Konstantin Iliev

KONSTANTIN ILIEV (March 9th , 1924 – March 6th , 1988)

A leading figure of the Bulgarian musical avant-garde, a colossus in the art of conducting, a talented educator, a publicist with a bright, sharp pen – the world of creativity of this titan of Bulgarian culture is immeasurable. Few are the people today who remember the impact of his magnetic presence on the concert podium or in the academic audience, the lively encounters with his music, with his personality. For the young generations of the present day, he is a mythical figure from the distant years of the last century, his creative innovation perceived only as part of our musical history. And yet it seems that the role of his presence in our spiritual treasury has not been fully comprehended, nor has his compositional legacy been fully explored. Konstantin Iliev’s complex creative and life destiny is unique, but also indicative of the times he lived in.

After graduating from the State Academy of Music in the violin classes of Vladimir Avramov, in composition of Pancho Vladigerov and in conducting of Marin Goleminov, he specialised at the Prague Conservatoire – conducting under      Václav Talich and composition under Jaroslav Rždki, he also attended the lectures of Alois Habba, the founder of quarter-tone composition. His conducting career, which began in 1947 in Ruse, where he founded the Symphony Orchestra and the Opera House, continued with the Varna Symphony Orchestra, to pass from 1956 almost three decades (with interruptions) in work devoted to the flowering of the Sofia Philharmonic. Under his baton, the repertoire and the boundaries of interpretive aesthetics expanded, and the sound environment itself changed. With the first performances of masterpieces by Honegger, Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Berg, Britten, Lutoslawski, Martin, Jolivet, Poulenc and the original concertos by Messiaen, Penderecki, Shostakovich and many others, with the participation of the composers themselves, the Bulgarian audience discovered the modern European musical world. And also avant-garde opuses by Lazar Nikolov, Georgi Tutev, Yordan Dafov, Simeon Pironkoff, Ivan Spasov, Vassil Kazandjiev. At the same time, Konstantin Iliev and the Sofia Philharmonic have made Bulgarian art widely known around the world with over 60 major tours in famous centres of Europe, Asia, America.

Along with that Konstantin Iliev built a host of talented conductors, as a professor in conducting at the Academy of Music, made recordings, founded the Festival of Chamber Music in Dobrich, wrote the books “Lyubomir Pipkov”, “Lazar Nikolov”, “Word and Deed”, numerous articles. And kept composuing!

A composer of radical innovative thinking, he created dozens of standard opuses in all genres – six symphonies, Fragments, The Eyes of the Night, In memoriam and many other orchestral works, a violin concerto, the operas The Boyana Master and The Deer Kingdom, vocal and orchestral works, including A eulogy for Constantine the philosopher, called Cyril, Poem for the dead dedicated to the living, Christmas, seven Tempi Soncertati for various chamber ensembles, quartets, sonatas, solo instrumental pieces, choral and vocal music, music for feature films. In the dark time of denial of the Bulgarian avant-garde, each of his new works was met with a sharply negative reception by the official critics, and at the same time their premieres became memorable culminations for the freethinking cultural circles. His works have been heard in many European countries, at the forums for new music – in Witten, Warsaw Autumn, Prague Spring, and their recordings have been broadcast by radio in the major European capitals.

The three opuses from Konstantin Iliev’s particularly intense creative years included in tonight’s programme reveal his affinity for the traditional national musical idiom, interpreted with various contemporary compositional devices. As well as his preference for the poetry of Assen Raztsvetnikov, which he repeatedly attracted him. Like a number of his other choral works, these song cycles remain among the most widely popular of his oeuvre, in the repertoire of our celebrated choral ensembles, often performed both at home and abroad. The four-part “RURAL SONG”, under the baton of Georgi Robev with the Bulgarian Choral Chapel “Svetoslav Obretenov”, was recorded at Radio Sofia. The five songs “SEDENKARSKI PESNI”, composed for the Rodina Choir and Vasil Arnaudov, were first performed by them in December 1971. And the cantata “THE FOREST AND THE BIRDS”, written without lyrics, with interesting sonorities, was premiered under the baton of Dragomir Yosifov with the Vasil Arnaudov Choir at the “March Music Days” in Ruse in 1994.


Past events

04.03.1984 Матине
19.01.1984 Концерт
15.01.1984 Матине
03.04.1983 Матине
16.01.1982 Концерт
17.12.1981 Концерт
28.02.1980 Концерт
12.04.1979 Концерт
12.10.1978 Концерт
13.04.1978 Концерт
23.02.1978 Концерт

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