Filip Koutev

Filip Koutev

13.VІ.1903 - 27.ХІ.1982

Aytos - Bulgaria

composer, conductor, public figure

Philip Koutev belongs to the second generation of Bulgarian composers. In 1936 he joined the Contemporary Music Society. He studied Violin under Hans Koch, a Czech pedagogue, first violin of the Sofia Opera and lecturer at the State Academy of Music. He graduated from the State Academy of Music in 1929 majoring in Violin under Todor Torchanov. He also studied Composition with Professor Assen Dimitrov. As a pupil and student, he was employed at the Higher Institute of Agriculture, then at the orchestra of the First Infantry Regiment, the orchestra of the Artillery Cinema, the Ufa Cinema and the Academic Symphony Orchestra. Urged by Maestro Georgi Atanassov, in 1930 he received a bandmaster qualification and began working in the army. The same year he was appointed at the 24th Infantry Regiment in Burgas at the position that had remained vacant after Shagunov, and worked there until 1935. In Burgas he also conducted the amateur orchestra of the music society Rodni zvutzi. In 1935 he moved to Sofia and worked at the 6th Infantry Regiment (1935-39), the School for Officers of the Reserve (1939-42) and the Military School (1942-44). From 1944 to 1948 he worked at the Political Department of the Bulgarian Ministry of Defence. He was responsible for the music activities in the army and for the cultural activities at the Central House of the Bulgarian National Army in Sofia (1948-51). In 1951, together with his wife Maria Kouteva, he founded the State Ensemble for Traditional Song and Dance (the today’s Philip Koutev National Folklore Ensemble), with which he set the beginning of the Traditional Music Choirs and Ensembles movement. He remained the ensemble’s Chief Artistic Director to the end of his life and contributed to its brilliant professionalism and its worldwide fame. The ensemble toured Europe, Asia and America.

He chaired the Union of Bulgarian Composers (1954-72). He was awarded a lot of prestigious prizes and State orders.

He composed works for symphony orchestra; songs for traditional music choir, mass and concert choral songs; film music, etc. He composed for the State Ensemble for Traditional Song and Dance works based on Bulgarian traditional tunes, which are still considered masterpieces and serve as a model to other composers who make such arrangements. His symphonic works created in the 1930s and 1940s such as the symphonic poem German, the Sakar Suite, the Pastoral for flute and orchestra or his vocal-instrumental suites, as well as those written after 1944 like the heroic cantata The Ninth of September (the first one in the contemporary Bulgarian music), Symphony of Youth or the masterpieces for traditional music choir Lale li si, ziumbiul li si; Polegnala e Todora; Dragana i slavei; Damianinka, etc., the music to the film Under the Yoke (after the novel by Ivan Vazov), etc, made his name as one of the most strikingly original Bulgarian composers.

Works

Choral-orchestral:

Ballad:

The Bell Tolls, after Ivan Vazov (1929); Lazarska Suite (1938); The Ninth of September Cantata, lyrics by Bogomil Raynov (1946).

For symphony orchestra:

Scherzo (1928); Bulgarian Rhapsody (1938, originally written for wind orchestra, 1937); Sakar Suite, symphony music to the poem September by Geo Milev (1940); German Symphonic Poem (1940; staged at the National Theatre); Pastoral for flute and orchestra (1943); Symphony of Youth (1949); Five Symphonic Dances (1952).

Suites for solo and chamber orchestra:

From Sredna Gora (1937); From North-western Bulgaria (1038), From East Thrace (1938).

Chamber music:

Wind Quartet (1930).

Little Piece for violoncello and piano (1945); Two Little Pieces for clarinet and French horn (1948).

Songs for traditional music choir:

Draganka and the Nightingale; Aide suntze zaide (The Sun Went Down); Dva sia zmiiki biyat (Two Snakes Are Fighting); Zakukala e kukuvitsa (A Cuckoo Is Calling); Stani mi maicho, otkachi; Prehvraknala ptichka (A Bird Flew Over); Zamraknala e Yana (Yana Was Benighted); Polegnala e Tudora (Tudora Lay Down for a While); Dai si, Vase, rachichkata (Give Me Your Hand, Vaza); Dimnianinka; Dona na porti sedeshe (Dona Was Standing at the Gate); Kazhi, kazhi, agnio (Tell Me, My Lamb); Chereshitza rod rodila (The Cherry Tree Bore Fruit), etc.

For traditional music orchestra:

Trite pati (The Three Times) (1951); Shopp Suite (1952); Thracian Wedding (1961); Concertino for solo kaval and orchestra (1962).

Music to the films:

Under the Yoke, directed by S. Vasilev (1952); The Heroes at the Shipka (1954, in co-authorship with N. Kryukov); Troubled Road, directed by D. Dakovski (1955); Sly Peter, directed by S. Sarchadjiev (1960).

Selected literature on him (in Bulgarian):

Stoyanov, Stoyan. Philip Koutev (Sofia, 1962); Kouteva, Maria. I Wish to Tell About Philip (Sofia, 1998).