Simeon Pironkov

composer, pedagogue

18.06.1927 – 25.01.2000Lom – Bulgaria

Simeon Pironkov graduated from the State Academy of Music in 1952 majoring in Composition under Professor Parashkev Hadjiev and Conducting under Professor Assen Dimitrov. While still a student, he was artistic director and conductor of the orchestra of the Youth Theatre. From 1964 to 1968 he was musical assistant at the Studio for Feature Films. From 1968 to 1980 he worked as a freelancer. In 1980 he joined the staff of the National Theatre and Film Art Academy teaching Musical Setting of the Performance. He lectured in the Cite des Arts in Paris (1982) and Los Angeles, USA (1990). He was Vice-President of the Union of Bulgarian Composers (1980-85). In 1990 he was among the founding members of the Bulgarian section of ISCM. From 1994 to the end of his life he was its President and also directed the annual international festival for contemporary music Musica Nova in Sofia. In 1992 he was elected President of the international competition for young opera singers Boris Christoff and President of the Boris Christoff Foundation.

He is among the most remarkable Bulgarian contemporary composers. His music is rich in original artistic godsends, full of expressiveness and fine music images. He was a prolific composer in a variety of genres.

He wrote three operas; an oratory; works for symphony, string and chamber orchestra; chamber instrumental and vocal music; choral music; music to 43 feature films, 25 cartoons, 36 science fiction and documentary films; 51 theater performances, 15 radio and TV performances, etc. His works were performed in almost all European countries and in the USA. They were included in programmes of international contemporary music festivals in Warsaw, Budapest, Berlin, Zagreb, Prague and Bratislava. They were published in Bulgaria, Germany and Japan.

He won many prestigious national awards.

In 1985 he was awarded the Gottfried von Herder Prize for total work.


Stage music:

The Good Person of Szechwan after Bertold Brecht (1965);
The Motley Bird (comic opera), to his own libretto (1979);
Oh, My Dream (lyrical comedy), to his own libretto (1985).

Vocal-orchestral/instrumental-ensemble works:

Socrates’ Real Apology for bass, percussion and strings after K. Varnalis (1967).
The Life and Suffering of the Sinful Sophronius for choir and orchestra (1976).

Works for symphony orchestra:

Night music (1968);
Bulgarian traditional dance “Petrunko” (1983);
Symphonic sketch based on a popular melody (1986);
Modern suite (1988);
Passacaglia (1991);
Bosnian lullaby (1993);
El Tango Variations (1996).

Music for two pianos and orchestra (1973).

Concerto Rustico for violoncello and orchestra (1982);
Concerto for flute and orchestra (1987);
Concerto for violin and orchestra (1989);
The Memory of a Piano (1995).

Works for chamber orchestra:

Ballet Music in Memory of Stravinsky (1972);
Chamber Symphony for 11 soloists (1990).

Works for string orchestra:

Symphony (1960);
Movements for 13 Strings (1967);
Requiem for an Unknown Young Man for 13 strings (1968);
Lyric Suite (1983);
Four capriccios by Paganini – transcription for string ensemble (1994).

Chamber Music:

String quartets: Quartet N1 (1951); Quartet N2 (1966); Quartet N3 (1985).

Trio for violin, viola and violoncello (1950);
Ecological trio for violin, clarinet and double bass (1987);
Sonatina for two violins (1951);
Four Episodes for French horn and piano (1975);
Introduction and Capriccioso for violoncello (1980);
Lullaby for clarinet and piano (1983);
Tema con variazioni per violino e pianoforte (1985).

Solo Violin Sonatas (1955);
Solo Oboe Sonatas (1956);

Three movements for harp (1992).

For piano:

Ten Variations on a Romantic Theme (1948);
Five pieces (Piano Suite) (1948);
Sixteen Preludes (1949);
Five pieces (1950);
Passacaglia for the Rise of a Moon (1980);
Children’s album (1983);
Sonatina for piano for four hands (1990).

For voice and chamber ensemble:

For female voice and chamber ensemble:
Two vocalises (1950);
Five songs (1952);
Two songs after poems by Veselin Hanchev (1962);
Songs about Life – cycle of seven songs after Emily Dickinson and Songs about Death – cycle of five songs after Emily Dickinson (both in English) (1989).

For female voice and piano:
Rural Festivities – cycle after lyrics by P. Karaangov (1975);
Two Songs after Bertold Brecht (in German) (1977).

Songs for female and male voice with piano after Bertold Brecht (1980).

For bass and chamber ensemble:
Saririkon – three songs after Ancient Greek poets (1971).

For baritone, piano and violoncello:
Fantasy after poetry of Heinrich Heine (1997).

Choral music:

For mixed choir:
Green Rain (1993).

For female voices choir:
Bright Rain (1963); Sing, Bird (1970); Gypsy Song (1971); 3 Songs (1976); I Want to Write a Song – cantata (1979).

For male voices choir:
At Parting – ballad (with percussion accompaniment) (1983).

Film music to:

On a Small Island, directed by R. Valchanov (1957);
We Were Young, directed by B. Zhelyazkova (1960);
The Inspector and the Night, directed by R. Valchanov (1963);
The Peach Thief, directed by V. Radev (1964);
The Black Angels, directed by V. Radev (1970);
Three Reservists, directed by Z. Heskia (1971);
The Big Night Bathe, directed by B. Zhelyazkova (1980);
Vasko da Gama from Rupcha Village, directed by D. Petrov (6-series TV film, 1986).

Selected books (published in Bulgarian):
On the Steps of Time (Sofia, 2000).

Selected literature on him (in Bulgarian):
Chronographical List of Works by Genre – in On the Steps of Time (compiled by Anda Palieva).