Culture


Ivan Vedar and Freemasonry in Bulgaria

Unfortunately for us all, in Bulgaria the word Freemasonry has a negative connotation because of the national features of the so-called Transition Period – the period after the façade fall of the Communist regime in Bulgaria in 1989 which, according to many, continues to this day. The main reason for this negative word association is the inclusion in the national freemasonry lodges of people who became rich in an assumingly criminal way during the last years of the Communist regime or who have been piling up their money due to their political connections since then.

Our article, however, is a brief summary on how freemasonry came into existence in the world, what were its purpose and role in the development of human societies and, finally, will meet you with the founder of the first Balkan Star freemasonry lodge in Bulgaria which was established in Rousse, Ivan Vedar.

A Very Brief History of Freemasonry around the World

The word masonry comes the English word mason and the French one maçon both of which meaning someone whose work is related to building with bricks. Though we don’t know for sure when exactly the freemasonry originated, researchers concede that it must have started in Ancient Egypt when the masons who took part in building the Great Pyramids and other Egyptian monuments started to unite in associations.

Over the centuries, the idea of craftsmen associations reached Europe. The official theory for the Freemasonry origin on the Old Continent indicates Scotland as its homeland when in 1599 a group of local builders established the first lodge with rituals and secret initiations.

At the heart of Freemasonry lies the idea of initiated members helping each other out regardless of what their location might be and of whether the masons personally know each other. It is believed that through secret signs, shared and known among all masons around the globe, they could identify when meeting each other and are obliged to help a fellow in trouble. The idea is not surprising – imagine a mason worker in the 16th century who, for months or often years, worked on a construction site in another city or country, left completely to the mercy of masters who could at all times break the negotiated terms. In other words, Freemasonry emerged as, let‘s say, a predecessor what we would nowadays call a “trade union” except that the identification of members was not made officially known but was done through secret signs and based on secret rites.

Gradually, more and more people became interested in the idea of solidarity which Freemasonry embodied and the Masonic lodges embraced not only bricklayers but also people of all trades as their members. So, it was from back then when the name Freemasonry was adopted as an indication of the various professional backgrounds of its members. It is important to note that most masons were greatly motivated and broadly knowledgeable people with strong social responsibility. Among the famous masons were Johan Sebastian Bach, George Washington, Sir Winston Churchill, Joseph Haydn, Henry Ford, Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Twain ), Alexander Pushkin, and many more.

Freemasonry has evolved a great deal throughout the centuries and its global history is marked with interesting facts. If you are interested in how Freemasonry originated in Russia, what exactly happened in England in 1753 and 1877, or what the ritual Freemasonry symbols, you can start from article on Wikipedia.

Freemasonry in Bulgaria

In 1880, after the Liberation, Ivan Vedar founded the first Masonic lodge in our country, Etoile des Balkans, in Rousse. Its first founding members are the Bulgarian revolutionaries Zahari Stoyanov, Nikola Obretenov, Ilarion Dragostinov and Toma Kardzhiev, and His Highness Alexander Battenberg. Other notable Bulgarian revolutionaries such as Angel Kanchev, Georgi Sava Rakovski, Hristo Botev, and Dimitar Obshti are also believed to have been masons.

The contemporary Freemason lodges in Bulgaria have established an order with the name of their founder.

Ivan Vedar

And midway through our article we got to the exceptional personality and motley life of the founder of the Freemasonry and the first masonry lodge in our country which was established in Rousse.

Ivan Vedar was born under the birth name of Danail Nikolov in 1827 in the town of Razgrad. Already during his young years, his life was marked by an interesting and dramatic story. His father was the master builder Karastoyan who was hired by a notable Turk to build a house for him. The assignor of the job on the Turkish side, however, refused to pay for the work done and as a result he two sides fought and Danail had to kill the Turk to protect his father’s life. After this incident, Daniel changed his name and went undercover.

His life kept that same dynamic path of development. He attended a college in Malta where he learned several foreign languages; worked as a sailor on an English ship traveling between London and Melbourne; became a translator for Turkish institutions in Constantinople; taught foreign languages to the sons of Turkish rulers in Izmir, including the children of Midhat Pasha, the ruler of the Danube vilayet (an administrative unit) whose centre before the Liberation was Rousse. During the Crimean War, Danail regularly visited Black Sea ports assumingly spying for Russia. He also graduated the medical school in Bucharest and received his Vedar nickname from his professors because of his open mind.

In 1863 Danail was initiated in the secret Freemasonry teachings at the Oriental Lodge Constantinople Branch and reached a 33rd degree which was the highest degree as considered by the Old and Adopted Scottish ritual.

His interesting fate continued and he started working at the construction of the first railway line between Rousse and Varna. Ten he became a sales representative in Manchester where he married the daughter of a respected Rousse-native architect, and also taught at Robert College in Constantinople, and became a correspondent of European newspapers.

Midhat Pasha who was the ruler of the Danube vilayet appointed him a secretary of foreign correspondence which exposed Danail to frequent contacts with foreign diplomats and helped him to establish connections with the revolutionaries from the city who fought against the Ottoman rule in the country and later drove the nation to its Liberation. Danail financially supported both the local revolutionary committee and several uprisings in the region. He also helped Zahari Stoyanov, one of Baba Tonka’s sons-in-law, to become a librarian in the Zora Community Center in Rousse.

Before his death in 1898, Ivan Vedar donated all his property to the state, stating that he had given enough to his children – proper upbringing and good education.

Ivan Vedar’s bones are kept in the Pantheon of National Revival (located in one of the city parks) and a monument was erected in his honor nearby.

An Urban Legend

An urban legend tells us an even more interesting story which, if true, was how Danail saved Rousse from complete destruction as well as 4,000 of its residents from sure death shortly before the Liberation.

Here it is. In August 1877, the Russian troops almost fully demolished the Turkish quarter in Rousse which in turn enraged the Turkish forces making them take steps to kill the entire Bulgarian population in the city. They gathered 4,000 people in one place located on the outskirts of the city where they were kept for several days. Ivan Veder managed to get out of his house that was guarded by the Turkish militaries by bribing them with a bag of gold. He then went to the Italian city consul, together they turned to a then influential local Turkish guy, the three of them climbed the Leventa hill to meet the Turkish pasha who commanded the Egyptian troops that were surrounding the city to negotiate with him to release the people and to spare Rousse from complete extinction.

And here follows the most interesting part – on meeting Delaver Pasha, the three of them make a Masonic hand sign. Delaver Pasha, realizing he was talking to a higher-ranking Mason brother, offered Ivan Vedar his brotherly co-operation. When returning from the Leventa hill, the delegation found out that those 4,000 people were surrounded by Egyptian soldiers who actually guarded them from the Circassian and Bashibosuk troops who wanted to kill them. So, this is how 4,000 people from the city evaded their death and Rousse was not reduced to rubble.

Resources

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Mihail Bilalov

Mihail Bialov is a contemporary theatrical and film actor, famous for his emblematic performances both in theater and in big screen productions. Let us now tell you a bit more about him.

He is born in Rousse on May 19, 1965. His mother is a dramatic actress and his father is a comedian actor. The family lived for a while in the town of Montana where his mother performed. Later they moved to the city of Burgas. Mihail learnt French from his grandmother. When he was just five years old, his parents got divorced.

Two years after the National High School for Ancient Languages and Cultures (Classical Lanuages School) opened in Sofia, the ten-year older brother sent Mihail a letter motivating him to come to the capital city of Sofia and enroll at the Classic School so that he could achieve his dream of becoming a researcher and polyglot like Jean-François Champollion – the Frenchman who deciphered the Egyptian hieroglyphs.

So, at the age of 14, Michail moved to Sofia. In the following years, his brother had a strong influence on his further fate. Along with the brother’s desire to become a film critic, he ignited Mihail for acting and taught him everything about the magic of the theater and the cinema.

In 1984 Mihail finished his high-school education and in 1989 he graduated in the class of Professor Nikolay Lyutskanov at the now Krustyo Sarafov National Academy for Theater and Film Arts with a degree in Acting for Dramatic Theater.

He started work at the Burgas Theater, but briefly after that returned to the capital to take part in a casting at Sofia theater. He began to take on minor roles in various productions in the Mladezhki, Satirical, and National theaters, some of which, like A Farewell Dinner and The Name were translated by him. In 1994, he won the Askeer for Rising Star for his role in the Madame Butterfly play where he played the woman’s part of the main protagonist.

Months later he succeeded in getting a place for acting internship at the Paris Conservatory and despite the difficult economic situation in our country, he managed to cover the expenses and leave for France. Only four months later, however, he left the Conservatory for lack of financial resources and the need to find a job to support himself. At that time, he began to work as a salesman, then a secretary, an advertising agency employee, and also led a course for acting students. After overcoming his financial troubles, he got a degree in Landscape Design from the Versailles School in Paris and started his own business.

He returned both to Bulgaria and on the stage in 2009 upon an invitation of theatrical director Yavor Gardev to take part in a casting which was personally led by Americann playright Edward Albee for the performance of his The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?. For his performance in the play, in 2010 he received the Ikar for Major Male Role Award of the Bulgarian Artists’ Union.

Several years later Mihail Bilalov starred as Djaro in probably the most iconic Bulgarian TV series of present Undercover which role brought him fame not only in Bulgaria, but also in a number of other countries around the world.

During the years in France, Mihail was a fan of the TV show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?. When invited by the director of the Bulgarian edition to become the TV host, he knew that this would be challenging due to the fact that the previous host who started with the show from its very beginning, Niki Kanchev, has become so popular and turned into an institution. Though he supposed that the audience would find it very difficult to recognize another person in Kanchev’s place, Mihail Bilalov took on the risk and as of 1 April 2018 he is the host of the new Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? TV format on the Bulgarian National Television.

Mihail Bilalov continues to actively take part in a number of theatrical productions in Bulgaria.

He is married to a Japanese who lives with their two daughters Ana and Olga-Elena in Paris.

Sources

Disclaimer: The photos used in this article are not owned by insiderguide.me.

Emil Tabakov

One of the most prominent contemporary Bulgarian conductors, composers, and authors of symphonic music, Emil Tabakov was born in Rousse on August 21, 1947. As a student at the School of Music and Arts in Rousse, he takes part in the concerts of the Rousse Philharmonic Orchestra. Together with some of his classmates he formed a chamber orchestra, conducted it and started writing his own music.

