swan by Camille Saint-Saens, the music that I have been playing for years, both on my Steinway and on the Clavinova.

Here’s a video clip of the last 2:25 mins. I suggest you click on CC for closed captions to see the subtitles I have added. There was a lot of ambient noise and the wind which muffled my voice.

BELGRADE STREET VIOLINIST PLAYING THE “SWAN” by Camille Saint-Saens at Knez Mihajlova street – a film by Bob Altzar Djurdjevic – July 19, 2018

And then, when I got home, I decided to record parts of The Swan on my white Hofmann piano. Just to see what it sounds like in this new setting. I put some rugs on the floor to soften the sound and reduce reverberation.

Alas, just as I was setting up the “studio set,” the darn cement truck arrived for the construction site across the street. So I had to wait half an hour for it to unload the cement. With constant chit-chat and shouting by the workers.

It seems ever since I arrived, I have been also subjected to an unwelcome kind of music – the kind comes with air and sound pollution – the construction equipment and trucks. But so it goes. Hopefully they will be done soon.

SWAN header

July 19, 2018


Turning a lemon into lemonade

First complaint

What happened this morning at my flat is a classic case of turning a lemon into lemonade. I woke up this morning with the sound of Gypsy music in my Third Ear. It’s been a long time, maybe years, since that last time that has happened. So rather than lose it during the hustle and bustle of the day, as soon as I got back to my flat from my morning swim, I sat down and started to play it.

After maybe 10-15 minutes, I heard the door bell. When I opened the door, I saw a pretty young woman outside. She seemed to take a gulp of air before starting to talk. Like someone who has a difficult message to deliver.

She offered to shake hands. “My name is Jadranka,” she said.

“I love listening to your music at night,” she continued, “but would you mind not playing so early?” s

“Early?” I thought to myself. I had gotten up before 6 this morning thanks to the Gypsies in my Third Ear. And then I went straight to the pool.

“I have no idea what time it is,” I said out loud. “What time is it?”

“Just after 8,” the young woman said.

She hinted that maybe 10 o’clockish would be a good starting time, even though my landlady had said that I could play between 8AM and midnight. After all, there are se cafes and bars outside whose noise I have to suffer (not that I mind).

“Where do you live?” I asked.

“In the courtyard, just below you,” she said pointing. “Maybe if you just closed the back window that would be enough,” she offered.

I apologized to her for this morning and she left.

Flowers at Bajloni market, second visit

And then I had an idea. I put on my shoes and walked down to the Bajloni “pijaca” (market). I bought two pretty bouquets of flowers, nearly identical. When I got back home, I wrote a note to the young lady inviting her over for coffee if she really did like my music. I attached my card to the note and left it with the flowers in front of the young lady’s door.


I was in the middle of editing my Swan video in late afternoon when I heard the door bell again. It was the same young woman. Only this time she was flushed with excitement and bursting with gratitude.

“Would you like to come in?” I offered. “Have a coffee?”

“I just got back home, so I’ll take a raincheck. We’ll do it another time. I just wanted to thank you for the beautiful flowers.”

Jadranka was literally beaming ear-to-ear when she said that. I was wondering if she had ever gotten flowers from a man before. Probably not by way of apology anyway.

Mother: Music Professor!

And then she said something that blew me away.

“My Mom is a professor of music,” she said. “At least she was. She is retired now.”

“Wow,” I said. “That’s wonderful. Bring her along when you come for coffee.”

Then Jadranka said something else that stunned me.

Out of tune piano

“Your piano is out of tune.”

“It sure is,” I laughed at her comment. “In fact, just this morning I asked my tuner to come back. But he is sick.”

“Oh, that’s no problem. My Mom has a great tuner. You can use him.”

I smiled again and thanked her for that, too. Then I showed her my improvised studio with rugs on floor to soften the sound. She did not seem to get it at first. So I explained how parquet floors cause the sound to reverberate.

“Do you play?” I asked her.

“I used to,” she said. “We also have a piano.”

When she left, I shook my head in amazement.

First, because of this new music connection next door. Imagine – professor of music!

And second, because it was so easy to turn a lemon into lemonade. And turn a potentially stressful conflict into a promise of friendship next door.

