Bulgaria Cinema and Music

Cinema. – A few months after the first screening in Bulgaria of the Lumière cinema (February 1897), the two operators H. Arnodov and V. Petkov toured the country in search of images. Even if the birth of Bulgarian cinema was therefore very early, but without industrial development, it remained for a long time at an amateur level. Before the Second World War and the nationalization of cinematography (1948), production was devoid of any identity, without well-defined schools and in the absolute absence of adequate technical and industrial structures. Nevertheless some interesting works were produced such as Zemjata gori (“The earth burns”, 1937), by V. Zendov, Najvĕrnata duma (1929), by V. Pošev, and Strahil vojvoda (“The Strahil Voivode”, 1938), by I. Novak.

With the law on nationalization, a profound transformation of Bulgarian cinema began from both an economic, productive and creative point of view. At first, the production of documentaries was privileged, without however neglecting the making of fictional feature films: the first to be distributed is Kalin orelat (“Kalin the eagle”), shot by Bulgaria Borozanov in 1950, in which, with a dogmatic exaltation of national heroism, psychological introspection is almost completely ignored.

With the mid-sixties, Bulgarian cinema shows the first signs of renewal, which become more evident only during the seventies, but also lagging behind the other socialist countries.

The first signs can however be read in the works created between 1964 and 1970 by L. Šarlandžiev, Z. Heskia, V. Radev, T. Stojanov, G. Stojanov. After 1970, the production of historical films gradually gave way to works strongly anchored to the present, which favor the representation of the daily life of citizens, whose existence is marked by psychological conflict with society. Films that deal with previously unthinkable topics come to light. An emblematic film is Koziat Rog (1973), by M. Andonov, a sort of classic tragedy centered on the inner drama of a man who wants to take revenge for the rape suffered by his wife. In addition to Andonov, who died very young in 1975, other directors contribute to the renewal of Bulgarian cinema: L. Zahariev, G. Djulgerov, A. Chopov, V. Radev, L. Kirkov.

The Eighties marked the return of the historical film and a lowering of the quality of production, despite new authors such as D. Petrov, I. Grabtcheva, E. Zahariev who, assisted by valid screenwriters, show special attention for works of contemporary setting rich in individual and social problems.

Music. – The process of reorganization of Bulgarian musical life, already started after the liberation of the country from Turkish domination (1878) and aimed at creating the conditions for a significant development of art music, hitherto practically non-existent, met with the proclamation of the People’s Democratic Republic (1946) a significant increase.

Highlights of this first phase were the creation in 1880 of the first Bulgarian orchestra, and in 1904 of the first Music School (since 1921 State Music Academy), in Sofia, and also the establishment in 1908 of the Opera Society (since 1921 Sofia National Opera), in 1924 by the Bulgarian National Philharmonic and in 1928 by the Academic Symphony Orchestra.

Among the Bulgarian composers active in those years, among the first to have received a professional education in their country, and to refer to local folk elements for the elaboration of a true national style, are E. Manolov (1860-1902), G. Atanasov (1882-1931) and D. Khristov (1875-1941), and a group of younger composers, who were active during the first half of the 20th century and again after the Second World War, such as AP Karastojanov (1893- 1976), P. Wladigherov (1889-1978) and P. Stainov (b. 1896).

During the Second World War and in the following years, the control exercised by the state over every sector of Bulgarian life also impressed decisive changes in the music sector. In general, the diffusion and teaching of music in Bulgaria were placed on completely new foundations and met with great impetus.

According to itypejob, many of the most important musical institutions arose in the 1940s. Already in 1944 the People’s Weapon Music Group and the Svetoslav Obretenov state choir were created. Later, the Sofia State Musical Theater (1947), the Bulgarian Radio-Television Symphony Orchestra (1949) and the State Folk Music and Dance Group (1951) were established. The State Conservatory was completely renovated, while higher-level music schools were also established in the smaller urban centers. Academically, a notable increase received musicological studies. Also starting from these years numerous music festivals were born, many of which have achieved international resonance. Of particular interest is the Festival of New Bulgarian Music, established in Sofia in 1974 on an annual basis.

The Bulgarian musical production of the sixties still remained substantially unrelated to avant-garde experimentation, contrary to what happened in other socialist countries; in fact it maintained a constant reference to the folkloristic element, also due to the distinctly popular character that the Bulgarian composers intended to ensure in those years to their compositions.

In this sense, the production of authors who generally established themselves starting from the 1930s – such as L. Pipkov (1904-1974), V. Stojanov (n.1902), D. Nenov (1902-1953), M. Goleminov (n. 1908) and P. Hadzhiev (b.1912) – does not differ much from that of composers active since the 1950s, such as D. Petkov (b.1919), A. Rajčev (b.1922), I. Marinov (b.1928), and later, N. Stoikov (b.1936), A. Jossifow (b.1940) and G. Mintschew (b.1940).

Young composers active especially in recent years have shown themselves to be more willing to experiment with new European languages, without however renouncing a significant synthesis with the national style. Among them to remember in particular S. Dragostinow (b. 1948) and Bulgaria Spassow (b. 1949).

These two young composers were present several times, in the seventies and eighties, at the Festival of new Bulgarian music in Sofia. In particular, Dragostinow composed in 1982 Five Stanzas to Leonardo for choir and orchestra, and in 1986 a Symphony for Peace for soloists, choir and orchestra; Spassow is the author, among other things, of the concert for chamber orchestra L’incantato (1978), of a Concertino for two pianos, winds, timpani and drums (1984), and of a Concerto for alto and string orchestra (1986) .

Bulgaria Music