Career

In 1974 he graduated from the National Academy of Music Prof. Pancho Vladigerov in Sofia with specializations in Conducting, Contrabass, and Composition. In 1977 he was the laureate of the Nikolay Malko Conducting Competition in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Emil Tabakov began his professional career in 1976 as a Conductor of the Rousse Philharmonic Orchestra and held that post until 1979. From 1979 to 1988 he was the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Sofia Soloists Chamber Ensemble. From 1985 to 2000 he worked with the Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra and in 1988 became its Music Director and Chief Conductor. From 1994 to 1999 he was the Chief Conductor of the Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra. From 2002 to 2008 he was Music Director and Chief Conductor of the Bilkent Symphony Orchestra in Ankara. From 2008 to 2015 he held the office of Chief Conductor of the Bulgarian National Radio Symphony Orchestra.

In 1997 Emil Tabakov was appointed Minister of Culture during the in the temporary government led by Mr. Stefan Sofianski.

He is a member of the Union of Bulgarian Composers.

Works and Recognition

Emil Tabakov’s symphonic and opera music includes nine symphonies, concerts for various instruments, symphony orchestra plays, a requiem, chamber and solo works, and two ballets, and is performed both at home in Bulgaria and abroad in Germany, Portugal, USA, Japan, Finland , France, Mexico and other countries.

Over the years, he has been invited as a guest conductor of the orchestras in various countries around the world, including England, Denmark, Sweden, Italy, Russia, Australia, Singapore, Ecuador, and others. Along with composing own music, he recorded more than 250 symphonic and opera works on CDs for partners in the US, Germany, the Netherlands, and other countries.

Emil Tabakov has also been awarded a number of prizes for his works including Man of the Year by the Cambridge International Bibliographic Center and Musician of the Year based on audience rankings of the 1992 Alegro Vivace program. He was awarded the 2009 Crystal Lyre prize by the Union of Bulgarian Musicians and Dance Practitioners and was selected as one of the 100 Best Professionals according to the 2012 International Biographical Center in England.

Criticism

According to the critics, the Emil Tabakov’s works are dynamic and explosive. For him, as he himself says in various interviews, music is not fun, but a mission, and perhaps his extraordinary working capacity, productivity, tirelessness, and dedication to music owes much to this attitude. Through the decades in the classic music world, he has become greatly respected for his perfectionalizm, extremely high repertoire goals, great rigor, and uncompromising performance.

In his career, Maestro Emil Tabakov has also faced professional clashes with the musicians in some of the Philharmonic Orchestras he has led. It is likely that his perfectionism and rigor would not have found complete resonance in the performers, or, maybe, his creative ideas over time are actually due for an update. What is the truth is something that only he and his musicians know. The conclusions we leave to you, our readers, and link the articles to some of the media that have reflected these inevitable in any professional career challenges.

Sources

  1. Wikipedia
  2. Official Maestro Emil Tabakov’s Website
  3. Bulgarian National Radio
  4. Union of the Bulgarian Composers
  5. Impressio
  6. Offnews
  7. Mediapool

The photos in the article are not owned by this website.

Mihail Arnaudov

“When you love what you do and are aware of what can honour Bulgaria in the eyes of the world in any way, you are so enthused that neither time, nor efforts matter.”

Mihail Petrov Arnaudov is one of the brightest, most active and productive guardians and champions of the Bulgarian culture over the centuries, who devoted his life to Bulgaria and to the Bulgarian science. A scientist and a public figure, he spent decades on preserving the cultural and historical heritage of the nation by studying and describing the lives of a number of prominent Bulgarians; researching, collecting and publishing materials that keep alive the Bulgarian folklore; exploring and presenting traditions of ethnic Bulgarian societies. Mihail Arnaudov is a folklorist, literary historian and critic and ethnographer, who became a regular member of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, the Petyofi Hungarian Literary Academy and a Doctor Honoris Causa of the Universities of Heidelberg and Munster.

Early Years

Mihail Arnaudov was born in Rousse on October 5, 1878. His father was a Macedonian from Tetovo, who moved to Ruse and worked as a grain trader. He got married to his partner’s daughter, who died when Mihail was eight years old. His younger brother is the composer and operatic conductor and director Ilia Arnaudov. Mihail often accompanied his father in his trade tours in Northern Bulgaria and in this way got closely acquainted with the mindset of he village people who are the creators of folk poetry.

In 1895 he graduated the prestigious Kniaz Boris High School for boys in Rousse, where Nikola Bobchev was his teacher in Bulgarian language and literature. He awakened in Mihail the passion for literary studies, folklore and scientific research. In 1895 Mihail enrolled for the Slavonic philology specialty at the College of Sofia, where he attended classes lead by Ivan Shishmanov, Alexander Teodorov-Balan, Lyubomir Miletich and others. Ivan Shishmanov offered Mihail a scientific job and suggested to him to continue his studies at Leipzig University in Germany. Mihail spent 1898-1899 at Leipzig University, where he specialized in national psychology, Sanskrit and Lithuanian languages. In 1899 he enrolled at the University of Berlin. Until 1900 he attended classes in Indian literature, Indo-German comparative linguistics, Russian and Polish literature, and then returned to Rousse for a short period of time.

Professional Development and Scientific Research

In 1901 Mihail became a high school teacher in Sofia. He published articles in the Misal (Thought) magazine and came across the elite of Bulgarian writers who were extremely active and had established the Misal Literary Circle. In 1903, he went to Prague to take a doctoral exam on Slavic philology, philosophy and Indian philology and defended his dissertation based on his book Bulgarian Folk Tales.

He returned to Bulgaria and became a high school teacher, then a Deputy Director of the National Library and an Associate Professor at Sofia University. In 1910 he went to Paris to continue his scientific research and, there, he met and later became friends with one of the most acclaimed Bulgarian poets of all times, Peyo Yavorov. That same year he went to London for three months to study English. On the following year he returned to Bulgaria and held lectures at Sofia University. Shortly after that, he met his future wife, Stefanka, then got married to her in 1915 and later they had their three children.

From 1914 he was a visiting Professor and since 1919 a regular Professor at Sofia University. In 1921-1922 he was the Dean of the Faculty of History and Philology and in 1935-1936 he was a Rector of the University. In 1922 he was elected president of the Writers’ Union. In 1925, the publication of Bulgarian Misal magazine began, and in 1923 he became one of the main initiators for the establishment of the Macedonian Research Institute. In 1926 he became the Director of the National Theater. From 1918 he was a member of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and in 1929 he became a regular academician. He was elected a member of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, of the Petyofi Hungarian Literary Academy and was awarded the Honorary Doctor title at the Universities in Heidelberg (1936) and Münster (1943).

His favorite field of study was folk art. In 1905 he published Collection of Bulgarian Folk Tales and in 1913 the study Folklore from Elena (a Bulgarian town in the mountains). He consistently published works, studies, researches, and various other materials. He traveled by himself and became directly acquainted with folklore. In 1916 he visited Macedonia, his father’s home land for yet another folklore research.

He published more than 50 monographs about Neofit Bozveli, Vasil Aprilov, Miladinovi brothers, Georgi Rakovski, Lyuben Karavelov, Paisii Hilendarski and other Bulgarian Revival enlighteners. He also helped publish some works by Revival writers such as Georgi Rakovski, Neofit Bozveli and Grigor Parlichev, and published research papers on the lives of Peyo Yavorov, Kiril Hristov, Yordan Yovkov, Ivan Vazov, Ivan Shishmanov.

He is a member of the Svetlina (light) Masonic Lodge in 1928-1929. In 1929, Mihail Arnaudov joined the intellectuals who appealed for stopping the killings during the Macedonian internal disagreements within the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (VMRO). He was an editor of the Zarya magazine and Narodnost newspaper, where he was an open supporter of the idea that the population in the Vardar region was Bulgarian. From November 1932 he was a guarantor of friendship with the Great Masonic Lodge of the then Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic and Slovakia).

Public and Political Activity

In May 1944 Ivan Bagryanov invited Mihail Arnaudov to take part in his government with the words “Come to save Bulgaria”. Bagryanov‘s government lasted only 93 days, but made the decisions which helped stop the bombing of Sofia. As the Minister of Enlightenment (now Ministry of Education), Mihail Arnaudov made enormous efforts to restore the lessons in the schools which were cancelled due to the bombings. After the Ninth of September Coup lead by the communists in the same year, he was removed from all his academic positions, was then arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment by the so called People’s Court.

While he was behind bars, his book Psychology of the Literary Genius was translated into Russian and published in the Soviet Union. The book represents a unique scientific work which was highly regarded and recognized throughout Europe even since the time of its publication. At the end of 1945 a fellow Russian academician who specialized in Bulgarian literature and culture, Nikolai Derzhavin, arrived in Bulgaria. Upon realizing that the author of this psychological study was in prison, he contacted the Communist authorities, blamed them for ruining such a genius and, in the end, with his cooperation and after having spent two and a half years in prison, Mihail Arnaudov was released. While in custody, he continued to work – he translated French classics and prepared yet another edition of Ivan Vazov‘s essays.

After the amnesty, at the age of 68, Mihail Arnaudov found himself in the dire situation of having been deprived of his home by the Communists, with no job, deprived of income and with all his academic and scientific awards withdrawn by the totalitarian regime. Yet, he didn’t stop exploring and publishing scientific materials for the rest of his life, backed in the last 20 years by his daughter-in-law and personal assistant, Iskra Arnaudova.

Mihail Arnaudov died on February 18, 1978 in Sofia at the age of 99 years and 5 months.

Some Prominent Publications

  • Bulgarian Folklore Holidays (1918)
  • Krali Marco in the Folk Poetry (1918)
  • Studies on Bulgarian Orders and Legends (1920-1924)
  • Introduction to Literary Science. Tasks. History. Contemporary State. (1920)
  • Psychology of the Literary Genius (1931)
  • Excerpts on the Bulgarian Folklore (1934)
  • Artists of the Bulgarian Revival (1940)
  • The Life and Poetry of Ivan Vazov (1958)
  • Yavorov. Personality, Creativity, Destiny. (1961)
  • Poets and Heroes of the Bulgarian Revival (1965)
  • Verkovic and Veda Slovena (1968)

Sources

  1. United Grand Lodge of Bulgaria
  2. Fakel
  3. Bulgarian Helsinki Committee
  4. Sofia University
  5. LiterNet
  6. Programata
  7. Bookpoint

The photos in the article are not owned by this website.