Thank you, God!


The Swan Variations: Orchestra “Tutti”, Variation 3 – cello, piano, harp, strings – performed and filmed by Bob Altzar Djurdjevic – Oct 26, 2013

The Swan Variations: Cello & Harp, Variation 2 – performed and created by Bob Altzar Djurdjevic – Oct 26, 2013

“Swan” Piano, Yamaha Strings & Guitar for Aquarius Full Moon

The Swan – in ALTZAR’s Piano Rendition (Jan 16, 2013) – original score by Camille Saint-Saens – from “Carnival of the Animals” suite – reposting of a Dec 1, 2012 recording

 3:15 The Swan – in ALTZAR’s Piano Rendition (Jan 16, 2013)

UPDATE JULY 20, 2018


Beautiful day today in Belgrade. After a couple days of clouds and rain, people are opening up like sunflowers. A real sunflower even opened up in “Mali Princ” (Little Prince), a small cafe next to my flat.


I needed to get something at the Palilula market, but rather than go straight there I first went to Tašmajdan park and spent some time on a bench in nature. Directly opposite me, a blonde was suntanning as if she were on a beach. She pulled up the skirt and pulled down down the top her dress about as much as it was decent in a public place.

I smiled. Here I was hugging the shade while she was soaking in the sun rays. One difference between Serbia and Arizona. The Serbs love their sunshine, we cherish the shade.


After a while, I took a shortcut toward the Palilula market and unexpectedly ended up at a war crimes scene. This is where 16 people died on April 23, 1999 when NATO bombed the Radio and Television Station of Serbia. It was the first such attack on media (Bombing of the Serb TV and other civilians targets in and around Belgrade, 13 images, Truth in Media).

I was actually in Serbia in April of that year covering the bombing as a Truth in Media war correspondent. And I remember coming back here again in September of 1999 to pay my respects to my Serbian media colleagues who died here. But I had nearly forgotten all about it until I took this shortcut to the market.

May NATO war crimes against innocent Serbian people never be forgotten even if they are not prosecuted the New World Order “kangaroo court” in the Hague.


Looking at this memorial, I contemplated this terrorist strike that took place here the night of Apr 23, 1999.  This was not an act of war against Slobodan Milosevic and his government. This was a war crime, a mass murder of innocent civilians.

And it was an act of terrorism against the two Orthodox churches within a 100 yards of the target, and the tens of thousands of Belgrade residents who live nearby.  That would have included me and my current flat.

Here’s part of the report I filed “live” from Phoenix on Apr 22, 1999.

This just in from a TiM source in Belgrade (4:18AM, local time, Apr 23, 1999):

“Horrible scenes shown on Belgrade’s Studio B (independent) TV station. Injured and dead people are being pulled out of the rubble (at Aberdareva Street). It is estimated that there were at least 70 people inside the Serb TV building when it was struck. This was meant to KILL PEOPLE, not just disable Serb TV. They could have destroyed the transmitters to disrupt, diminish and degrade. They chose to destroy and murder. One of the missiles apparently hit the entrance of the building.”

I know what that feels like. I have had bombs and missiles strike close to me when I was in Serbia in April 1999. In fact, the day before the Serb  TV bombing, I had just returned from Belgrade to my Arizona home. And had filed a report warning that the Serb TV may be the next target.

Here are excerpts from my contemporaneous wartime reports at the Truth in Media website.

Belgrade               3. Serb TV HQ Next Target? Journalists as “Human Shield”

BELGRADE, Apr. 21, 1999 PDT – We’ve just been advised from Belgrade that NATO has signaled that its next target may be the Serb TV headquarters – by advising the foreign journalists to leave the SerbTV premises. Like NBC’s HQ at the Rockefeller Center, the Serb TV offices are in the heart of downtown, surrounded by residential and other office buildings.

The Yugoslav federal minister for information, Goran Matic, led a group of 100 domestic and foreign journalists last night on a tour of Serb TV buildings, so as to show them its purely civilian nature. A number of foreign correspondents reportedly decided to stay at the Serb TV building as another “human shield” against NATO’s madness.

