Petar Preradovic

Portrait of Petar Preradovic

Petar Preradovic was a Croatian poet, writer, and military general. He was born in Grabrovnica, Croatia on 19th March 1818 and died in Pottenstein, Austria on 18th August 1872 aged 54.

Major Works

Pervenci” (Premières) (35 poems) (1846)
“Nove pjesme Zagreb” (1851)
“Proslov k svečanom otvorenju Narodnoga kazališta dne 29” (1852)
“Prvi ljudi” (1862)
“Poesie di Pietro Preradović” (Poems) (1866)

Biography Timeline

Petar Preradovic was born on 19th March 1818 in Grabrovnica near Pitomača in Croatia and always saw himself as Croat. (then part of the Austrian Empire Military Frontier). His father was Jovan (Ivan) Preradović and his mother was Pelagija Preradović and both were Serb Orthodox. He spent his childhood at his father’s birthplace, Grubišno Polje. He had two sisters, Marija and Ana. During his time at school he translated the song “May” by the Czech poet Karel Hynek Macha.

1828: After his father dies, he joins the Austrian military academy in Bjelovar and later transfers to Wiener Neustadt. There he converts to Catholicism, as was expected, and excelled at is studies. He begins to write poetry in German.

1834: He writes “Der Brand von Neustadt” (The Fire in Neustadt).

1840: After graduation he is stationed in Milan, Italy where he meets the Croatian writer and fellow officer Ivan Kukuljevic Sakcinski who inspires him to write in Croatian.

1841: He publishes the song “Das Uskoken-Mädchen” in Zagreb’s German magazine “Croatia”.

1843: His first poem in Croatian is “Poslanica Špiri Dimitroviću” (Letter to Špira Dimitrović).

1846: Ante Kuzmanic, the editor of the new Croation language newspaper “Zora Dalmatinska”, asks him to write something which results in the song “Zora puca, bit ce dana” (Dawn breaks, the day is coming). which is about the emergence of Croatian nationalism. He publishes “Pervenci” (Premières), a collection of 35 poems in Zadar. He is then posted to Zagreb where he meets the leading members of the Illyrian Movement, a pan-South Slavic cultural and political campaign.

1848: He takes part in the wars of Italian Unification. In September he travels to Dubrovnik and in October he marries a girl from Zadar called Pavica de Ponte.

1849: He is transferred to Zagreb and is assigned to the government of the Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia. He becomes a close confidante of General Josip Jelacic. His first child Čedomil is born on 8th July but only lives for three months.

1850: His second child Milica is born on 24th September.

1851: Josip Jelacic appoints him as deputy commander of the military department and as his adjutant. He writes “Nove pjesme” (New Songs) in Zagreb.

1852: His child Slavica is born on 11th August and lives to two years old. He moves to Cremona in northern Italy at the end of the year. He writes “Proslov k svečanom otvorenju Narodnoga kazališta dne 29” (Address to the official opening of the National Theater on 29th) and “Od P. P. Brzotiskom dra” (From Dr P. P. Brzotiskom).

1853: He spends time in Verona, Italy and in September goes to Pancevo and Kovin in Serbia and then Arad and Transylvania in Romania.

1854: He is assigned to the Supreme Command in Vienna. His child Dušan is born on 18th September.

1855: His wife Pavica commits suicide which affects him deeply and begins his interest in spiritualism. 

1858: His child Radovan Josip Petar is born out of wedlock.

1862: He writes “Prvi ljudi” (The First People).

1864: On 24th February he is appointed as a member of the nobility by the Austrian Emperor Franz-Joseph the First who also bails him out financially. He writes a song in the Emperor’s honour.

1865: He marries Emma Regner and is posted to Verona to fight in a campaign against Italy. He translates Allan Kardec’s “L’Évangile selon le Spiritisme” into Croatian(The book is a pseudonym of the French scientist and spiritualist Hippolyte Léon Denizard Rivail)

1866: He is promoted to the rank of general. Poesie di Pietro Preradović., Traduzione di Giovanni Nikolić” (Poems by Pietro Preradović, Translation by Giovanni Nikolić) is published. His child Milan is born on 13th December.

1867: His child Zora is born on 13th December.

1869: He translated works by V. J. Pick, Lord Byron, Dante Alighieri and Alessandro Manzoni. He also translates the priest and historian Franjo Racki’s “Rieka prema Hrvatskoj” (River towards Croatia) from Croatian into German. 

1870: His child Jelica is born on 13th June and lives for six months.

1871: He takes part in military exercises at Bruck and becomes the favourite to take over as the leader of the Croatian government but his health is declining and he rules himself out. At the end of the year he goes to Mariabrunn near Munich for treatment and then on to Fahrafeld in Austria.

Petar Preradovic died of dropsy on 18th August 1872 in Fahrafeld, Austria. He was buried in Vienna however the Viennese youth organisation Velebit proposed that he should be transferred to Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, and his remains are re-interred in the Mirogoj Cemetery there on 14th July 1879.

Further Information

Preradovic tour of Zagreb.

Review of “Izabrane Pjesme”.