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International Music Resources by Country: Bulgaria

International Music Resources offers an array of online and physical resources both freely available and/or offered by the George F. DeVine Music Library. The information included in these guides may serve as a starting point for the study and research of

Maljovica Ridge panoramic photo

Citation (1)

External Resources

Secondary sources: encyclopedia entries


Folk music of Bulgaria Album art

Female Choir from North-Eastern Bulgaria: Kapanski Ensemble Album Art

The Enchanting Voice of Bulgaria Album Art

Map of Bulgaria

Map of Bulgaria

Citation (2)

Composers You Should Know!

Bulgarian musician Petko Staynov

Petko Staynov (1896-1977)

"Having lost his sight when he was five, Staynov took up a musical career rather than follow the family traditions in commerce. He studied at the Sofia Institute for the Blind and was then active for five years as a pianist in his native town. From 1920 to 1924 he studied composition with Wolf and the piano with E. Münch in Brunswick and Berlin. On his return to Bulgaria he became very active in Bulgarian cultural life from 1927: he was a piano teacher at the Institute for the Blind until 1941, president of the Bulgarian Choral Union and of the Contemporary Music Union and director of the Sofia National Opera. His works are monumental in conception, richly and densely orchestrated and readily comprehensible through their clear construction; his music often shows affinities with Bulgarian verse."

Citation: Brashovanova, Lada. "Staynov, Petko." Grove Music Online. 2001; Accessed 10 Nov. 2021.

Bulgarian musician Pancho Vladigerov

Pancho Vladigerov (1899-1978)

"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."

Citation: Hlebarov, Ivan. "Vladigerov, Pancho." Grove Music Online. 2001; Accessed 10 Nov. 2021.

Bulgarian musician Veselin Stoyanov

Veselin Stoyanov (1902-1969)

"[He was] one of the most important representatives of the so-called contemporary classicism in Bulgaria during the 1930s. From 1926 to 1930 he studied composition with Franz Schmidt at the Vienna Hochschule für Musik. After returning to Bulgaria he first worked as a concert pianist then as a conductor and professor of composition and theory at the Sofia Conservatory. He was director of the conservatory during the years 1943–5 and 1956–62, and director of the Sofia National Opera from 1953 to 1954."

Citation: Kostakeva, Mariya. "Stoyanov, Veselin." Grove Music Online. 2001; Accessed 11 Nov. 2021.

Bulgarian musician Lyubomir Pipkov

Lyubomir Pipkov (1904-1974)

"He studied at the Sofia State Music Academy, graduating in 1926, and then in Paris at the Ecole Normale (1926–32) under Dukas (composition), Léfébure (piano) and Boulanger (music history). After graduating he returned to Sofia and worked at the National Opera, first as répétiteur, then as chorus master and finally as director (1944–7). In 1948 he was appointed professor of vocal ensemble and opera at the Sofia State Academy. He co-founded the society Contemporary Music in 1933, was founder of its successor, the Union of Bulgarian Composers, and from 1945 to 1952 he served as secretary of the Bulgarian Choral Union. He was director of the festival March Musical Days in Russe, and of Lilac Musical Days in Lovech. From the mid-1960s he was a member of the ISME."

Citation: Hlebarov, Ivan. "Pipkov, Lyubomir." Grove Music Online. 2001; Accessed 10 Nov. 2021.

Bulgarian musician Georgi Zlatev-Cherkin

Georgi Zlatev-Cherkin (1905-1977)

"He was a composer and voice pedagogue. In his endeavour to create a pronouncedly Bulgarian vocal colour he composed some of the most popular works in Bulgaria during the 1930s and 1940s. Among others, ‘Sevdana’ and ‘Pastoral’ deserve a special mention."

Citation: Petrova, Angelina. "Zlatev-Cherkin, Georgi." Grove Music Online. 13 Jan. 2015; Accessed 10 Nov. 2021.

Bulgarian musician Marin Goleminov

Marin Goleminov (1908-2000)

"[He was a composer and conductor.] In 1931 he graduated from the Sofia State Music Academy, and in 1934 from the Schola Cantorum, Paris, where he studied with d’Indy, Lioncourt (composition), Labey (conducting) and Le Flem (theory). After working for four years in Sofia as a music teacher, quartet violinist and conductor of the chamber orchestra of Sofia Radio, Goleminov left for Munich to study with Ehrenberg and Joseph Haas at the Akademie der Tonkunst. After returning to Sofia in 1939 he was appointed to the staff of the State Academy, becoming professor in 1947 and later serving as rector (1954–6). From 1965 to 1967 he was director of the Sofia National Opera. He was awarded the Herder Prize in 1976."

Citation: Hlebarov, Ivan. "Goleminov, Marin." Grove Music Online. 2001; Accessed 11 Nov. 2021.

