Nikolay Kaufman

composer, ethnomusicologist

23.09.1925 – 26.03.2018Ruse – Bulgaria

Nikolai Kaufman graduated in 1952 from the State Academy of Music in Sofia majoring in both Theory of Music and Trumpet. From 1952 to 1988 he consecutively worked at the Institute of Art Studies and the Institute of Folklore Studies at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. In 1978 he was appointed professor at the State Academy of Music. In 1973 he received a Doctor of Art Study degree. He has been teaching at the Free University in Varna.

Kaufman is an internationally acclaimed folklorist. His folk music researches and his practice, which includes recordings of over 30,000 traditional songs and instrumental melodies, are fundamental to modern Bulgarian ethnomusicology. He is the author of books, collections and a number of articles and studies.

In 1977 he was elected corresponding member of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (1977). He was elected Academician in 2003. He was awarded the Marin Drinov Medal and the Paisi Hilendarsli Award by the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and Sofia University, as well as other national prizes for his contribution as scientist and artist. His music includes songs and instrumental works inspired from the traditional music.

He arranged over 1,000 Bulgarian and Jewish folksongs for choral and instrumental ensembles. He also wrote piano pieces, among which the Anthology of Bulgarian Metric Rhythms for piano in four volumes. His traditional song arrangements were included in the world-renowned album series Mystery of Bulgarian Voices produced by Marcel Cellier. The second album, which was awarded the Grammi Prize in 1990, included three choral songs by Kaufman. A CD called Portrait of Nikolai Kaufman, features a selection of his best works. The CD is released by Riva Sound and the songs included are performed by the ensembles The Mystery of Bulgarian Voices and Cosmic Voices of Bulgaria, and also by the choir of the Pirin Ensemble.


Zaspalo e chelebiyche (A Youngster Fell Asleep); Zlato mome (Zlato, Young Girl); Dunave, beli Dunave (Danube); Zaspala li si, Yagodo (Are You Sleeping, Yagoda); Oy peline.

Music to dance shows:
Momini dvori; Po jetva (Harvest Time); Kapanska Suite; Lazarska Suite; Turlashka Suite.

Choral songs for professional and children’s choir:
My Mother’s Songs (1993); Moma loze sadila (Young Girl Vine-grower); Rusi doshli (Russians Came); Zaro mome (Zara Maiden); Tzveto mome (Tzveta Maiden); Velo mome (Vela Maiden); Petruno, pile shareno; Petruna, My Sweetheart; Po dvor ti hodya (I Walk on the Yard); Happy Song; Horo tropvam (I Am Dancing).

Cycles of Jewish songs.

CD: A Portrait of Nikolai Kaufman (Riva Sound):
Dve pesni ot Chepinsko (Two Songs from Chepino Region); Bezrodna nevesta; Sefaradski evreiski pesni (Sefarad Jewish Songs) – triptych; La roza enflorese; A, seniora novia; Lamento; Dve pesni ot Pazardjishko (Two Songs from Pazardjik Region); Doniuva mama; Vgradena nevesta; Buenets ot Dobrudja; Postoi, pochakai, devoiche; Dve rodopski pesni (Two Songs from the Rhodope Region); Vchera si, maiko, otidoh; Sino le, balno li ti e?; Tri kontrastni pesni (Three Contrast Songs); Chereshko lio, kaplio lio; Zagukala i galabka; Guiko, iunache; Pirinska svatba; Yo, igra oro.

Selected books (published in Bulgarian):
Songs of the Bulgarian Workers’ Movement (Sofia, 1959);
The Bulgarian Polyphonic Folksong (Sofia, 1968);
Bulgarian Urban Songs (Sofia, 1968);
Bulgarian Wedding Songs (Sofia, 1976);
Funerary and Other Lamentation Songs in Bulgaria (in co-authorship with Dimitrina Kaufman) (1988);
Bulgarian Folk Ballads, vol. 1 and 2 (Sofia 1993, 1994);
1500 Bulgarian Urban Songs, Vol. 1, 2, 3 (Sofia, 2002);
Bulgarian Traditional Songs for Agriculture Activities (Sofia, 2002);
Two-voiced Songs from Nedelino (in co-authorship with Radka Bratanova) (Sofia, 2002), etc.

Selected literature on him (in Bulgarian):
Valev, Ivan and Milka Miladinova. Nikolai Kaufman. Bio-bibliographical Study (Sofia, 1986). “