Dobri Nemirov

Today we are writing about Mr. Dobri Nemirov – Bulgarian writer and public figure, one of the founders of the short psychological narrative and the psychological novel in the Bulgarian literature, co-founder and chairman of the Union of the Bulgarian Writers in the period 1937-1940, founder of the pension fund at the Union of the Bulgarian Writers and of the Yordan Yovkov Fund which was established to support talented authors, member of a Masonic lodge. But before we go on, we want to make it clear that Dobri Nemirov was not born in Rousse. However, the years he spent in the city were formative and the author remained connected with the city until his last breath. And now, let’s start…

Behind the pen-name of Dobri Nemirov stood the person with the real name of Dobri Haralampiev Zarafov. Almost immediately after he was born in 1882 in the town of Tutrakan, his family moved and settled some 60 km west, in Rousse. And this became the reason why most of his biographers claim that Rousse is Nemirov’s birthplace. Here he studied at a seven-grade high school, but after completing the fifth grade, he had to quit his education. Being very poor, the family was no longer able to pay for the school and the boy began to work as a clerk. Although out of school, the boy started to educate himself and was much devoted to reading Bulgarian, Russian and Western classic authors.

Nemirov became known for his many talents which were further encouraged by his uncle Mitiu Petrov, who at the time was an actor and virtuoso player of many musical instruments in Bucharest. The boy had a strong interest in music and managed to learn how to write notes and play the violin while practicing on a friend’s same musical instrument. He also had an inkling to painting, making sculptures and being an actor. When the Victor Hugo theater circle was formed in Rousse in 1898, Dobri Nemirov was one of the first actors and frequently took part in designing the setting of the plays.

He first used his pseudonym in 1902 when he began publishing stories in periodic magazines in Rousse. In 1905 he moved to Sofia where he started collaborating with a number of progressive print media such as the Democratic Review, New Road, Bulgarian Collection, and many others. He published his first book called Stories in 1912 and quickly won his fame of a talented fiction writer. In 1913 Nemirov became a co-founder of the Union of the Bulgarian Writers.

The First World War and his service in the military print media Fatherland and Military Announcements mark the period of his maturing both as a person and creator. Under the influence of the Western philosophers Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, and Wund, he began to create in his work deeply grounded characters whose fictitious fate was the result of tragically developed circumstances. In 1923 Nemirov wrote the poem Poor Luke which became his most famous work and was filmed in 1979.

Until 1918 he worked as a librarian at the Bulgarian Literary Society and the Ministry of Welfare. In 1925 with his cooperation in Rousse was established the House of Arts and Print Media and Nemirov was elected an honorary member. He was the founder and supervisor of the Studio theater. At that time, Nemirov, together with Dechko Uzunov, Elin Pelin and Assen Zlatarov, was also involved in the establishment of the Union of the Friends of Movies. He founded the pension fund at the Union of the Bulgarian Writers and in the period 1937-1940 was its chairman. He also founded the Yordan Yovkov Fund to help talented writers, the money for which he had been personally donated by his childhood friend Jacques Elias. He became a member of the Masonic lodge.

Nemirov was very popular for his time and many people were reading his books. Most of the critics regard his novels as a continuation of Ivan Vazov’s novels and his Brothers is considered to be the greatest pinnacle in the Bulgarian literature after Vazov’s Under the Yoke. In 1936, Nemirov was awarded the Cyril and Methodius’ Literary Prize by the Berlinov Fund for his overall creativity and he was only the third out of all Bulgarian writers together with Elin Pelin and Yordan Yovkov to win the prize. For one reason or another, however, some critics who were considered authoritative for their time seemed not to appreciate his talent and his name was not even mentioned by critic Panteley Zarev in his Panorama of Bulgarian Literature. However, Nemirov’s works were popular among people and his works were studied at school until the Communist coup in 1944.

It is said that Nemirov was an extremely intelligent man, a humanist with a subtle sense of humor, a sociable, witty, and desirable interlocutor. He supported the idea for cultural convergence between Bulgaria and Romania. In the early 1930s he visited the towns of Dobrich, Balchik, Kavarna, and Constanta in southern Dobrudja, which at that time was still under Romanian rule under the Thessaloniki agreement of 1918. There he met the local people and became the ambassador of Bulgarian culture among the population there.

Dobri Nemirov died in Sofia in 1945. Due to ideological reasons, after his death, despite his important contribution to the Bulgarian culture and along with many other Bulgarian writers and public figures at that time, he was ignored, deliberately neglected and eventually almost successfully forgotten.

But we remember and respect our public figures and our writers because we know that with their works they create our history, retell our past and create a mirror of the previous ages in which we have not lived and for which we cannot know firsthand. Each of them has helped us build our own self-consciousness, our sense of belonging as humans and Bulgarians, helped us to get to know and in this way preserve our culture to this very day. Because how else could we preserve something we do not know we ever had?

Sources

1. Part of Dobri Nemirov’s books available for free online (Bulgarian only)
2. Wikipedia
3. Lyuben Karavelov Regional Library, Rousse
4. PressTV
5. Interview with Dobri Nemirov (1930), Glasove Magazine
6. Svobodata.com
7. Lira
8. Liternet

The photos in the article are not owned by this website.

Nigos Bedrosian

банкаСимеонови

Brother Simeonovi’s bank

In collaboration with Lyuben Karavelov Regional Library

After the Liberation from Turkish rule Rousse became the biggest and most dynamically developing city with a population of over 25,000 people in the Principality of Bulgaria. The Danube provided easy access to Rousse from abroad which attracted not only foreign entrepreneurs whose businesses in the city thrived in the following decades, but also famous cultural figures who, along with many talented Bulgarian artists, created their masterpieces in Rousse. One of the greatest achievements this mutual cultural and artistic pursuit accomplished was the remarkable architecture because of which Rousse became known as The Small Vienna.

Though, unfortunately, the beauty of some of these incredible buildings is now neglected or, even worse, lost forever, the characteristic architectural techniques and the flair of the foreign and Bulgarian masters from that time are absolutely irrefutable. Some of the European most famous architects such as France Gyunanger, Nino Rossetti, Hermann Maier, Edward Winter, Janovic and many, many others showcased their genius in Rousse.

Today, however, our article is about a mysterious and self-taught architect who, although not born in Rousse, left his unique artistic fingerprint and absolutely unmistakable style that added up to the architectural splendour of the city. It is a pity indeed we know awfully little about Nigos Bedrosian. The materials for this article were kindly provided by the Regional Library in Rousse as I was not able to find a single detail about his life online. Not to waste more time, here’s what I found out in the newspaper articles the Library sent over to me…

The Kuyumdjians' House

The Kuyumdjians’ house

Armenian Nigos Bedrosian came to Rousse from Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey) two years after the Liberation – in 1880. In the city, he was happy to join the huge local Armenian community of about 1,000 people who, for centuries, had had their Orthodox church and had lived in rapport with the other religious and ethnic communities in Rousse. At the time of his arrival, Nigos Bedrosian had no professional qualification and began work as a regular builder at the city sewing system. He was known as Nigos the Apprentice.

In early 1893 the Municipality assigned to engineer Charles Guillon the making of a draft of a project for a city pier. To help achieve this purpose and according to the contract, the regional government had to provide for 60 borehole drillings – 30 on the shore and 30 in the river. It was believed that the only professional builder who ad the competency to handle the challenging task was Franz Brox. Both Charles Guillon and Franz Brox researched new possibilities for delivering drinking water because at the time it was acquired from the Batmish area located outside the city. Charles Guillon planned for a filtration system of the river water similar to the ones people had in Braila and Galati, while Brox looked for options in making artesian wells.

Catholic Eparchy of Nikopol

Ivanitsa Simeonov’s house

Given that the only potential candidate, Franz Brox, the Municipality did not announce a tender for the borehole drilling. His bid for the project, however, turned out to be higher than the planned BGN 15,000 from the state. The Municipal Council then held a meeting to discuss how to deal with this stalemate situation. During the meetup, one of its members suggested that besides Brox there was a Nigos Bedrosian who was also able to accomplish the project if the Municipality agreed to open a tender so that both Brox and Bedrosian could possibly take part in it. Even though at the tender Bedrosian was the only candidate, the Municipality approved his offer of BGN 12,000 for the same project duration of 3 months.

On April 12 at the session of the City Municipal Council, the Mayor of Rousse Mr. Peter Vinarov declared his support for issuing a document of professional qualification for Nigos Bedrosian on the basis of an application received by the latter. The practical skills and knowledge of the architect were supported by the testimonies of notable citizens whose houses he had designed and built. Nevertheless, the District Engineer transferred Bedrosian’s request to the Directorate of Public Buildings on the grounds that he was not familiar with the qualities of the builder. Eventually, after a public debate and backup from the Mayor, the Municipal Council fulfilled the request for professional qualification and issued a “license of professional competency to the citizen from Rousse, Nigos Bedrosian”.

In 1901 the architect left Rousse and no trace remained indicating his further fate. Nor do we have information about the exact number of buildings he designed and built during the two decades he spent in the city. Of them all, however, 14 are currently declared monuments of cultural heritage. Two of these 14 were built in 1895 and are proclaimed cultural heritage of national importance.

Mariam Bedrosian's House (Wedding Gift)

Mariam Bedrosian’s house

The first one is the commercial building of the brothers Ivanitsa and Stefan Simeonovi who were among the best-known bankers in Bulgaria at that time. They took part in the establishment of the first insurance company in the country with offices in London, Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam and Chicago. Now the building is a DSK Bank office, has been restored and its maintained beauty is absolutely dazzling.

The second one is the house that belonged to one of the brothers Simeonovi, Ivanitsa. Currently, it is owned by the Catholic Diocese of Nikopol. It is situated in a large courtyard, its main entrance represents a terrace with a stone staircase and appears to be in a very good condition.

Polikar Canetti


Policar-Canetti Merchant Building

Ever since its construction, one of Bedrosian’s houses has been associated with an urban legend. Mariam Bedrosian’s house was built in 1897 as a wedding gift from Nigos to his beloved one, Mariam. It is alleged that in the construction of the building the architect invested all the money he had earned two years before from the brothers Simeonovi for building their bank. Until their departure from the city in 1901, the Bedrosians lived in this house. After that it became a Turkish consulate, later a private clinic, a hat factory, and in 1948 – a student dormitory. In 1977 the house was destroyed by an earthquake. In 1989 it was scorched by a fire which only left its façade surviving. Then it was permanently abandoned for a long time until a few years ago when the owners of Darik Radio bought and restored it, and brought its elegance back to life.

Nigos Bedrosian designed and built the house of the Kouyoumdjian family whose son, Dikran Kouyoumdjian, later settled in America and became a world-famous writer under his American name Michael Arlen. Read more about him on http://insiderguide.me/en/blog/2016/06/04/michael-arlen-en/.

Among the masterpieces of Nigos Bedrosian is the Policar-Canetti Merchant House. It belonged to the Canettis – the family of the first and so far the only Nobel laureate of Bulgarian origin, Elias Canetti. Read more about him on http://insiderguide.me/en/blog/2016/06/11/elias-canetti-en/.

