The contemporary music world has accustomed us to many unknown composers who for the first time enter in the recording world thanks to pioneering musicians that chase names still little know. At first glance, the name of Pancho Vladigerov could fall into this category, and it would be perhaps one of the gravest mistakes that the listener or scholar can do. Probably as the most eminent Bulgarian author of 1900, his name could be considered at the same level of Erkel for Hungary or Moniuszko for Poland, in the empyrean of composers who enjoy immense fame in the homeland but rarely outside. A similar fate would almost certainly have happened to the Russian Rachmaninov if he didn’t move to the United States.
Vladigerov chose to stay until his death for most of his life in Sofia, and his music is one of the most successful examples of Bulgarian nationalism in the arts. Considered the father of the Second Bulgarian Compositional School, he set the style for Bulgarian national music. Vladigerov is credited with beginning the synthesis between European professionalism and Bulgarian national traditions. It is said that Vladigerov’s overall compositional ideas can be found in his piano compositions, this Cd offers a unique vision of 10 years of his production, mostly dedicated to cycles of miniatures that are today masterpieces and treasury of Bulgarian music of 1900.
Born at the end of the 1800 in Zurich, in a moment of European music profound changing, he lived the first years in the small town of Shumen in Bulgaria until he turned 11, when he moved in Sofia where he regularly attended courses in theory and piano before to attend the Staatliche Akademische Hochschule fur Musik in Berlin. Here he completed his music education under Gernsheim and Georg Schumann winning the Mendelssohn prize in 1918 and starting a collaboration with Max Reinhardt at the Deutsches Theater as a composer and conductor until 1932. It is interesting to note that this is also perhaps the only period in which Vladigerov spent a relatively long period of his life outside Bulgaria.
From the year of his return to Sofia in 1932 and until his death in 1974, except for some concert tours, he no longer moved out, creating the Bulgarian Contemporary Music Society and contributing decisively to the formation of Bulgarian musical language, following the path of Glinka and The Five (Russia), Smetana and Dvorak (Czech Republic), Grieg (Norway), Albeniz and Granados (Spain), and Bartok and Kodaly (Hungary), incorporating Bulgarian folk elements in his music and for this attacked of plagiarism during the World War II, mostly due to his Jewish origin.
Vladigerov started this path in 1917, with the 6 Lyric Songs, and it is even more evident the will to create a unique Bulgarian tradition in 1928 with the Bulgarian Rapsodia “Vardar” – perhaps his most celebrated work today – laying definitely the foundations for the creation of a well-defined national style and with which every Bulgarian composer after him had to deal.
Chamber music had a central place in Vladigerov’s creative work. His talent found expression in numerous solo pieces, piano and violin cycles being a brilliant pianist, and his twin brother, Lyuben, a violinist. Especially characteristic for his artistic search in the field of chamber music was his striving to develop and experiment in different genres, to seek different timbre tones and utilise fully the resources of music from all over.
The first cycle that opens the cd is Klasichno i Romantichno (‘Classic and Romantic’, 1931). It represents an original interpretation of the neo-classical styles and at the same time is notable for its synthesis of Bulgarian and west-European musical traditions. According to Svetlana Avdala, the Op.24 is one of Vladigerov’s latest opuses written in Berlin. The work here extends his life and creative horizons and speeds up his already strident career here. Young Vladigerov creates music for ten theatre performances. The musical material of his theatrical music is the basis of his concert pieces later. So is the “Classic and Romantic” suite, which is based on five completed episodes of his theatrical music. The only new piece composed is the Album Page. The title recalls the style of each piece because three of the plays are in classic style and three are romantic. Later Vladigerov made a transcription for a chamber orchestra and added another classical style piece, Quaranta.
Choumene (or Shumen, orchestrated by Alexander Vladigerov, Pancho Vladigerov’s son, in 1992), is a cycle of piano miniatures wrote in 1939. It is a warm and sweet tribute to the place of childhood in which Vladigerov and his brother Luben lived until 1910. The cycle was inspired by the birth of his son, Alexander. The dedication in French, A mon chere enfant Sachi, and the choice of six pieces suggests some influence of Debussy’s Children’s Corner. The resemblance is only superficial, the miniatures have an original national Bulgarian flavour and it is easy to hear how that research started far away from his own country continues to impose itself within his music. Written in only two weeks, the six pieces form a beautiful collection of children’s miniatures. Each piece has its own charm and character, such as Danse des Paysans and Chants, transfigured through a personal “place of memory” and united by shortness and simplicity of form. A good example is the second piece, named“Music Box” in which Vladigerov used a folk song usually sung by his father. To imitate the mechanical sound of a music box the piece is entirely composed in treble clef, using constantly the high register of the piano.
