Petko Staynov

composer, pianist, conductor, publicist, musical public figure

01.12.1896 – 25.06.1977Kazanlak – Bulgaria

Petko Staynov belongs to the second generation of Bulgarian composers. He was among the founding members of the Contemporary Music Society in 1933 (which later became the Union of Bulgarian Composers) and its President up to 1944. At the age of 11 he lost the sight of both eyes and enrolled in the newly inaugurated (in 1905) Institute for Blind People in Sofia where he studied Flute with Dimitar Hadjigeorgiev and N. Stefanov, Violin with Schwertner and Harmony with Kraus. He also studied Piano with M. Bachvarova. In 1912 he began studying Piano with Professor Andrey Stoyanov and was actively involved with the choir and orchestra of the Institute led by Mihail Shekerdjiev and Nikola Stefanov. He studied the Brail Script for blind people in Bulgarian and in German and used it all his life. He graduated from the Institute in 1915 and returned to Kazanlak, where he organized and conducted a choir, performed as a pianist and composed his first works. He completed his higher education in Germany at the private music college of Dr. Menke and the private Rosanowski Conservatoire in Braunschweig (1920-21), as well as at the Dresden Conservatoire majoring in Composition under Alexander Wolf and in Piano under E. Munch. He graduated in 1923 and gave piano concerts in Germany. In 1924 he returned to Kazanlak and organised an amateur operetta theatre. He became member of the Society of Bulgarian Blind People (later renamed to Union of Blind People in Bulgaria), toured as a pianist all over the country, joined the Music Society in the town and formed a choir and orchestra, which played under his baton. In 1927 he and his family moved to Sofia. From 1927 to 1941 he taught Piano at the Institute for Blind People. For a while he was President of the Sofia choirs Gusla and Rodna Pesen. He was actively involved with the Contemporary Music Society. In 1940 he was elected full member of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and Arts after a report-proposition by Dobri Hristov. The Tsar appointed him Director of the National Opera, Deputy Director of the National Theatre and President of the State Philharmonic. He held these posts up to 1944. After 1944 he served as counsellor on music at the Ministry of Information and Propaganda (1945-48); counsellor 1st degree on music at the Committee for Science, Art and Culture (from 1946); Director of the Institute for Music (the today’s Music Department at the Institute of Art Studies) at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (from 1948 to the end of his life). He was awarded the highest prizes. His symphony works are connected with the traditional melody and rhythm.

He composed two symphonies, two symphony dances, two symphony poems and other concert pieces; choral songs and ballads; chamber-instrumental works, etc. He consolidated the genre of the choral ballad a capella in Bulgarian music. His choral songs like “”De bre, Dimo”” or “”Izgreyalo e yasno slantze”” (Bright Sun Is Shining) are among the most frequently performed repertoire pieces of the Bulgarian musicians in Bulgaria and abroad. His Thracian Dances premiered on 4 January 1927 by the Bulgarian Popular Philharmonic conducted by Todor Hadjiev, became emblematic of Bulgarian music.

A number of articles of his dedicated to Bulgarian music, musical culture and music style topics were collected and published as electronic archives.

Website: Electronic archives

Website: Petko Staynov Fondation


Works for symphony orchestra:

Symphony N1 (1945); Symphony N2 (1949).

Symphonic suites:

Thracian Dances (1925); Fairytale (1930).

Symphonic poems:
Legend (1927); Thrace (1937); Concert overture Balkan (1936); Symphonic Scherzo (1938); Youth Concert Overture (1953).

Choral songs:
For mixed choir:

Tragnala Liliana (Liliana Came Out) – medley (1915);
San sanuvah (I Dreamed a Dream) for solo tenor and mixed choir, on a poem by Peyo Yavorov (1919);
Pusti Dimo; De bre Dimo; Zasviri Dimo, on poems by Kiril Hristov (1928);
Izgreyalo Yasno slantze (Bright Sun Is Shining) (1930);
Two Christmas Songs (1930);
Fatherland, lyrics by S. Poptonev (1957);
My Fatherland, lyrics by I. Bovnev (1961).

Urvitch, on a poem by Nikola Rakitin (1934);
Buyna Vita (Momini jalbi) (Turbulent Vita River (Maiden’s Sorrow), on a poem by Trifon Kunev (1936);
Kum German, lyrics by D. Panteleev (1953);
Comrade Anton, lyrics by Ivan Radoev (1954)

For male voices choir:

Taynata na Struma (The Secret of Struma), on a poem by Theodor Trayanov (1932) – ballad;
Horsemen, on a poem by Nikola Furnadjiev (1933);
Sto dvadeset dushi (A Hundred and Twenty Men Were They), on a poem by Pencho Slaveykov (1934).

For female voices choir:

Ela se vie, previva (Fir-tree Is Winding), lyrics by Trifon Kunev (1931);
Three Paths, lyrics by P. Lalovski (1961).

For children’s choir:

Christmas Dance (1929).

Selected literature by/for him (in Bulgarian):
“Petko Stainov on Bulgarian musical culture” (S., 1967).

Krastev, Venelin. “Petko Stainov” (S., 1957).