Sources

1. Newspaper articles by Hachik Lebikian, provided by Lyuben Karavelov Regional Library in Rousse.
2. Manager Magazine
3. Buildings – the European Cultural Heritage of Rousse (in print)

The photos in the article are not owned by this website.

Holy Trinity Cathedral

For centuries Rousse has been a cozy home for representatives of different ethnic and religious communities, including Armenians, Turks, Jews, and Bulgarians. Yet, Orthodox Christianity remains the official religion in the city and in the country alike. A number of churches have been built through the years, but the one that stands out is the Holy Trinity Cathedral.

светаТроица1Holy Trinity is the oldest church in Rousse. It was built in 1632 and is located right next to the current building of the Opera. In accordance with the provisions of the Turkish authorities stating that Christian churches may not exceed the height of minarets and mosques, the church was dug into the ground 4.5 metres below the ground level. In terms of its architecture, it represents a pseudo basilica about 15 metres wide and 32 meters long.

The story of its construction is unclear. Presumably, on the place where the Church now stands there used to be a catacomb dating back to the 5th century, or a Medieval church. It is assumed that during the Ottoman rule it was easier to be granted a permission to build a new church on the spot where an older church was situated.IMG_5477[1]-min (1)

The way the church looks today has remained the same since the years after the Liberation from Ottoman rule. A stone staircase that replaced the original wooden steps leads into its interior now. To the left is a built-in tombstone of Father Daniel, a longtime teacher at the religious school in the convent next to the church. To the right is a second inscription on a granite slab, which reports about the reconstruction of the church in 1764.

In the vestibule of the church are the graves of four bishops representing the region of the cities of Dorostol and Cherven. These are Bishops Grigoriy, Vasiliy, Mihail, and Sofroniy. In the 19th century Bishop Grigoriy persuaded his friend Zafir Sarooglu to donate the amount of BGN 40,000 for the extension of the church.

IMG_5540[1]-min (1)The most exquisite part of the interior is the hand-made iconostasis crafted dating from 1803-1807. Some say it is the only one in Northern Bulgaria that was created by the famous craftsmen from the Samokov School. According to others, the iconostasis is a work by the masters Marin and Vasil from the renowned Iconographic School in Triavna while the icons are believed to be created by the Vitanovs masters from the same town. Yet others believe that the iconostasis was made by an unknown Wallachian carver. The icons are in the Byzantine style and are decorated between 1805 and 1807. Most of them are believed to have been painted by Zachary Zograf’s father – Hristo Dimitrov.

The church is a home for the miraculous icon of the Holy Virgin of Tenderness, created in the late 17th century. Also, the church keeps relics of St. Theodore of Tyron, St. Panteleimon, St. Evstatia, St. Terentiy, St. Grioriy-Bishop of Serbia as well as St. James of Persia, which indicates that the church was part of the pilgrimage routes in the region.

The bell tower is hexagonal and with its height of 19 meters it is the highest part of the church. Built of hewn stones taken from the ruined wall of Ruschuk Fortress in accordance with the decision of the Berlin Congress from July 1878 to demolish all fortresses and walls from the Ottoman times within a year. Currently, the bell tower has 5 bells.

IMG_5539[1]-min (1)
After the Liberation, people donated money to build 2 chapels. The first one is dedicated to St. Alexander Nevsky. In 1979 it was turned into a museum for icons and old books. The second chapel is dedicated to the brothers St Cyril and Methodius.

Years ago, near the Cathedral was located the old Christian city cemetery. Now in the courtyard you can see 2 monuments of British officers who died in the Crimean War. As the British at that time fought on the side of the Turks, after the Liberation similar monuments have been forgotten and neglected. The ones in the church yard in Rousse are probably the only ones surviving in the country.

Todor Hadzhistanchev, a teacher, created the church choir in 1870. In 2009 the church began publishing its parish bulletin released on major Christian holidays.

The church is connected with some historical events in in the city:

  • The first schools in the country during the Ottoman period were created by the clergy in monasteries and were led by representatives of the clergy. In Rousse, the first schools of this type were started by the palmer Priest Dragni (Father Daniel) over the period 1720-1735. Then for the first time in the city he gathered children in one of the rooms of the convent by the church.
  • The ceremony at which the writer Vasil Drumev assumed the name Archmandrite Clement, received the title Bishop Branitski, and was appointed vicar in Silistra and Tulcha took part in the church on April 21, 1874.
  • The Russian Liberation Forces led by General Totleben were greeted by the townspeople in front of the Cathedral in February 1878.

In 1983, Holy Trinity Cathedral was declared a monument of culture of national importance.

Sources

  1. Nasam Natam
  2. Wikipedia
  3. StrannikBG
  4. Bulgarian Patriarchy
  5. Buildings – the European Cultural Heritage of Rousse (in print)

All photos that are used in the article, except for the first one, are owned by this website.

Petar Petrov – Parcheto

%d0%bf%d0%b5%d1%82%d1%8a%d1%80%d0%bf%d0%b5%d1%82%d1%80%d0%be%d0%b22 In collaboration with Tsvetelina Petrova

“Rousse and Bulgaria mean the world to me.”

One of the founders of the Bulgarian jazz music, a colorful saxophone player, a loving, committed, enthusiastic, and keen supporter of jazz, “an oddball, a quirky eccentric and a bon vivant, a screwball with a gnarly character”, Petar Petrov – Parcheto is one of the urban legends and major advocates for Rousse, a musician with a mission who has repeatedly demonstrated a wide encyclopedic culture, artistic charm and profound sensitivity all of which turn him into one of the emblematic figures of the Bulgarian culture.

Petar Petrov – Parhceto was born on November 28, 1932 in Rousse. He graduated from the State Academy of Music in Sofia majoring in clarinet and started working at the Philharmonic Orchestra in Rousse as a soloist player on the clarinet. There he worked for nearly 40 years.

In 1959, he gathered with some friends to form a small jazz band in the city. In 1963 he went to play in Prague. After returning to Rousse, he created a jazz band called The Petrovs Quartet featuring as members him on the saxophone, Petar Petrov–Petuha on the trumpet, Zlatko Petrov on the piano and Ilko Petrov on the drums. The band predominantly played contemporary jazz music, such as hard bop and free jazz, and took on improvisation. In 1960s, together with composer Alexander Vladigerov, Petar Petrov-Parcheto grounded the foundation of the jazz tradition in Rousse.

In the early 1970s, he played in Germany with the special permission from the then Concert Directorate, which allowed Bulgarian musicians to work in the Socialist Republic of Germany. However, he managed to work playing the sax in the Federal Republic of Germany too and got an impression of the music culture in the country.

On his returning to Rousse, he began inviting jazz musicians from other cities in the country. In this way, the first National Jazz Fest was born in 1977. Until his death in 2013, Peter Petrov-Parcheto was its leader and organizer. By means of his active work he contributed to the gradual promotion of the city and of the National Jazz Fest not only in Bulgaria, but also abroad. More and more jazz music players joined the annual festival. He also became the founder and leader of the Jazz Club in Rousse.

People say about him that he was “what a great artist is – it was unthinkable for him to limit himself to and close himself into the space of music solely. He also knew literature, art, and theater – and the people who made them“. So naturally, in 1981 the Jazz and Poetry series were found. In the first one it was Radoi Ralin who took part, Ivan Tsanev took part in the second one, and Boris Hristov took part in the third one. All three were Petar Petrov’s personal friends.

The then Petar Petrov’s jazz band called Rousse became an immutable and prerequisite participator in the jazz festivals in Sofia and Sopot. The orchestra toured around Europe, Asia, and America performing in Poland (at the Jazz Dzhembori Festival), Hungary, Russia, Italy, Slovakia, Romania, and Turkey. They attended the jazz festival Jazz Yatra in India and together with Yildiz Ibrahimova, Stayko Staikov, Ilko Petrov and Alexander Petrov – Alex Berbera they toured in Mexico.

Petar Petrov-Parcheto was awarded the Rousse prize and became one of the first honorary citizens of the city. He was given the Cyril and Methodius medal, the Honored Artist title, and the Crystal Lyre prize of the Union of Musicians.

His relatives, however, believe that all prizes he won throughout his life were accepted by him without superfluous vanity and that, after all, he remained „real, edgy, irresistible, spontaneous, and endlessly gifted”. As Iglika Peeva says in her book Petar Petrov-Parcheto: The Free Flight of the Spirit, as an „outstanding erudite, he could afford to stay true to himself, without caring for the status quo“. With his unrelenting passion for music, literature and art, he continued to spread and advocate for the beauty of jazz music in and outside Bulgaria.

Being a dean of the Bulgarian jazz music, Petar Petrov-Parcheto made pioneering efforts to preserve and develop the culture in Bulgaria during the totalitarian rule of the Communist Party in the country when culture was totally neglected and brutally censored. Therefore, his active stand and work contributed to the transformation of Rousse into one of the most significant and prominent Bulgarian jazz music hubs while he also helped young musical talents by supporting their professional career, and also fostered the love for jazz music in generations of art lovers in the city and in the country. He too contributed to the development of Bulgarian musicians such as Yildiz Ibrahimova, Theodosius Spasov, Kamelia Todorova, Antoni Donchev, and Boris Petrov.

Petar Petrov-Parcheto died on January 24, 2013 in his home in Rousse.

Sources

1. Interview with Petar Petrov-Parcheto
2. Ruse – the City of the Free Spirit
3. Fakel
4. Wax.bg
5. Bulgarian National Radio
6. Madiapool
7. Vesti.bg
8. Darik News
9. Bulgarian News Agency

The photos in the article are not owned by this website.

Rousse State Opera

operata3Undoubtedly, the State Opera in Rousse grounded the establishment of the city as a cultural hub way back in the 19th century and is still developing Rousse as such. In recent years, its achievements have boosted and its musicians have earned an increasing number of awards from their participation in national and international competitions. With each passing season, the enthusiasm and the commitment on behalf of the Opera team to attract talented artists not only from the city, but also from country- and Europe-wise, provoke the respect of both local audiences and admirers in the capital and other major Bulgarian and foreign cities. However, hardly anything would have been possible if the traditions of the Opera do not date back to a century ago and if it has not been led by a team of creative and enterprising people, among whom is its current Director, Maestro Nayden Todorov.

operata1The first temporary opera, choral, and symphonic groups in Rousse begin to form in mid-19th century when the city became the entry point for European culture to the country. In 1891 the Lira Musical Community is established. It is the first permanent musical organization in the city for performing opera music. There follow years of multiple administrative transformations until, ultimately, in 1919 the State Opera in Rousse, as we know it today, is established. Its first premiere, Kamen and Tsena by Bulgarian composer Ivan Ivanov, is during the same year on April 23.