Belgrade              3. Serb TV Knocked Off the Air; Many Civilian Casualties Reported

BELGRADE, Apr. 22, 1999 PDT – NATO’s bombing targets have indeed become amazingly predictable. Just as we warned yesterday that Serb TV headquarters may become NATO’s next target (see Day 29, Update 1, Item 3, Apr. 21), it happened today at about 2:00AM Belgrade time (Apr. 23).

Ron Allen, MSNBC correspondent in Belgrade, has just reported from his hotel in Belgrade that there were apparently “a lot of civilian casualties, and a huge amount of damage over there.”

A TiM source in Belgrade reports that the Church of St. Marko, Holy Trinity, a Russian Orthodox Church, and the professional children theater, “Dusko Radovic” – all within 100 yards of the Serb TV building – were also damaged by the explosion.

“The (Serb TV) building is burning and all of downtown Belgrade is in heavy smoke,” our source reports.

The Yugoslav parliament and Belgrade’s central PTT (post office) are also within a couple of hundred yards or so of  tonight’s target.  It is unclear what damage, if any, they sustained from this NATO missile strike.

This just in from a TiM source in Belgrade (4:18AM, local time, Apr 23, 1999):

“Horrible scenes shown on Belgrade’s Studio B (independent) TV station. Injured and dead people are being pulled out of the rubble (at Aberdareva Street). It is estimated that there were at least 70 people inside the Serb TV building when it was struck. This was meant to KILL PEOPLE, not just disable Serb TV. They could have destroyed the transmitters to disrupt, diminish and degrade. They chose to destroy and murder. One of the missiles apparently hit the entrance of the building.”

TiM Ed.: If there were ever any doubt before that Clinton, Blair, Chirac, Schroeder, Clark and other NATO leaders who are responsible for such wanton murder of innocent civilians, may find themselves one day facing a war crimes trial, such doubts were removed today. In fact, a group of Serbian legal experts from the Law Faculty in Belgrade had already drafted articles of such charges earlier this month.

But as in any trial, one first has to have the accused in custody. Which is unlikely to happen, unless the NATO madmen persist with their march to WW III. Which they are surely going to lose. Or at least, not win. For, there may be no winners in a nuclear holocaust.


Steps away from this war crime scene, I saw another war memorial. This one is to all Serbian victims of the Yugoslav wars during 1991-2000.

“How many is that?,” I wondered.


The Wikipedia data, which is based on the”victors” (NATO) statistic for the consumption of the western readers, cite between 35,000 and 40,000 Serbs killed. Additional statistics show that nearly a million refugees (983,000) poured into Serbia, fleeing the wars in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo.

And all that happened while the US and western governments and media pinned the blame on the Serbs as “aggressors”. And, in fact, aided and abetted the local warlords in this gigantic act of “ethnic cleansing.”

Check out this Truth in Media page from 1995. We had actually underestimated the number of Serbs driven out of Croatia. Subsequent data put that number at 300,000.

“New World Order” at Work: Serb Exodus (1995)

Over 200,000 Serbs from Croatia, Bosnia were “ethnically cleansed” in the summer of 1995 alone in a U.S.-masterminded and aided “blitzkrieg,” followed by a NATO bombing of Bosnian Serbs in September 1995




We can and should forgive someone who shows real contrition for the wrongs he or she had done. The ultimate judgment is not up to us.

“It is not for us to judge (other people),” Patriarch Pavle told me during one of our many meetings. “That’s something God will do. All we can do is try to do our best. (And trust that) He will weigh everything precisely and fairly.”

But we must never forget. Because everything that happens is a lesson. We must not forget the lessons life teaches us.

Yet I sometimes hear people here in Belgrade shrug when the subject of NATO’s bombing comes up. Like, “who cares.”

The souls of the NATO victims care. Their families care. They will never shrug of the Gang Rape of a Small Country, as I called it contemporaneously in my reports and speeches.

So how dare we forget something like this…

Posted March 24, 2016

A GANG RAPE OF SERBIA: Another Day of Infamy 3-24-1999– a film by Bob Altzar Djurdjevic – March 24, 2016 – music from Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” finale recorded by ALTZAR in 2014 – includes original clips from wartime videos, along with Truth in Media photos





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