About Bulgaria - ICN

The legend of the Thracian singer Orpheus, who charmed gods with his music, tells that he was born in the Rhodopes.Bulgarian singers and musicians of today are no less famous than Orpheus. The remarkable opera-singers Boris Hristov, Nikolai Gyaurov, Nikola Gyuzelev, Raina Kabaivanska, Gena Dimitrova and many others make famous the Bulgarian school of singing on the world opera stages.

The unrivaled performances of our folk-singers - the Bulgarka Trio and the Mystery of Bulgarian Voices conquer the world of music. A Bulgarian folk song performed by Valya Balkanska resounds the Universe, recorded on a gold CD on the board of the Voyager space station.

The Bulgarian music is created on the basis of the musical tradition of the Thracians and the Slavs, later on influenced by the culture of neighbour peoples and conquerors. Instrumental and vocal folk-music are inherently bound to dance (horo, ruchenitsa), with the rites, beliefs and labour activities. The various regions of the country have their characteristic fast or slow, one-part or two-part folk songs with odd and even measure (5/8. 7/8, 8/8, 9/8, etc., up to 14/8). The most widely used string instruments are gudulka, gousla and tamboura, wind instruments - kaval (shepherd's pipe) and gaida (bagpipe), percussion instruments - tupan (cattle drum).
Along with folk music works, soon after the conversion to Christianity in the 9th C., religious chanting in the Old-Bulgarian language develops. A Bulgarian church-singing school is created and it exerts influence over the musical culture of other peoples. Music is primarily vocal and monophtonic. The most prominent singer, composer and theoretician of medieval Bulgarian music is Yoan Koukouzel, known as Angel-voice.

The second half of the 19th century witnesses the emergence of city-folk music culture - city-folk songs, the first band of musicians, school and church choirs. At the beginning of the century primarily chorus songs are composed by Emanouil Manolov, Dimitur Hristov, Angel Boukoreshtliev. The opera genre is also developed - Georgi Atanasov - Maestro.

In 1908 in Sofia the Bulgarian Opera Society is set up, later to be named National Opera. The dance music is widespread.

During the 30-ies folklore motives are introduced in musical works - works of national style by Pancho Vladigerov (Bulgarian Rhapsody Vardar), Petko Stainov (Thracian dances), Marin Goleminov, Filip Koutev, Parashkev Hadzhiev, Lyubomir Pipkov.

The 50-ies are the period of development of popular song and chorus activity (Bodra Smyana Choir, Children's Choir at the Bulgarian Radio, Svetoslav Obretenov Cappella Choir, the men's choirs Kaval and Gousla, the choirs Rodina and Morski Zvutsi, the mixed chamber cappella choir Polyphony, etc.).

Symphonic music is represented in most major Bulgarian towns by symphonic orchestras led by the conductors Dobrin Petkov, Konstantin Iliev, Vasil Stefanov, Emil Chakurov and others.

Many towns have their own opera theatres - Stara Zagora, Varna, Rouse, Plovdiv, Bourgas and Pleven. Bulgaria hosts numerous music competitions, many of these with international representation, such as: Sofia Music Weeks, March Days of Music - Rouse, Varna Summer, the competitions for piano players - Svetoslav Obretenov in Provadia, Pancho Vladigerov in Shoumen, Dimitur Nenov in Haskovo, the Chamber Music Festival in Plovdiv, the International Competition for Young Opera Singers, etc.