In 1949 the Opera becomes under the full control of the State and under the overall administrative management of the Theatre. The two institutions are housed together in the Profit-Yielding Building. In 1951 the Opera hits an extremely successful season and, as a result, during the next 1952 it becomes fully independent from the Theatre. In 1999 the Opera and the Philharmonic administratively unite. Now, the State Opera in Rousse manages the Philharmonic orchestra, the Choir, the Ballet, and the Children’s Opera in the city. The Opera is among the Bulgarian opera institutions that are financially self-sustainable.

opera5The 1950s and 1960s are extremely rewarding for the Opera. To this fortune contribute three opera soloists – Penka Marinova, Nikolay Zdravkov, and Kiril Krastev, known as the Star Trio. In2011, in their honoura relief next to the Opera is erected.
In the 1960s the Opera begins presenting more and more new operas on scene, performs in the capital city, starts its cooperation with the Romanian Opera and moves to a separate building – the one where it is located today. At the same time, it develops relations with the Union of Composers in Moscow, resulting in the presentation of operas by Prokopief, Stravinsky, and Hrennikov for the first on Bulgarian scene.balet

One of the most dedicated foreign artists who demonstrated his talent in Bulgaria is Dmitri Shostakovich. He assists in the preparation for the performance of Katerina Izmailova, the opera he writes especially for the Opera in Rousse. His close and warm relations with the city continue for years and his successful cooperation with local artists and musicians from the Opera and the Philharmonic led to the announcement of Shostakovich Honorary Citizen of Rousse in 1965.

The hard work of guest artists and composers, along with the professionalism of the musicians and the management of the Opera, its Philharmonic Orchestra, Choir and Ballet, as well as the placing of operas for the first time in the country turn the Opera into an avant-garde and innovative institution in terms of its repertoire. For the first time in Bulgaria, the Opera in Rousse presents Stiffelio and Macbeth by Verdi, The Human Voice by Francis Poulenc, Summer 893 and Maria Desislava by Parashkev Hadziev, Girl of the West by Puccini, and The Mornings Are Quiet Here by Molchanov.operata2

Over the years, the Opera becomes a host for legends like Nicolai Ghiaurov, Nicola Gyuzelev, Raina Kabaivanska, Gena Dimitrova, Anna Tomova-Sintova, and many others. Records of performances by the Opera are stored in the Golden Fund of the Bulgarian National Radio and Television. The Opera also participates in festivals in Switzerland, Austria, Germany, France, Italy and tours in Belgium, the Netherlands, Ukraine, Portugal. In 2012 the Opera is awarded the Golden Lyre while in 2015 it receives the prize Ensemble of the Year that is awarded by virtue of choice by the listeners to the Bulgarian National Radio classical music show Allegro Vivace.

In conclusion, I’d like to say a few words about the man who is one of the driving forces behind the proactive initiatives of the Opera; who generates ideas and finds solutions to promote its artists and repertoire and to attract musicians from other Bulgarian cities to work at the Opera; whose energy as conductor raises a storm of emotions on stage; whose comments and views on professional topics are straightforward and inciting responses.operata4

Maestro Nayden Todorov is born in Plovdiv, demonstrates the candour and heartiness of a resident from Rousse, and shares the worldviews of a cosmopolitan. Trumpeter, pianist, composer, and conductor, he becomes the Director of the Opera in 2005. As of the 2004/2005 season he has been a permanent guest conductor of the Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2012 and in 2016 he wins the Crystal Lyre prize awarded by the Union of Bulgarian Musicians and Dancers and Classic FM Radio, and in 2013 he is voted Musician of the Year by the listeners of the Bulgarian National Radio.

To find which the latest performances at the Opera are, follow them on Facebook.

To listen to the great performances of the musicians, follow their Youtube.com channel.

operata6Resources

1. Rousse State Opera
2. Rousse Philharmonic Orchestra
3. Rousse Opera Choir
4. Rousse Opera Ballet
5. Rousse State Opera on Wikipedia
6. Maestro Nayden Todorov on Wikipedia

The photos in the article are not owned by this website.

Pavlina Dokovska

pavlina-dokovska1A world-famous pianist and inspiring teacher, an engine power behind music initiatives related to the promotion of her students and Bulgaria, the Head of the Piano Department at the Mannes College of Music in New York, Pavlina Dokovska worked for years with Nikolay Giaurov. Her colleagues deeply respect her, her students genuinely love her, and other people who know her, consider her a “bright, inspired, thorough, sensitive, and dedicated person.”

pavlina-dokovska2Pavlina Dokovska is born in Rousse in a family of lawyers. Her great-grandmother on her mother’s side is Velichka Shipkalieva. Velichka is one of the first teachers in Rousse, one of the first actresses in the city as well as the first woman whose voice is recorded on a record. Together with Petrana Obretenova, they transported the flag of the Revolutionary Committee across the Danube and her name stands in the Pantheon of National Revival in Rousse.

Pavlina Dokovska graduated from the National School of Arts in Rousse. Then the family moved to Sofia. In the capital, she graduated from the Prof Liubomir Pipkov National School of Music from the class of Lydia Kuteva, which leaves a deep mark on her development as an artist and as a person. She became a student at the Pancho Vladigerov State Music Academy as a student of Julia and Konstantin Ganevi. She continued her studies in Paris and arrived in New York in 1978 with a Fulbright scholarship for specialization at The Juilliard School where she received a Master’s degree.

pavlina-dokovska4She has played in concert halls of New York, Washington, and Munich. She also toured with the Hudson Valley Philharmonic Orchestra, the Austin Symphony, as well as the Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Leopold Hager. She has done joint recitals with Nikolai Giaurov in Paris, Salzburg, Milan’s La Scala, and London and has won numerous awards at international competitions.

In 1995 Pavlina Dokovska organized the Cyril and Methodius Foundation annual concert called The Musical Treasures of Bulgaria for the first time at one of the most famous concert halls in the world – Carnegie Hall. The concert aims at presenting young Bulgarian musicians to a world audience and has been conducted ever since once a year. Since 2003 in memory of her teacher Lydia Kuteva she has personally helped for the professional development of young pianists from the State Music School by donating funds for their scholarships.

In 2008 and 2009, one of the creators of the 168 Hours Press Gropu, journalist Radostina Konstantinova, began working on the film called I Believe in the Mission whose idea is to promote the talent of Bulgarians overseas. This first series is about Pavlina Dokovska so at that time the recording of the first interviews began. Unfortunately, in 2010 Konstantinova died and in 2012 her friends and colleagues decided on finishing the job she started.

pavlina-dokovska5Since that film, Pavlina Dokovska has had the idea to organize concerts of Bulgarian musicians at the hall adjoining the Consulate General of Bulgaria in New York. It took her just a couple of months to raise the sum of USD 55,000 not without the help of the Consul General of Bulgaria and the Bulgarian community in the metropolis. The sum was used for the purchase of a grand Steinway piano of excellent quality. This marked the beginning of the musical series called Bulgarian Concert Evenings in New York which aims to familiarize the American public with Bulgarian talented musicians.

When Pavlina Dokovska organizes classes and concerts in Bulgaria, they are always admission-free. She is convinced that every Bulgarian musician who has succeeded professionally abroad has to
be generous to theit country of origin where they are born and where they have received free education.

In conclusion, we’d like to share with you two quotes by Pavlina Dokovska – a person full of love, faith, and inspiration.

We must follow our own priorities and learn to wave the Bulgarian flag.

People can truly be free and cosmopolitan only when they are attached to the place where they started from.

Resources

1. Utro Newspaper
2. Eva
3. Kultura
4. Bulgarian National Television
5. 24 Hours Newspaper
6. Dnevnik
7. Darik News

The photos in the article are not owned by this website.

Zmei Gorianin

zmei2A brilliant writer, translator and editor with keen wit and encyclopaedic knowledge, Zmei Gorianin (the Dragon) is the author of over 50 books, including epigrams, historical novels, novellas and short stories, poems and tales for children. His life is filled with vicissitudes through which, however, he remains true to his principles.

Svetlozar Akendiev Dimitrov was born in Rousse on January 11, 1905. Although his family travels a lot, he graduates from the high school in the city. In 1926, he tries to set up a business in Rousse and hires a printing house. In 1927 he marries Sonya Dimitrova – an extremely intelligent and beautiful woman, whom he has known from school. Shortly after, the printing enterprise goes bankrupt and the family makes an unsuccessful attempt to move to Sofia, then again returns in Rousse, where Zmei Gorianin takes part in the publication of the Rousse News newspaper. In 1930 he and his wife move to the capital city of Sofia for good. He begins to write and publishes his works under many pen names among which the most famous is Zmei Gorianin. It is borrowed from Serbian writer Jovan Jovanovic Zmai.zmei1

Zmei Gorianin is a close friend of Elin Pelin. Their friendship is draws from the shared love for fishing and stamps. The two families are very close and meet each other frequently. It is believed that Elin Pelin is extremely fascinated by Sonya, Zmei Gorianin’s wife, and there are allegations as to the extent of their proximity. At the time, Sonya is considered a truly remarkable woman of which the love the artist Vasil Stoilov feels for her also speaks. When he paints her first out of a series of portraits, he falls deeply in love with her and his feelings stay with him until he dies years later.

In 1942 for a short period of time the writer becomes a censor at the Prinitng Directorate. After the coup d’état on September 9, 1944 and the advent of the Communist Party to power, he is accused by the People’s Court in 1945 that he had obstructed the publication of works by left-wing writers. Although this proves untrue, the People’s Court sentences him initially to five years in prison, but then reduces the term to one year because of his poor health. His books are added to the list of fascist literature and are seized from the libraries in the country.

zmei8When released from prison, Zmei Gorianin is not allowed by the Communist regime to publish any more. To win this opportunity back , some of Zmei Gorianin’s left-wing friends advise him to repent publicly, but he refuses to do so. In 1951 the author withdraws to the monastery called The Seven Thrones in the Vratsa Mountains. He spends there the last seven years of his life in creative isolation, dies in 1958 and is buried in the Monastery.

zmei6One of the consequences from the deliberate oblivion imposed on the writer by the Communist regime and the ban on his writings is that his works get published again not before 2000. It is then that some of his works reach the public for the first time. Others have been lost and are therefore unreleased even today.

Sources
1. Wikipedia
2. Pravoslavieto
3. Slovo
4. LiterNet
5. Fakel
6. Tema

The photos in the article are not owned by this website.

City of First Things in Bulgaria

Rousse owes one of the informal names by which it is known to its role of an economic and cultural center it played for Bulgaria during the second half of the 19th century and after the Liberation from Ottoman rule.

