Vili Kazassian

Vili Kazassian

8.ХІІ.1934 - 12.VІІ.2008

Sofia - Bulgaria

composer, arranger, conductor, pianist

Willy Kazassian graduated from the Technical University in Sofia (1957). He also studied for four years at the Faculty of Music Theory, Composition and Conducting of the State Academy of Music. In 1953 he joined the Jazz of the Young Ensemble. At that time he composed his first orchestral pieces (The Green Street-Car) and made arrangements. Until the early 1960s he played in the light music orchestra of the Satire Theatre and was among the founding members of the Studio 5 Orchestra, an ensemble well known by its performances at BIAD where some of the future stars of the Bulgarian pop art made their first steps. In 1960 the two orchestras gave birth to the Big Band of the Bulgarian National Radio. In 1960 Kazassian was appointed pianist at the Big Band, later he became its second conductor and chief conductor. He held that post until 1998. He created the vocal groups Do Re Mi Fa and Studio 5; he also founded the radio competition for young singers Willy’s Tube, as well as the TV programme Studio 1. He contributed a lot to the organisation and development of The Golden Orpheus Festival and the TV competition Melody of the Year. He was guest conductor with the big bands in Leipzig, Berlin and Moscow and at the Festivals in Athens, Sopot (Poland), Bratislava, Dresden, etc. With the Big Band of the Bulgarian National Radio he toured Eastern Europe, Germany, Switzerland, Cuba, etc. He took part in jazz festivals in Bulgaria and abroad: in Sofia, Ruse, Gabrovo, Nish (Serbia), Zagreb (Croatia) (Jazz Fair, 1989), etc. In the 1990s he conducted mixed ensembles and was among the initiators of programmes, in which pop and opera singers performed together (Stefka Mineva, Rumen Doykov), actors sang songs from musicals, etc. In 1998 he founded The Big Band of Willy Kazassian, with which he has performed in concert and recorded arranged jazz masterpieces.

From 1985 to 1989 he chaired the Pop Music Section at the Union of Bulgarian Musicians and Dancers. He was awarded the institution’s Golden Lyre Prize in 1985. Since 2002 he has chaired the Musicautor Agency’s Managing Body.

He composed hundreds of songs and orchestral pieces for the Big Band. Besides well-known Bulgarian pop singers and ensembles, a number of actors like Kosta Tzonev, Violeta Bahchevanova, Todor Kolev, Asen Angelov, etc. performed his songs, too. Due to his conducting activity he did not take part in pop songs competitions as a composer. His total work won him the _Yossif Tzankov _Prize at The Golden Orpheus Festival in 1984. He composed music for children; film scores; music to theatre productions, radio and TV musicals, etc.; he also arranged hundreds of songs.

Works

Pop songs:

Da e vlyuben tozi svyat (This World in Love), lyrics by Borislavov, performed by Kamelia Todorova; Circus, lyrics by Mihail Belchev, performed by Bogdana Karadocheva and the FSB group; Funfair, lyrics by Zdravko Petrov, performed by Bogdana Karadocheva.

Orchestral music:

Carousel.

Children’s songs:

My Childhood, lyrics by Gudev, from the film Unexpected Holidays; Aunt March Was in a Hurry, lyrics by Stubel; Young Ones And Grownups, lyrics by Zdravko Petrov, performed by Hilda Kazassian and Todor Kolev; What A Fun, lyrics by Dochev; Fabrications; Funfair (Sweet-voiced Lark Festival, prize of the public, 1986), lyrics to both by Nikolaev; Displeased, lyrics by P. Alexandrova, performed by Asen Kisimov; Pipi Long Stocking, performed by Yordanka Hristova and the FSB Band; Song About Friendship from the film Yan Bibiyan; That’s Art, lyrics by Nedyalko Yordanov, performed by Todor Kolev.

Film music to:

Yan Bibiyan, directed by V. Apostolov (1984); Hot Traces (TV Series), directed by V. Mirchev (1985); Unexpected Holiday (TV series), directed by V. Mirchev.