Matoš is considered the leader of Croatian modernism (moderna). He was born in Tovarnik on the present Croatian-Serbian border in 1873. Matoš died of throat cancer in 1914 shortly before his 41st birthday. At age two, his family moved to Zagreb where he attended primary and secondary school with mixed success. However, his lifelong study of the violoncello was a common artistic thread no matter where he lived or whatever else he did. Veterinary medicine studies in Vienna, a brief stint in the Army, imprisonment, refuge in Serbia, writing literary criticism, travels back to Vienna, then Munich and Geneva – just some of what he did before arriving in Paris in August 1899, the morning after a disastrous train crash in the suburbs.
Eager to actively participate in the cultural life of this European capital, he absorbed new trends, such as symbolism and impressionism, and made new friends like André Rouveyre and Maurice Toussaint, whom he introduced to Croatian cultural heritage. He even had a press pass to cover the 1900 Paris World Fair.
Defining himself as “a combatant for national liberation and franco-croat friendship,” this journalist and socio-political critic confirmed his francophile inclination in 26 letters published in the Zagreb journal Hrvatsko pravo/Le Droit croate as “Impressions de l’exposition universelle”.