Episodes op.36 was written in 1941 and revised as Improvatsiya i tokata one year later. It is important to know that in the 1940s the composer established his own composition school (his students include Konstantin Iliev, Georgy Kostov, Lazar Nikolov and Pencho Stoyanov). The new cycle is a production of the composer’s mature style, where he fully developed his original ideas, tying together all the past experience, coming back to his favourite genre, the piano miniature but thought differently than in the past. The op.36 follow the completion of a series of large-scale compositions like the Symphony No. 1 (1939), the String Quartet (1940), and Concert Fantasy for Violoncello and Orchestra (1941). The five pieces were written in two different moments indeed: “Prelude,” “Nostalgia” and “Ratchenitza” in June,“Improvisation” and “Toccata” in the fall of 1941. If the first three pieces are deeply marked by their own traditional legacy, the last two (longer) pieces are in the two typical European music form, with the free progress of the “Improvisation” (influenced by traditional vocal music) in great contrast to the rigidly organized and rhythmical movement of the “Toccata.”The listening of the latter piece recall immediately the works of Schumann and Prokofiev in technique and structure with its virtuosity, the perpetual motion and intensity, and rhythmic drive that can easily found in various Russian works, like in Balakirev and Stravinski, but even in Ravel
too. What is unique in this composition is the orchestral approach that the composer used in each page, the density of the piano writing with full chords and the repetition of sixteenth-note pulse create a peculiar mode that let us easily understand why in 1942 only these two pieces were orchestrated.
As above mentioned, after composing many large symphonic works, Vladigerov turned back to piano miniatures. The title that closes this cd is Aquarelles Op.37, similar in construction and style to the previous one.
Reason for this sudden “retirement” into small pieces form could be found, maybe in the historic event of the period. The strong anti-Semitism in Europe during World War II had damaged the composer’s life and career. Being a descendant of a Jewish mother, he was constantly attacked and accused of plagiarism for incorporating Bulgarian folk elements in his music. In a Berlin publication called The Yellow Book, the names of all Jewish musicians were listed from the past up to 1941. Among the names were Mendelssohn, Offenbach, Gershwin, Reinhardt, and Vladigerov, listed as composer No. 295. Due to this situation, Valdigerov was not productive during the whole war, with only a ballet at its end “The legend of the Lake” Op.40 and other two composition dedicated to Romanian folk music. This Aquarelles can be considered as one of the last examples of Miniatures, the next one would be composed only in 1950, the Pictures op.46.
Into Aquarelles we found another interesting aspect of the rhythmical folk influence on the composer. He often uses rhythms that are contrary to the regular or steady pulse found in Western art music. Some of his used rhythms are typical for a traditional Bulgarian dance called Daychovo Horo, and the same rhythm is found even into other tradition, like some Turkish dances, both characterised by uneven meters and syncopations. The “Rhythmic Movement,” the piece that closes the cycle, is one of the best examples of this use.
(Album Notes by Edmondo Filippini)
E. Pavlov: Pancho Vladigerov (Sofia, 1961)
B. Kojouharova Buckles: The significance of selected piano compositions by Pancho Vladigerov (Louisiana State University, 2004)
Victoria Terekiev: Victoria Terekiev is a pianist born in Milan from Bulgarian father and Italian-Bulgarian mother (3/4 +1/4 of rhythmic blood, how she likes to underline). At the age of 11 she recorded two Bach's Preludes at RAI in a television program where was present also the pianist Dino Ciani. As student, she was selected to perform Šostakovič’’s Trio op. 67 at the concert of representation for ESTA chaired by Max Rostal. She also performed piano works "Le Onde” by Ludovico Einaudi in Milan world première. Victoria played for prestigious institutions like: Serate Musicali, Piccolo Teatro, Teatro Verdi in Trieste, FAI, Sala Verdi- Conservatorio in Milan, Wiener Saal in Salzburg, Innsbruck Konservatoriumsaal, XV Asolo Festival, Teatro Angelicum (50th opening Season performing Beethoven's Triple Concerto op.56 in place of Trio di Trieste), Auditorium RSI in Lugano, Villa Simonetta- Festival Chopin Nocturnes, Festival Massa Marittima, Trieste Prima, Madesimo Festival 2015, Sofia UBC and Bulgarian Presidency 2018- Capital of culture for the first european semester 2018. She is often interviewed and invited to live recording at RAITRE/Piazza Verdi, Radio Popolare, Radio Classica, Radio Capodistria, Radio Svizzera - Italiana, Radio Vaticana, Pianosolo. She played with Sergej Krylov, Roberto Cani, Maria Grazia Bellocchio, Mas-simo Belli, Iakov Zats, Piero Bellugi, Gilda Buttà. Her