Bulgarian musician Dobrinka Tabakova

Dobrinka Tabakova (b. 1980)

Read Tabakova's bio by clicking the link


Bulgarian musician Lora Al-Ahmad

Lora Al-Ahmad

Read Al-Ahmad's bio by clicking the link


Three Bulgarian dances

Call number: M52.D35 B7 2001

Bulgarian Orchestral Favorites

Bulgarian Orchestral Favorites

Call number: M235.D35 B72 2001

Facts in Brief

Flag of Bulgaria

Capital: Sofia

Official Language: Bulgarian 

Location: The Republic of Bulgaria lies in the eastern Balkans, in south-eastern Europe. It is bounded by Romania to the north, by Turkey and Greece to the south, by Serbia to the west and by North Macedonia to the south-west. 

Area: 110,372 sq km (42,615 sq miles).

Current Population: 6,951,482

Climate: The climate is continental, with hot summers and cold winters

Money: Bulgarian lev 

State Religion: Christian

Citation (2)

Traditional Bulgarian Music

Harvest Song:

During the evening hours of autumn and winter, women attended ‘bees’ (sedenki, tlaki)...While working they sang songs and ballads, some of which referred to the specific events of the sedyanka. Later in the evening the young men of the village joined them, and the sedyanka or tlaka became an occasion for flirtation and courtship. 

Sedyanka dance-song:

Ritual songs and dances celebrating calendrical and life-cycle events were usually performed by groups of singers. Important occasions for male singing were Badni Vecher (Christmas Eve) and Koleda (Christmas), when a village’s young men travelled from home to home in festive dress singing antiphonal carols that blessed the livestock, the household, or specific members of the family. 


Historical ballads took figures and events from Bulgaria’s more recent past, particularly the struggle for liberation from Ottoman forces. They described the fall of Tsarigrad, presented episodes from the reigns of specific tsars, and related tales of forced conversion to Islam.  Historical ballads were performed to epic, harvest, and dance-song melodies and usually exhibited a wider vocal range than heroic recitatives.

Bulgarian Folk Songs And Dances- A Folklore Stroll Around Bulgaria Album Art



Boris Christoff in the title role of Musorgsky’s ‘Boris Godunov’

Boris Christoff (1914-1993)

"[Boris Christoff was an operatic bass.] His voice, though not large, was of fine quality, smooth, round, well projected and perfectly controlled. His many operatic recordings include two of Boris Godunov in which he sings three roles, Boris, Pimen and Varlaam. He was able, through his personal magnetism and theatrical skill, to generate tension whenever he was on stage. His dramatic powers, and his ability to give words their fullest meaning and expressive weight, placed him among the great singing actors of his day."

Listening: Liturgia domestica : op. 79 : Library call number: CD20433

Stoika Milanova, Prokofiev Violin Concertos No. 1 and 2 Album art

Stoika Milanova (b. 1945)

1st prize City of London international competition 1970, also Flesch prize. London début 1970. Hongkong Fest. with Hallé Orch. 1976. Recitals with Radu Lupu.

Raina Kabaivanska in Madrid's production of Tosca

Raina Kabaivanska (b. 1934)

"Kabaivanska is an operatic soprano. She studied at the Bulgarian State Conservatory and made her début in Sofia in 1957 as Tatyana. In 1961, after further study in Italy, she appeared at La Scala in Vincenzo Bellini's Beatrice di Tenda; her American début was at San Francisco in 1962 as Desdemona. She returned regularly to La Scala and has since sung in all the major Italian opera houses and often in the opera festivals at Martina Franca; she also appeared at the Metropolitan (début in 1962 as Nedda), Covent Garden (where her Desdemona, opposite Mario Del Monaco in 1964, received great critical acclaim), Moscow, Salzburg and Vienna. In 1973 she sang Hélène in Callas's production of Les vêpres siciliennes at the rebuilt Teatro Regio, Turin. In 1971 she became a permanent guest artist at Hamburg. She made her Paris début in 1975 at the Opéra as Leonora (La forza del destino). Butterfly and Tosca were considered her greatest roles, and her repertory also included the Countess (Capriccio), Elizabeth (Roberto Devereux), Adriana Lecouvreur and Francesca da Rimini. At Rome in 1981 she sang the title role in the first 20th-century production of Gaetano Donizetti's Fausta, and in 1984 sang the title role in Gaspare Spontini's La vestale at Genoa. Late in her career she added roles in The Makropulos Affair, The Turn of the Screw and La voix humaine. Her voice was a strong and agreeable lyric soprano, secure in the top register and capable of warm, expressive shading; she was a natural and highly individual actress with a fine stage presence, particularly suited to the verismo repertory, as can be amply confirmed in her video recordings of Tosca, recorded on location in Rome, and of Butterfly caught at the Arena di Verona."

Listening: Raina Kabaivanska Arias : Available on Naxos Music Library

Citation: Celletti, Rodolfo. "Kabaivanska, Raina." In The Grove Book of Opera Singers. : Oxford University Press, 2008.

Image from wikicommons

Bulgarian violinist Vasco Abadjiev

Vasco Abadjiev (1926-1978)

He was a child prodigy and virtuoso violinist.