1In 1836 Rouschouk, as they called Rousse at the time, became the center of the Danube Administrative Territory, which in 1864 included areas from several countries of today. The Ottoman governor of this area was Midhat Pasha. He turned out to be a capable statesman and initiate economic and tax reforms. At the time, the consulates of Austria-Hungary (1849), Russia, Britain, Italy and Prussia (1853), France, Belgium, the Netherlands (1864), Romania, Spain and Greece were founded in Rousse. The city became one of the most important administrative centers of the then Ottoman Empire.3

The story of Rousse, however, got even more interesting: along with a source of economic welfare it was for its citizens in the late 19th century, Rousse also became one of the most important centers of the National Revival Movement, which sought independence from the Ottoman Empire. Twice the Revolutionary Committee in Rousse was voted to be the national central coordination unit in the Resistance. After the Liberation, the city retained its strong position by becoming the largest city in the Principality of Bulgaria with a population of 22,000 people, and became an entry point for Western influences in terms of architecture and culture. It was at that time when Rousse acquired yet another of its names – the Small Vienna.4

In the 1930s the Mayor of the city, Kiril Startsev, continued the successful trend of city development. However, the annexation of Southern Dobrudzha by Romania marked a downfall in capital and was the reason for the withdrawal of BGN 40,000,000 from the city’s economy. Of all consulates in the city only two remained. After the occupation of the city by the Soviet army after the Second World War, the Communists claimed Rousse to be bourgeois and many of its most prominent citizens were killed, convicted, or forced to leave. The scars from this economic and cultural blow are still evident today, when Rousse is trying hard to revive its economy, attract new investments, develop as an attractive tourist destination and sustain international relations.

6All in all, due to its unique position in the second half of the 19th century and the decades after the Liberation from Ottoman rule, it was only normal that Rousse was the place where a number of significant and fundamental for the country’s development events happened just there. The full list is very long, but we managed to pick up some of the more intriguing ones. Believe me, it was not easy at all!

Year For the first time in Rousse and in Bulgaria
1864 An Ottoman territory acquires its own representative institution – the Common Danube Administrative Territory. The first modern printing press starts working.
1865 Streets are given names.
1866 The first telegraph line between Rousse and Varna is built.
1867 The first railway line from the centre of the Danube Territory to Varna is built.
1868 The first exhibition of local industry and agricultural production is held.
The first factory for alcoholic beverages starts working.
1876 The first brewery starts working.
The first steam paint factory begins to operate.
1878 Rousse becomes the first Bulgarian city to have its own plan for urban development, the first curbs, sidewalks and street kerosene lanterns appear.
1880 Ivan Vedder launches the first Masonic lodge in the Principality of Bulgaria.
1881 The first metal ship is built.
The first Bulgarian private bank starts to operate.
1883 The first steam brewery starts to operate.
The first weather station is built.
1884 The first German-language school in Bulgaria and on the Balkans is established.
The first pharmaceutical community is set up.
1890 The First Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce is established.
1891 The first insurance company starts to operate.
1896 The first manually operated elevator is built.
1897 The first film show is presented.
1906 The first import of cars is performed.
1933 The first private-funded refinery is built. First Bulgarian Oil Industry is established.
1953 The first bridge over the Danube is built to connect Bulgaria and Romania.
1981 The first civil protests during totalitarianism are held.
The first attempt to establish a civil ecological organization is made.

firstfilmshow
Sources
1. Peika
2. Wikipedia

The photos in the article are not owned by this website.

Profit-Yielding Building

dohodno1 One of the most familiar and iconic buildings in Rousse, the Profit-Yielding Building houses Sava Ognianov Rousse Theatre and is an architectural and a cultural monument of national importance.

After the Bulgarian Liberation in 1878, Rousse becomes the largest city and the greatest economic center in the Principality of Bulgaria. At that time, the local community of residents decided to act upon the idea to construct a building that would act as a cultural hub for the citizens, on the one hand, while its rented premises generate revenues intended for the development of the local schools, on the other.

dohodno2 On October 11, 1896 the Municipal City Council decides to allocate land for a theater building in the city center and announces a competition for its design. The winning project is the architectural plan by the Viennese architect Peter Paul Brang who at the time was designing buildings not only in cities around Bulgaria, but also in the Czech Republic, Slovenia, and Romania. The construction of the building began in 1898. The main building is completed in 1900 and the construction is officially announced to be over in 1902. The project for the theater premises is done by Mr Turnichek, a teacher in drawing, and by Romeo Giromagny, the Chief Artist of the National Theatre in Bucharest.

The facade of the building is a Neoclassical architectural masterpiece for its time and the decorative elements are in the traditional European 19th-century style. All architectural forms, ornaments and statues of the Profit-Yielding Building are made of stone. Seven figures rise from the roof and symbolize Art, Science, Agriculture, Handcrafts, Trade, Defense, and Flight of the free human spirit. Atop is the statue of Mercury as the symbol of Trade.

dohodno-zdanie-ruse On December 25 and 27, 1901 and on January 8, 1902 in the Casino located at the Profit-Yielding Building the Theatre played the Paris Junkie by Edmond Brizbar and Eugene New. This is considered to be the first performance of the Rousse Theatre in the Building. That is why the history of the Profit-Yielding Building is actually the history of Sava Ognianov Rousse Theatre, which to this day is housed there. Therefore, the more familiar name of the Profit-Yielding Building is simply The Theatre.

From 1928 to 1954 Liuben Karavelov City Library is located in the Building. From 1955 to 1990 the Zora Revival Community Centre is also housed there, and between 1947 and 1979 the Profit-Yielding Building hosts the expositions of the City Art Gallery.dohodno4

In 1975, the local governing body decides on a full reconstruction of the Building. In 1981 it is closed for renovation, but the reconstruction itself begins only a few years later. The overall renewal continues for the next 24 years. Finally, on July 1, 1999 the new Chamber Theatre Hall is officially presented to the public and on December 15, 2005 the new Big Scene Hall welcomes its first audience.dohodno3

In 2014 the Profit-Yielding Building is chosen by public vote the Bulgarian National Iconic Building of the Year.

Sources:

1. Wikipedia
2. To and From
3. Boulevard
4. Vesti

The photos in the article are not owned by this website.

Big Band Rousse

Yet another evidence of the long-lasting traditions in musical art in the city is the Municipal Brass Band Big Band Rousse. For over 50 years now not only has it been affirming musical talents, but also developing them by creating its own sound style and working on joint projects together with national and international artists.

bigbandruse3The band is established in 1963 as a civil formation of musicians. Its first conductor is Maestro Stefan Vachev. The orchestra is actually the successor of the military musical bands which brought about the orchestral idea to Bulgaria in the 19th century having Czech musicians visiting the country. These later became the founders of the brass music in our country.

As of 1995 the conductor of the brass band in Rousse is Mr Dimcho Rubchev. With the support of collaborators and other professionals, he further develops the orchestra in such a way that its music is now recognizable by its innovative approach and dynamic performances while accompanied by the high professionalism of the musicians. Gradually, Big Band Rousse became one of the city emblems of cultural life.

bigbandruse1Among the guest soloist of the band are some of the best Bulgarian jazz musicians – Angel Zaberski, Mihail Yosifov, Ventsislav Blagoev, and Hilda Kazasyan.

Big Band Rousse has done recordings for the Bulgarian National Television and the Bulgarian National Radio. It is the only orchestra in Bulgaria which has released two solo CDs with paid copyrights.

For the band’s musical achievements they are awarded the special prize by the Ministry of Culture and the Cyril and Methodius 1st degree medal. They are also the first brass band to be nominated in the Crystal Lyre National Contest in 2013 and 2014 in the Orchestra Art category. In 2013 the band receives four awards from the Union of the Bulgarian Musicians and Dancers.

dimchorubchevThe band has successfully toured in Germany, Belgium, France, Italy, Finland, the Czech Republic, Russia, and Romania. They win the Special Prize of the Jury and the Prize of the Audience at the International Competition in Olomouc, Czech Republic, and also a prize from the International Competition in Nantes, France.

Listen to the band perform their Friday Concerts Cycle here and to their live performance together with Hilda Kazasyan here.

Sources

1. Ruse Info
2. Big Band Rousse
3. Darik News

The photos in the article are not owned by this website.

The Golden Fiddle

goldenfiddle3The Golden Fiddle is one of the oldest folklore festivals in Bulgaria and an emblematic event for Rousse. It is held in the open during the first two weeks in June every year and lasts one day. It is organized by the Municipality.

The beginning was set 47 years ago. From the distant 1969 up to 2015 including it is takes place near the banks of the Danube in the vicinity of the Prista Hut very close to the city. With time it becomes a traditional centre of attraction for singing groups and individual performers of authentic and cultivated folklore music. They present songs, folklore sketches, costumes and ancient rituals and customs to the jury.

goldenfiddle7The festival features two parts. The Cultivated Folklore Music one includes folklore dance groups, choirs, vocal groups and orchestras performing folklore music. The Authentic Folklore Music one is presents folklore traditions, groups for playing songs with and without accompaniment, instrumental groups, and storytellers.

The Grand Prize that is awarded is the Golden Fiddle and, in addition, all winners receive cash prizes too.

goldenfiddle5The 47th edition of the festival in 2016 is held in the city at the Park of Youth. It brings together over 800 participants from all over the country. They comprise 29 groups for authentic folklore, 28 groups for cultivated folklore, and 43 individual performers. The youngest participant is a five-year old local girl. The edition is accompanied by the exhibition of hand-made household appliances made by craftsmen from the Bulgaria from Sofia, Varna, Plovdiv, Silistra, Kazanlak and other towns in the country as well as craftsmen from Peru and Ukraine.

The winner of this year’s (2016) Golden Fiddle Folklore Festival is the community centre Prosveta 1915 (Enlightenment 1915) from the residential area of Dolapite in Rousse.

goldenfiddle1Sources

1. Festivals
2. Rousse Info
3. Bulgarian National Television 2
4. Rousse News
5. Rousse Top News
6. Bulgarian National Radio

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Photo credit: Tsvetomir Tsvetanov

Elias Canetti

elias1The only Nobel prize laureate so far to be born and to have lived in Bulgaria comes from Rousse and was born on July 25 1905. Elias Canetti is the eldest of the three sons to Jacques Canetti and Matilda Arditi. His mother comes from one of the oldest Sephardic families in the country, who are also among the founders of the Jewish colony in Rousse in the late 18th century. The kin can be traced back to the 14th century when the ancestors worked as court physicians and astronomers at the Aragonese Royal Court of Alfonso IV and Pedro IV.

elias-allBy the age of six the family lives in Rousse, where Elias’ father and grandfather develop a successful production plant for umbrellas and also trade with glass, paints, varnishes, and other household goods. In 1911 the family moves to Manchester, where his father takes part in the family business there. In 1912 Jacques Canetti suddenly died. His mother was desolate and alone with the three children. She moved then first to Lausanne in Switzerland and then again to Vienna in Austria.

