Ivan Josip Skender was born in Varaždin in 1981. After graduating from high school in 1997, he continued his education at the Zagreb Academy of Music with Professor Željko Brkanović as the youngest student of composition in the history of this academy, and in 1999 he began to study conducting with Professor Vjekoslav Šutej. He has attended seminars and workshops on conducting (Klaus Arp, Bertrand de Billy, Zubin Mehta etc.) and composition (Michael Jarell, Joszef Soproni). He is the winner of Rector’s Award for his composition Heads and Tails. From 2010 to 2012, he attended a two-year postgraduate study of orchestral conducting in Vienna with Professor Uroš Lajovic. His works have been performed in almost all European countries, in the USA, Canada and Mexico. He was the first conductor to represent Croatia at the Music Masters on Air Multimedia Festival in 2012. He is the holder of the Rudolf and Brigita Matz scholarship for young composers.
He has conducted numerous national and international ensembles (Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, Canadian Sinfonietta, Staatsheater Braunschweig Opera Ensemble, Croatian Baroque Ensemble, Zagreb Philharmonic, Varaždin Chamber Orchestra, the ensemble of the National Opera and Ballet in Tirana, Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra, Karlovac Chamber Orchestra, Zagreb Youth Orchestra, Croatian Radio and Television Choir and Orchestra, Palma Academic Choir of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Zagreb). Under his leadership, the Palma Academic Choir won numerous awards in Croatia and abroad. He was appointed permanent conductor of the Cantus Contemporary Music Ensemble in 2012.
From 2005 to 2014 Skender served as choirmaster at the Opera of the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb, where he participated in all opera productions as choirmaster, assistant or conductor. In 2009 became an Assistant to Professor Uroš Lajovic at the Zagreb Academy of Music. During the season 2013/2014, he served as Artistic Director of the Opera of the Croatian National Theatre of Zagreb and since the season 2014/2015 he has served there as conductor. He is an Assistant Professor at the Zagreb Academy of Music at the Department of Conducting, Percussion and Harp. He won the Stjepan Šulek Award in 2017 for his composition Phantasmagoria.