Stefan Dragostinov

STEPHAN DRAGOSTINOV is a composer of world renown. He graduated from the theoretical department of the Leningrad Conservatory with the Second Symphony (1972) in the composition class of prof. Boris Arapov.

He has won first prizes at prestigious international composition competitions: the Gaudeamus in the Netherlands for the cantata The Fair (1978), the Karlheinz Stockhausen in Italy for the Concerto for Piano and Orchestra (1980), the Grand Prix of the Arthur Honegger Foundation – France for the Polytempi 3 (1982) cantata, Simon Bolivar – Venezuela for the Symphony-Monument (1984), Fernando Pessoa – Portugal for the Ode to the Sea (1986).

He is the author of 6 symphonies, including the famous Peace Symphony, commissioned by Rotary International as a symbol of unity for peace and understanding.

The Teatro de Bellas Artes in Maracaibo is where, on 21 February 1985, the Symphony had its world premiere under the baton of Eduardo Rán. The public response was incredible. Praises were received from heads of states all over the world, including Ronald Reagan, Konstantin Chernenko, François Mitterrand…

The press showered the work with superlatives:

“The respectful silence and the silent faces suggested that the audience was under a kind of hypnosis. Everyone was under the spell caused by Peace Symphony!… A great work!” (Newsp. Critica, Caracas, 23.02.1985.)

“The Peace Symphony captures the audience from the very beginning. The choral and symphonic structure leaves an irresistible impression that can be compared to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. The work calls attention to medieval chants, Slavic folk elements and references to Bulgarian folk tradition” (Prof. Helena Sassone, Panorama, 2 March 1985).

A year later Peace Symphony was performed in the crowded Bulgaria Hall in Sofia under the baton of Ivan Marinov.

The pages of the specialised culture press read: “The scale of the Peace Symphony and its humanistic pathos have captivated everyone… The bold inclusion of Mnogaya Leta in a work with a bright contemporary idea speaks not only of the artistic reinterpretation of the heritage, but also of its direct subservience to our day. This is no longer just music, but a position! Thanks to Dragostinov, the ancient Beatitudes have acquired a new meaning, transformed from a voice to God into a voice to the people. Peace was given another Bulgarian song for the world to hear! (Stefan Prodev, Narodna Kultura weekly, February 7, 1986)

Stefan Dragostinov’s art is open to all genres – from monumental symphonic canvases to vocal miniatures and clip-mimes in advertising. He is the composer of the Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, Concerto for Bass Clarinet, Concerto for French Horn, dozens of chamber works, instrumental sonatas, theatre and film scores, over five hundred choral and solo songs. A special niche in his work in the 1970s and 1980s – and to this day – is open to his avant-garde creative explorations of contemporary polytemporal sound processes in music, embodied in his choral cantatas Polytempi 1 & 3, which brought him his first high international awards and accolades.

In his works he achieves a masterful combination of national traditions with contemporary compositional techniques. In the summer of 1981, at the Traditional International Festival in Bergamo, after the premiere of Polytempi 4, the Corriere della Sera daily noted: ‘A modern and original work, deserving of the Grand Prix of the Stockhausen Competition…! At the same time, while appearing in the West, Stefan Dragostinov does not forget his roots!…”

His works have been performed all over the world: at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, at the Bolshoi Theatre, at the Warsaw Autumn, Moscow Autumn, Bergamo-Brescia, Gaudeamus, Bratislava Biennial, New Year Music Festival – Sofia, NDK Salon of Arts, Ruse March Music Days, Varna Summer, Sofia Music Weeks Festivals. Performers of his music are distinguished formations such as Ensemble Intercontemporain – France, RAI Symphony Orchestra – Milan, Choir and Orchestra of the Dutch Radio, Sofia Opera, Sofia Philharmonic, Choir and Orchestra of the Bulgarian National Radio, Varna Philharmonic Orchestra, National Venezuelan Orchestra – Caracas, Bellas Artes – Maracaibo Choir and Orchestra, dozens of choral formations from Bulgaria, Europe, America and Australia, as well as virtuosos such as Harry Spaarnay, Antonio Bachelli, Milena Mollova.

Until 1994 Stefan Dragostinov was the director of the Philip Kutev National Folklore Ensemble, which toured triumphantly all over the world, and in 1988 he recorded in Japan the first three CD-albums in the history of Philip Kutev with a circulation of 2 million copies.

An important highlight in his biography is the project Anthology of Bulgarian Folklore, which the composer has been carrying out consistently for 20 years together with the Dragostin Folk formation he founded. In his work, the national tradition is present as an occasion for creation of contemporary values with an authorial signature.

In 2007, the International World Music Committee in Korea announced its decision to award Stefan Dragostinov with the Academic title of World Master among artists nominated from all over the world For outstanding achievements in the field of traditional music. This international prize is awarded for Stefan Dragostinov’s overall activity in the field of research and development of the national musical tradition and for its preservation and continuation in the modern world without borders, for inclusion of the Bulgarian cultural identity to the world treasury of spiritual values.

Dragostinov is Professor of Composition, Orchestration, Theory and Contemporary Music Techniques at New Bulgarian University and lectures at prestigious academic and university societies worldwide.

In 2007 he founded a composition class at the Department of Music. Since then, his talented students Emmerich Ambil, Sara Kostadinovska, Danail Tanev, Valeriya Krachunova, Mina Efremova, and Desislava Georgieva have consistently won high honours at prestigious international competitions in Bulgaria and around the world.

“Triumph of the school of professor Stefan Dragostinov!” – this was the headline of Trud daily (13 April 2012) commenting on the remarkable creative successes of the students of New Bulgarian University:

“А winner of a string of the most prestigious awards himself, Professor Dragostinov has been called an “unmistakable sniper” for his string of first prizes at international competitions in the Netherlands, Italy, France, Venezuela and Portugal. Today, his talented students from New Bulgarian University continue his path unerringly!”.


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