Besides the languages he already knows – Bulgarian, English and French, Elias learns German as well. In 1921 the family moves to Zurich and in 1924 to Frankfurt, where he graduates from high school. In 1924 he became a student in chemistry at the Vienna University to graduate with a doctorate in 1929.

elias-vezaIn 1934 he marries writer Veneciana (Veza) Taubner-Calderon, who is eight years older than him and is to become his muse and literary assistant. When Austria joined Nazi Germany and the persecutions of Jews began, the Canetti moved to Paris and then London to finally settle in Britain. Elias gets married a second time after Veza’s death and has a couple of affairs one of which with the Irish poet Iris Murdoch.

vezacanettiThough writing in German, in 1952 he receives UK citizenship and remaines in Britain until 1970. The last 20 years of his life he spends mainly in Zurich. There he writes his autobiography. Its first part published in 1977 is “The Tongue Set Free”, where he describes the first years of his childhood he spent in Rousse, then the time when the family moved to Britain, his father’s death and the subsequent relocation of the mother with the children in Switzerland.

1981 brings about the Nobel Prize for Literature for Lifetime Achievement “for writings marked by a broad outlook, a wealth of ideas and artistic power”. Apart from the Nobel prize, he received recognition by winning a number of other international awards.

canettiElias Canetti has been a sensitive boy and grew up to become an intuitive man. Rousse, where he spent his first childhood years, is colourful and dynamic with people of different backgrounds and from various cultures and he is exposed to variety of languages. The heavy loss of his father and the two world wars later on also affected his personality and marked his work. The main topics gradually to become characteristic of his works are fear, death, evil and power. Gradually, the writer shares the idea that death and evil are identical and represent one whole. Strong influence on his works have also Franz Kafka, Georg Büchner and the psychoanalytic school of Sigmund Freud.

The philosophical Crowds and Power is considered to be his masterpiece and is completed only in 1960. In it he uses the description of the elementary experience of being a part of a crowd to reveal the conditions and dynamics of the masses. As a result, he makes immersive conclusions about the mechanics of power, namely, that the crowds and power are inherently and constantly connected.

In 1994 Elias Canetti dies in Zurich. His works are translated into 25 languages.

Recognition in Bulgaria

In 2005 in Rousse is established the Elias Canetti national literary prize.

During the first international conference in Bulgaria in 1992, which was dedicated to the works of the writer, in Rousse is set up the Elias Canetti International Society.

The building where the family lived before the Canetti leave for Manchester is preserved.

The commercial building used by the family business is used by the Elias Canetti International Society under the name The Canetti House.

On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the birth of the writer, in 2005 in Rousse a memorial plaque on the eponymous square is inaugurated.

The Vocational School of Economics and Management in Rousse adopted the name of Nobel Prize winner.

In 2004 one of the Antarctic peaks is named after Canetti.

Quotes

Everything that I later experienced had already happened once in Ruschuk.

It is only in a crowd that man can become free of this fear of being touched.

It is for the sake of this blessed moment when no one is greater or better than another that people become a crowd.

Sources

1. Nobelprize.org
2. Wikipedia
3. Kafka through the Eyes of Elias Canetti by Ventseslav Konstantinov
4. The First Window – Elias Canetti – Rousse 1/3
5. The First Window – Elias Canetti – Rousse 2/3
6. The First Window – Elias Canetti – Rousse 3/3
7. Elias Canetti… from Rousse

The photos in the article are not owned by this website.

Michael Arlen

by Bassano, half-plate glass negative, 8 December 1930

by Bassano, half-plate glass negative, 8 December 1930

An extremely talented and internationally distinguished writer from the beginnign of 20the century, Michael Arlen is was born in Rousse as Dikran Kouyoumdjian in November 1885 to an Armenian merchant family who had emigrated to Rousse because of persecutions of Armenians within the Ottoman Empire.

His mother comes from the wealthy Armenian Aslanian family who trade with tobacco and wool predominantly with English enterprises. She is a highly educated woman, who plays the piano, speaks an excellent French and is keen on reading owning a library full of classic novels. She is also the one to take care of the small boy’s education and to trigger his passion for literature.

During these years the family business thrives and grows. The parents decide to send Dikran to England to study so that he is able to lead the English branch of the family enterprise later on. At the age of six in 1901 Dikran leaves for the Island, graduates a state school and is admitted to the St Andrews College in Scotland. arlen2

While he is at college, the family business takes a steep downfall and goes bankrupt. As a result, Dikran quits college, settles in London, starts to write to make ends meet and adopts the prn name of Michael Arlen.

In the beginning he writes for newspapers and magazines. His first novel The London Venture, which is description of his life up to that moment, comes out in 1920. In 1921 his first collection of short stories called The Romantic Lady is published. In 1922 he acquires a British citizenship and adopts Michael Arlen as his official name.

His novel The Green Hat is out in 1924. It is considered to be his masterpiece, becomes an instant success. The Green Hat is later on dramatized and presented at the West End’s Adelphi Theatre, then adapted for cinema and filmed in 1928 starring Greta Garbo in the lead role.

Mrs. Michael Arlen (formerly Countess Atlanta Mercati) wearing dark-colored knit dress with long sleeves, pleated hem, and contrasting collar; sitting in a chair

Mrs. Michael Arlen (formerly Countess Atlanta Mercati)

During this period of his life Michael Arlen is socially very active. Among his friends are Hemingway and Francis Scott Fitzgerald. Often critics liken Arlen’s writing to Fitzgerald’s due to the multi-layer protagonists both depict. In 1928 Michael Arlen marries Countess Atlanta Mercati from whom he has a son and a daughter. Upon the outbreak of the Second World War the family moves to the United States and the Arlen becomes one of the most sought after scriptwriters in Holywood. He also writes horror stories and Alfred Hitchcock integrates some of them into his movies.

In 1956 at the age of 60 Michael Arlen dies in New York.

Resources:
1. BG Traces
2. European Culture Centre in Rousse
3. Wikiwand
4. Wikipedia

The photos in the article are not owned by this website.

Svetlin Rusev

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In collaboration with Jennifer Atanassova

One of the most famous musicians in the country and abroad, Svetlin Rusev is a violinist and a violin teacher and is internationally recognized for his talent and mastering skills.

He is born in Rousse in 1976. Although his dream is to become a fighter pilot, he takes his first violin lessons from his mother at the age of five and is admitted to the National School of Arts in the city.

In 1991, the famous clarinet player Mr Koycho Atanasoff invites him to a concert-recital in Paris. After the event, the young virtuoso is noticed by representatives of the Paris Conservatory and at the age of only 15 he is accepted to the Conservatory. Among his professors are Devi Ehrlich and Jean-Jacques Kantorow. In 1997 he settles in Paris and later on marries his now wife Fleur, together with whom they have two children – Chloe and George. Their second names are Mila and Simeon respectively. He speaks with them in Bulgarian only.

Since the year two thousand Svetlin Rusev has been a concertmaster in the Overn Chamber Orchestra. In 2005 he becoms a concertmaster of the French National Radio (RFI) Philharmonic Orchestra, and in 2007 – a concertmaster of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra. An interesting fact is that all the RFI Orchestra musicians are goodwill ambassadors to UNICEF and visit Africa and Latin America on various missions involving children.

Svetlin Rusev is awarded the 2006 Musician of the Year prize in Bulgaria. Throughout his career he wins numerous international prizes. Some of the most prestigious ones are from the competitions in Indianapolis and Melbourne as well as the Marguerite Long – Jacques Thibaud award. In 2001 he wins the Grand Prize, the Special Audience Award and the Special Award for the best interpretation of a Johann Sebastian Bach’s concerto at the First International Competition in Sendai, Japan. Svetlin Rusev plays a 1710 Camposelice Stradivarius, which is kindly provided by the Nippon Music Foundation.

Since September 2008 he has been a Professor in violin at the National Higher Conservatory in Paris. In Bulgaria, he leads master classes. He also works with the Bolshoi Theatre, Suntory Hall, the Seoul Center for the Arts, the Champs-Elysees Theatre and plays alongside some of the world’s most recognized musicians.

A more extravagant activity is his participation in the Tangisimo ensemble with who he plays Argentine tango. The ensemble has visited Bulgaria on several occasions too. Yet another creative project in which Svetlin Rusev has taken part is the Rusev-Salk-Rozanova piano trio that is highly appreciated by the international audience.

An incredible virtuoso, Svetlin Rusev plays his violin in such a way that it brings ages, feelings, events, and relationships to life and paints pictures which are effortlessly followed by the imagination. Judge for yourself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W839DuQcadE.

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Source:
1. http://cantusfirmusbg.com/125/svetlin-roussev/
2. https://www.24chasa.bg/Article/693751
3. http://svetlinroussev.com/main_en.html

The photos in the article are not owned by this website.

St. Petka-Paraskeva

petka9-minThe Church of St. Petka–Paraskeva is somewhat skipped by the standard tourist routes, which are mostly concentrated in the central parts of the city. It is located at the side of the road leading you out of the city, just right next to the bridge, known amongst the locals as the Snail.

On a cool sunny morning in March the taxi is carefully making progress along the narrow neighborhood street frustratingly studded with asphalt undulations, and stops near the entrance of the Orthodox temple. Out of excitement I can hardly unlock my phone to start making pictures. Though I grew up in Rousse, I have never been here before.

The construction works began in 1939. They were initiated and mainly paid for by a local ceraftsman and businessman. petka2-minThe architecture of the church is a replica of the Round Church built by King Simeon the Great in Veliki Preslav and is the first successful attempt for the architectural plans intended for the restoration of the Golden Church to be implemented. Craftsmen from the city worked on the carving of the iconostasis inside as well as on the painting of murals. The overall financing of the construction was also carried out through donations made by other churches in the city. The church  was completed in 1944 when its consecration was done. It takes its name from the name of the last rock church iin the Rusenski Lom River valley, the Church of Sveta Petka, which was buried under the ground after the Liberation.

A little anteroom with the traditional cabndle-selling counter greets me. Despite the solitude of this remote corner of spirituality, a smiling woman over 60 welcomes me with a good-natured look through her frames. The wood stove is booming and through the glass I see the playful flames darting up and then seemingly safely resting. I talk to her, she comes out following me around smiling, telling me that the Church Administration have applied for funding to restore the temple. I am told the church has never been restored ever since it was built and that the need is acute as the fence and other parts have begun to crumble.