Ghena Dimitrova in Tosca

Ghena Dimitrova (1941-2005)

"Dimitrova was an operatic soprano. After studies at the Bulgarian State Conservatory, Sofia, she joined the National Opera and made her début as Abigaille (Nabucco) at Sofia in 1967. In 1970 success in an international competition in Sofia brought her engagements in Italy (including her La Scala début as Amelia in Ballo in maschera, 1973), France and Spain, five seasons at the Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires (from 1977), and her Vienna Staatsoper début (1978). Her American début was at Dallas in 1981 as Elvira (Ernani). She sang Turandot at La Scala in 1983 and made her Covent Garden début in the same role the following year. She sang Lady Macbeth on the Royal Opera tour to Greece in 1986, and Aida in the ‘on-site’ production at Luxor, 1987. In 1988 she made her début at the Metropolitan Opera as Turandot, which she also sang with the company of La Scala in Korea and Japan that year. Dimitrova was a powerful lirico spinto soprano whose often thrilling singing compensated for an intermittent lack of dramatic involvement. Among her notable recordings are Abigaille, Amneris and Turandot, as well as discs of arias by Giuseppe Verdi, Giacomo Puccini and P. I. Tchaikovsky."

Listening: Puccini & Verdi Opera Arias, Ghena Dimitrova : Available for streaming on Naxos Music Library

Citation: Goodwin, Noël. "Dimitrova, Ghena." In The Grove Book of Opera Singers. : Oxford University Press, 2008.

Image from wikicommons


Bulgarian musician Nedyalka Simeonova

Nedyalka Simeonova (1901-1959)

A child prodigy, she studied at a very early age with her father. Following concerts in the U.S. (1913), she pursued training in Dresden with Auer, Rapoldi, and Havemann, and later with Auer in N.Y. (1921–23). Following a successful N.Y. debut in 1923, she toured throughout Europe, the U.S., India, and the Far East. In 1932 she returned to Bulgaria but continued to make tours. From 1946 she also taught violin at the Bulgarian State Conservatory in Sofia.

Bulgarian bass Nicolai Ghiaurov

Nicolai Ghiaurov (1929-2004)

"Ghiaurov was a Bulgarian bass. He was a pupil of Christo Brambarov at the Bulgarian State Conservatory and then continued his studies in Leningrad and Moscow. He made his début at Sofia in 1955 as Don Basilio in Il barbiere, winning the Concours International de Chant de Paris the same year, and in 1958 made the first of many appearances in Italy at the Teatro Comunale, Bologna, in Faust; from 1959 he also sang, to great acclaim, at La Scala, where his roles included Boris and Philip II. He made his début at Covent Garden in 1962 (as Padre Guardiano) and at the Metropolitan in 1965 (as Méphistophélès), as well as touring Germany with the Sofia Opera. He first appeared at the Vienna Staatsoper in 1957, as Ramfis, singing regularly there from 1962; his roles included Ivan Khovansky (1989). At the Opéra he sang Jules Massenet's Don Quichotte (1974), and he appeared at the Salzburg Festival, notably as Boris in 1965 and Philip II in 1975. These were among his most notable roles; he also sang Boris at the Metropolitan in 1990. He possessed a voice of unusually rich and varied colour allied to an excellent vocal technique and remarkable musicality. A vigorous and painstaking actor, as an interpreter he tended to express the strong and violent emotions rather than the finer and more intimate shades of meaning. He left notable souvenirs of his appreciable art on disc, among them his Philip II under Georg Solti, Boris under Herbert von Karajan and his Don Quichotte. He was a sonorous bass soloist in Carlo Maria Giulini's recording of the Verdi Requiem and the video of the same work conducted by Karajan."

Listening: Great Singers Live, Nicolai Ghiaurov : Available for streaming on Naxos Music Library

Citation: Celletti, Rodolfo, and Alan Blyth. "Ghiaurov, Nicolai." In The Grove Book of Opera Singers. : Oxford University Press, 2008.


Bulgarian cellist Anatoli Krastev

Anatoli Krastev (b. 1947)

Prominent cellist and pedagogue.

Bulgarian singer Anna Tomowa-Sintow

Anna Tomowa-Sintow (b. 1940)

Listening: Opera Arias, Anna Tomowa-Sintow : Available for streaming on Naxos Music Library

Bulgarian violinist Svetlin Roussev

Svetlin Roussev (b. 1976)

Violinist. Winner of the first Sendai International Music Competition in 2001.

Rebirth by Sonya Yoncheva Album cover

Sonya Yoncheva (b. 1981)

Listening: Voice Recital, Sonya Yoncheva : Available for streaming on Naxos Music Library

Bulgarian musician Emil Tabakov

Emil Tabakov (b. 1947)

Conductor, composer, and double bass player.

Streaming Video: The Milanova Sisters


(1): "Maljovica Ridge" by "Ivailo Djilianov"

(2): Wolchik, S. L. (2021). Bulgaria. In World Book Advanced.