Inside Yugoslavia

IT is dusk in Ohrid, and rain and darkness are closing in on this town, which is as deep into Yugoslavia's Republic of Macedonia as one can go. The waters of Lake Ohrid are impassive, glassy, and gray. As darkness falls, one catches a last glimpse of snowy Mt. Galicia and the neighboring peaks of Albania. Though it is nearly night, narrow Mose Pijade Street is still thronged with pedestrians. Townspeople of all ages are enjoying the evening promenade, stopping for baklava or kadaif (a pastry filigree of honey, ground walnuts, and raisins) and cups of strong Turkish coffee. As the night deepens, small groups of Muslim women and men make their way to the mosque.

In the darkness, King Samuil's fortress stands deserted, overlooking the town it once guarded. It is a melancholy reminder of the Slavic state Samuil ruled until Basil II of Byzantium defeated his army.

Macedonia has a long memory of Ohrid as a way station on the Via Egnatia linking Rome and Constantinople; of St. Clement, who founded the first Slavic university in Ohrid in the 9th century; of the 1903 Ilinden uprising against centuries of Turkish rule; of World War II and the formation of the Republic of Yugoslavia in 1945. This history means diversity in architecture, cuisine, music, and dance.

It is best to choose a motif or two to follow here and allow all else to fall alongside those divides. On an ever-changing landscape run two main cultural streams: one marked by the exquisite monasteries that dominate the best scenic spots; the other exemplified by a rich national folk tradition.

Compare the flavor of Macedonia - the region with the richest musical traditions - with that of Serbia, and you will understand much of tradition and of Yugoslavia.

Begin in Belgrade, the capital of both the Republic of Serbia and of Yugoslavia. Promenade at dusk with the Beogradanin - as locals are known - and find your way to Skadarlija, a last physical remnant of centuries of Turkish rule and now the site of spring and summer outdoor entertainment and art exhibits.

But don't think that Skadarlija is just for tourists.

All Belgrade makes its way there, for Karadjordje Schnitzel at the Tri Sesira (Three Hats) Restaurant or, in summer, for spicy beef sandwiches at carry-out shops along the street.

Almost every cafe' has musicians, and diners join them to sing melancholy Serbian songs of lost loves and Serbian history.

You soon see that music and dance run deep in everyday life in Yugoslavia, a country ruled for centuries by outsiders, the Austro-Hungarian monarchy and the Ottoman Empire.

Serbia linked up with Byzantium and the Orthodox church long before the Turks arrived in the 14th century. The church helped the Serbs keep up their courage and pride during the long night of Turkish rule, and music and dance played a parallel role.

Epic poems of 14th-century battles or Partisan ballads of Marshal Tito's World War II heroics commemorate historic moments.

Even today, folk traditions - closely tied to the Orthodox ritual calendar - penetrate all aspects of Yugoslavian life. They are an excuse to enjoy good friends, good food, music, and dance, and have become big business as well, creating ``stars'' who record and tour throughout the country.

Preservation of these traditions takes many forms. National ensembles like ``Tanec'' in Skopje or ``Kolo'' in Belgrade perform theater or country dances and songs, combining authentic instruments and costumes with the art of choreography.

Of course, food is probably Yugoslavia's No. 1 tradition.

Meals begin with good bread, home-pickled cucumbers in winter, fresh paprika in spring, and cheese or thin slices of delectable salami. Meat is expensive, so Yugoslavs often opt for grilled beef and sausages when they're out for an evening, eating homemade soups and tasty cheese pies and kupus - a cabbage dish - for family meals.

As you move south, you approach the Orient. At night, the skyline of Skopje is pierced by glowing minarets; by day, you can shop in a Turkish bazaar. By chance, you may see a village wedding or harvest celebration, but you can plan to see a collective wedding in Galicnik, north of Ohrid in July or, in August, Ilinden Day in Bitola, when a three-day festival commemorates a famous uprising against the Turks in 1903.

Ohrid puts together an eclectic summer musical scene with the international Ohrid Summer Festival, the Balkan Festival of Folk Dances and Songs, and the Festival of Old Town Songs.

Schedule of events for summer 1987 Macedonia Tanec Ensemble Performances throughout summer in Skopje. Festival of National Instruments June 10-15, Village of Dolneni, near Prilep. Ohrid Summer Festival, July 12-24. Galicnik Wedding, July 11-12. Balkan Festival of Folk Dances and Songs, July 3-10, Ohrid. Ilindenski Dani Bitola, July 29-Aug. 1 (Macedonian folk songs and dancing). Ohrid Festival of Old Town Songs, Aug. 20-25. Serbia Kolo Ensemble Performances throughout summer in Belgrade. Skadarlija Evenings, May-December, in Belgrade. Homolje Motifs, May 30-31, Krusevo, (folk arts of Eastern Serbia). Brass Band Gathering, Aug. 28-30, in Guca. Mokranjac Festival, Sept. 15-22, Negotin (folklore of Timocka region and choir music by Stevan Mokranjac, incorporating folk tunes).

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