I look at the murals and the painted glass windows, seeing the oozing light streaming through the dome and am engulfed in colour and tranquility. We exchange a few more words about the present and its people, us including, too busy to deny cultural values that uphold them, if only in churches. And yet, when she asks where I come from and what I do for a living, I see her genuine kindness. She’s an optimist. So am I.

Read more about the Church of St. Petka–Paraskeva here. Part of the materials for this article was provided by the Regional Museum of History in Rousse. See below a few more photos of the Church.

The photos in the article are owned by this website.

Kamen Donev

kamen2I wish I could tell you something you haven’t read about Kamen Donev; or that he himself has not communicated about his personality through the wording of his performances, through the dances and choreography he creates, or the irony and patented sense of humor he exhibits, all of which reveal a sincere love for Bulgaria, its past and present, people and traditions.

Kamen Donev is an actor, director, playwright, and choreographer. Born in Rousse, he graduated from the class of Krikor Azaryan and Todor Kolev—two names much famous in Bulgaria—at the National Theatre Academy. He participates in “The Street” blockbuster comedy series directed by Tedi Moskov together with Maya Novoselska, Krastio Lafazanov and many other favourites of the Bulgarian audience. kamen4 His father, Ivan Donev, was the founder of Naiden Kirov Folk Dance Theater in Rousse, and its director and choreographer until his death in 2012. Since then, Kamen Donev is also Chief Artistic Director of the ensemble. He has won numerous national and international awards in his career so far, including Ikar and Maxim. He has written a book, has worked abroad, but returned to Bulgaria, where he lives with his family today.

In recent years his success is all the more sweeping because of the performances he writes, directs, and performs such as “The Views of a Teacher on the Folk Art,” “The Views of a Teacher on the Common Instruction” and others. At the end of 2015 his performance “On the Weddings” attracted 12,000 spectators at Arena Armeets Hall in Sofia, which is a record attendance at a theatrical production for the country. He also authors skits that are published on the http://shvargalo.com/ website.

If you succeed in digging up tickets for any of his productions scheduled for 2 or even 3 months ahead and go watch it, prepare yourself for a storm of emotions. Kamen Donev is an exceptional improviser who can make you cry with laughter – and that’s no exaggeration. Even when it comes to a line said many a time, it is performed as if it’s just been thought of and said out loud for the first time and with the sincere desire to be immediately shared with you. His performances are a colorful palette of dance and choreography in which he also invites guests to perform – singers and musicians such as the Boban and Marko Markovic’s Orchestra in “On the Weddings”. kamen1 A spectacle of folklore music and dances, accompanied by his mocking viewpoint, and combined with his explosive sense of humor are the signature of the artist Kamen Donev, with which he creates a unique insight into and of the performing arts in Bulgaria.

His interviews with have shown to a yet greater extent his sarcasm and harsh outlook on pressing social issues. I’ve seen him taking part in some of the protests two years ago. I’m far from limiting his rich personality within chauvinistic frames, but it’s exactly during these interviews that I cannot help but notice the “typical” traits of character people from Rousse exhibit: he is outspoken, calling a spade a spade, with an assertive and uncompromising opinion and an active citizenship standpoint – a noncommercial perceptivity of a nonconventional personality.

Read more about Kamen Donev here and here.

The photos in the article are not owned by this website.

Leon Daniel

leon2“Look at me. I am you.”

If someone had asked me a day before whose these words were, I would have immediately answered that “I am you.” are the emblematic words of a quick-tempered and sarcastic Beckstrom, the Swedish criminologist from my favorite crime TV series. He uses them to provoke suspects to admit to their crimes by speaking on their behalf as if he was in their heads and saw what they had done.

These words, however, belong to Leon Daniel. They remain his signature in the memories of some actors whose talent he encouraged on stagein an equally eccentric way as the Swedish Beckstrom encourages the intuition for investigation.

leon4Leon Avram Daniel a is Bulgarian stage director of Jewish origin, born in Rousse. He graduated from the State Theatre Institute in St. Petersburg, Russia, known as Leningrad and the Soviet Union respectively back then. He started his career at Drama Theatre in Rousse until 1957 when he moved to Bourgas and spent the next three years there.

Despite having been exposed to Russian influence, Leon Daniel asserted his creative ideas and became known as opposing the communist government. It was in Bourgas when together with three other stage directors at the Bourgass Theatre, he formed the so called The Great Four. During the Communist regime in the late ‘60s they staged for the first time authors such as Brecht, Dürrenmatt, Mrozhek and Sartre whose plays were not allowed in Bulgaria at the time. In this way, The Great Four created a new stage language that opposed the canon of socialist realism speech on stage.

Critics define his work as a whole epoch in the development of the national theatrical art: “The theater of Leon Daniel is he himself, his own personality. He created a school and was a remarkable pedagogue without teaching at the National Theatre Academy. He was relocated for his ideas were challenging the regime and moved from theatre to theatre in the country and yet he indisputably remained a person that stood up for talent and the values of art. ”

leon1Next, he worked at the National Radio, the Bulgarian Army Theatre, Sofia Theatre, and many others. He was the director of one movie and three documentaries. He received numerous awards at international and national stage contests including an honorary Ikar for overall activity and Askeer for overall contribution to performing arts. He wrote papers, publications, and books. The play “Pygmalion” by G. B. Shaw which he directed is being performed in Sofia for a 10th consecutive year.

He is the father of the Bulgarian painter Andrei Daniel and the grandfather of the Bulgarian writer Ida Daniel. He died in Sofia in 2008. Among his favorite actors and friends who share his artistic ideas, are Yosif Sarchadjiegv, Iliya Dobrev and others.

Sources:
1. http://alef-bg.org/
2. http://bnr.bg/
3. http://www.capital.bg/

The photos in the article are not owned by this website.

March Music Days Festival

didie-lokwoodWhen the March Music Days Festival was first held in Rousse in 1961, hardly did anyone imagine that 55 years later the city would still be the venue to attract international jazz and classic music performers every March for two weeks.

The March Music Days Festival is one of the oldest and most recognized festival stages in Bulgaria. Ever since its beginning, it has taken place annually in March and hosted some of the world’s most famous artists, such as Dmitri Shostakovich and Max Richter, among some of the renowned orchestras like the Bucarest Philharmonic Orchestra, the St. Peterburg Philharmonic Orchestra, the Prague Philharmonia and many others. koeran-quartetThe Festival presents young talented musicians from around the world and promotes the role of music in cultivating and sustaining culture and respect for art.

The Festival has been awarded the international European Festival Label (EFFE Label) by the European Commission and the Europe for Festivals Association for the years 2015 and 2016. The program for this year’s March Music Days Festival is quite rich as it features, for a second year in a row, a Junior edition, intended for children, as well as a number of cultural events at the Art Gallery and other places, which accompany the main music program. junior
Among the participants in 2016 are the Academy of Ancient Music, the Romanian National Symphony Orchestra, Gli Accordati, the Czech Philharmonic Collegium, the Rousse Philharmonic Orchestra and others.

Check our Events page to see the program of the March Music Days.

Read more about the March Music Days Festival here and go to their official Facebook page.

To get the feel, listen to some of the previous years’ performances as well.

The photos in the article are not owned by this website.

2019 European Capital of Culture Candidate

sand4 As you may already know, the European Capital of Culture is a city, designated by the European Union for a period of one calendar year, during which it organizes a series of cultural events with a strong European dimension. Preparing a European Capital of Culture can be an opportunity for the city to generate considerable cultural, social and economic benefits and it can help foster urban regeneration, change the city’s image and raise its visibility and profile on an international scale. (Source: Wikipedia).

Rousse was one of the contestants from Bulgaria, respectively Europe, during the latest competition that took place last year (2015), and challenged other participants under its “Rousse – City of the Free Spirit” representative leitmotif. The Free Spirit City Municipal Foundation was found. It desired to further promote a broad cultural spectrum of events in the city and encourage young talents. As a result, in 2015 the Foundation organized about 150 cultural and art events, supported 5 talented children and 10 creative teams from Ruse, established partnerships with local businesses and received a number of donations to the aim of imposing wider social effects and strong recognition of the cause. vintage-car2

I am not quite enthusiastic to admit that the city where, according to the state officials, the free spirit resides, lost the battle, but you know—life’s a motley crew of possibilities! In a nutshell, Rousse didn’t pass the first round of nominations and in the end Plovdiv, another great Bulgarian city, was pronounced the final winner, but… that’s another story. However, the contest participation itself brought about new events in Rousse, such as the 2015 Green Rock Fest featuring the legendary rock band Nazareth, the International Sand Sculpture Festival, the First Vintage Car Parade, and the International Ice Sculpture Festival.

Watch the official video that represented the city at the international community here.

Read more about the topic here and on the official Facebook page here.

Below are some photos from the major cultural events in Rousse held in 2015 while the city was aiming to become the 2019 European Capital of Culture.

The photos in the article are not owned by this website.

Buddha House Café-Library

Author’s note: since 2018, the Buddha House Café-Library has been closed and by 14 January 2019 the location where it used to be is not functioning. However, we decided to leave the article because we wanted you to get an idea why this was one of our and many other people’s favourite place in the city, because we hope that a similar place will soon be again opened to provide the same cozy ambience for creative work and reflection, for meeting friends, for holding presentations and for attending enjoyable jazz and soul music concerts.

bh-1 One of the coziest places I have recently been to in Ruse is the Buddha House café-library. Actually, by the name Buddha House there are four enterprises: the café-library and its adjoining culture club, which I personally regard as one whole, the restaurant, and the spiritual centre. All of them are located at the same address and share a very warm and welcoming atmosphere that can charge your batteries regardless of the time of day. Once you find yourself in front of the door and push on its heavy door-handle, you already feel at home. bh-6

Light-coloured wooden bookshelves on the right, unassuming bar tables, sugar bowls of brown sugar, an appealing barista with warm almond eyes strike the first impression you get – and the most unforgettable one. The home-made lemonade and fragrant cappuccino mark the time as a late Saturday morning that can be any time at any place of the world. Take any of the hard covers from the shelf, lean back on the chair and immerse into the plot having the BH radio music as a background.

This threesome project was established by the owner of Econt Express.

Find more bh-4about the café-library on their Facebook page and on foursquare.

Read on about the restaurant here.

Learn more about the spiritual centre here or buy some literature from here.

And if you want to listen to some really good stuff, go to the BH Radio online.

Here are some photos I made of this inspiring place where you can while the day away together with friends as well as spend the working hours in a creative atmosphere.

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The photos in the article are not owned by this website.