debut CD “Gian Francesco Malipiero-Piano works" released by Nuova Era label, world première, has received wonderful reviews from international critics (..."a selection of songs, this of Malipiero, conceived and beautifully performed by Victoria Terekiev..." Panorama; ..."great sensitivity for being able to bring out the dynamics and cunning technic..." Amadeus; ..."the credit goes given to Terekiev, which provides a performance very involved, accurate in timbre research..." CD Classica; ..."there are lovely and unusual sonorities, performances and sound are exemplary..." Lehman, American Record Guide). Also for Brilliants label she re-corded chamber music: "Rossini-Prélude, Thème et Variations" and "Donizetti-Larghetto, Tema e Variazioni". (..."enjoyable interpretation, technical skill ..." Il Giornale della Musica). Her last CD “Wind from the east” (2016) is a tribute to her bulgarian origins and is dedicated to her first teacher Stefka Mandrajieva. Victoria gives master classes about this unknown repertoire: "The classical bulgarian music with the colors of folklore©"..."I chose this repertoire to get closer to my roots - she said in the interview on magazine Style/ Il Giornale - ...rhythms of the Bulgarian folklore and classical music that meet with their vibrancy, colors and nostalghia...".The reviews about it are wonderful: the magazine “Amadeus” gave five stars. Actually she lives in Milan and she teaches piano and chamber music at Milano Civica Scuola di Musica “Claudio Abbado”. Her students won more than 30 awards in music competitions. Victoria started studying piano early with Stefka Mandrajieva and Eli Perrotta. She graduated at Conservatorio "Giuseppe Verdi" in Milan. Later she studied with Paul Badura-Skoda, Alfons Kontarsky at Music Hochshule in München; Franco Scala, Tatjiana Nikolajeva. In Salzburg-Mozarteum she attended for two years the class of chamber music by Antonio Janigro, later with Trio di Trieste.
Pancho Vladigerov (b Zürich, 13/25 March 1899; d Sofia, 8 Sept 1978). Bulgarian composer. He lived in Shumen, Bulgaria, until 1910 before studying theory with Khristov and the piano with H. Vizner at the private Music School in Sofia (1910–12). He then took private lessons in composition with Paul Juon and the piano with H. Barth (1912–15) and in 1914 enrolled at the Staatliche Akademische Hochschule für Musik in Berlin. There he studied composition with Gernsheim and Georg Schumann and the piano with Leonid Kreutzer at the Akademie der Künste (1915–18, 1920–21). He was awarded the Mendelssohn Prize in 1918. He worked for Max Reinhardt at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin as a composer and conductor (1920–32) before returning to Sofia where he was appointed reader (1932–74) then professor (from 1940) of piano, chamber music and composition at the State Academy of Music. As a pianist and composer he toured Bulgaria (having made his début in 1904) and most other European countries. He is one of the founders of the Bulgarian Contemporary Music Society and was an executive of the Union of Bulgarian Composers.
One of the most important representatives of second generation Bulgarian composers, he underwent a natural creative evolution and formed an individual musical style following the traditions of Rachmaninoff, Richard Strauss and others. He wrote the first instrumental concerto in Bulgarian music, while his 6 Lyric Songs (1917) mark the beginning of many such vocal works in Bulgarian music. In general terms, his music is highly expressive and employs Romantic harmonies.
The year of 1922 is a turning point in Vladigerov's creative evolution towards a national musical style based on the Bulgarian folklore (Bulgarian Rhapsody ‘Vardar’, 1928), while, almost a decade later, Klasichno i Romantichno (‘Classic and Romantic’, 1931) represents an original interpretation of the neo-classical styles of that period and at the same time is notable for its synthesis of Bulgarian and west-European musical traditions. His first significant achievements date from the 1930s with the composition of the opera Tsar Kaloyan (1936) and the First Symphony (1939). In the 1940s he extended his activities as a pianist and teacher and established his own composition school (his students include Konstantin Iliev, Georgy Kostov, Lazar Nikolov and Pencho Stoyanov). This period marks a new development in his work with the appearance of epic-dramatic pieces Deveti Septemvri (‘The Ninth of September’) in 1949 and the Fourth Piano Concerto in 1953. Although the lyrical Legenda za ezeroto (‘Legend of the Lake’) had been written in 1946, this trend becomes even stronger after 1960 with works such as the Fifth Piano Concerto (1963).
Vladigerov is a significant figure in 20th-century music. Influenced by German and Russian music (but also using elements of Bulgarian, Jewish, Romanian and Spanish music), he composed original works reflecting many aspects of early 20th-century music. The Gottfried Herder Prize which he was awarded in 1968 reflects the importance of his work.