The early beginnings of the Music Panel date back to 1963 when the very first Panel of Yugoslav Musical Work was held in the town of Opatija. The original Panel continued to be organised in that form until 1990 as a highly important music event in the former country which brought together composers, musicologists and music theoreticians on the one hand and soloists, ensembles and orchestras on the other, who would all come to Opatija with the aim of presenting the most recent artistic accomplishments from the republics and regions of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, as well as to talk about them at panel discussions. The Panel has always been more focused on the contributors to the music scene than to audience, but its existence never slipped the media’s attention. The past four and a half decades have been marked by an enormous number of premieres and legendary performances, notable discussions and proclamations, controversial debates and reconciliation, as well as by a lot of great music.
In the early 1990s, a new concept was searched for the Panel, resulting in a number of regional combinations, such as the Danube basin, Mediterranean, Alpine-Adriatic, and some other networks, which explains the participation of composers and ensembles from Hungary, Slovenia, Italy, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Austria, Portugal, Spain, and some other countries in the Panel alongside Croatian authors.
In 1999, the Panel moved from Opatija to Pula in search of better conditions and new audience. Having opened their beautiful concert venues, such as the Istrian National Theatre, House of Croatian Defenders, a hall of the Circolo Italian Community and St. Francis’ Church, Pula and its inhabitants have embraced the Panel as its own event. As a result, most of the concerts were also attended by the local people interested in somewhat different music who would join the professional audience and the musicians coming from all over Croatia and from abroad.
In 2005, the Panel lost the adjective “international”, which it gained in the early 1990s, thus becoming a festival of national music scene once again with a few works of foreign authors of the 20th or 21st centuries featured occasionally on the repertoire with predominantly Croatian ensembles. In addition to the concerts of contemporary art music, the Panel included a few concerts with the works of other genres, such as the performances of accordion or tambouritza orchestras, jazz ensembles, chanson singers, or ensembles balancing between art and popular music.
In 2010, the Panel returned to its original venue, to the town of Opatija, which was followed by a change in the artistic leadership with the composers Silvio Foretić and Vanja Lisjak taking over this position. The festival also celebrated its 50th edition in the same year.