Pancho Vladigerov

composer, conductor

13.03.1899 – 8.09.1978Zurich – Switzerland

Pancho Vladigerov belongs to the second generation of Bulgarian composers. He was among the founding members of the Bulgarian Contemporary Music Society (1933), which later became the Union of Bulgarian Composers. He marked the beginning of a number of genres in Bulgarian music. He also established the Bulgarian composition and pedagogical school, his students including the best Bulgarian composers of the next generation. The pianist Alexis Weissenberg was his student, too. Vladigerov was born in Switzerland, but lived in Shumen. He played the piano and composed since early age. He was 10 when he started studying composition with Dobri Hristov in Sofia. After his father’s death in 1912, he moved to Berlin with his mother and his twin brother (the violinist Luben Vladigerov), where he enrolled at the Staatliche Akademische Hochschule for Musik and studied music theory and composition with Professor Paul Juon and the piano with H. Barth. In 1920 he graduated from the Academie der Konste having studied composition with Professor Gernsheim and Professor Georg Schumann. He won twice the Mendelssohn Prize of the Academy (in 1918 and 1920). He worked for Max Reinhardt at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin as a composer and pianist (1920-32) before returning to Sofia where he was appointed reader and then Professor (from 1940) of Piano, Chamber Music and Composition at the State Academy of Music, which after his death was named after himself.

He composed a lot in a variety of genres. He is author of an opera; ballet; symphony music; five piano concertos; two violin concertos; chamber music; 38 transcriptions of instrumental pieces for instrument and piano; 50 folksong concert arrangements for voice and piano/orchestra; 20 songs for voice and piano; 10 choral songs with piano/orchestral; music to the theatre performances of the Deutsches Theater in Berlin, the Theater in der Josefstadt in Vienna, the National Theatre in Sofia, etc. The world got acquainted with Pancho Vladigerov’s work in the 1920s when his pieces were published by the Universal Edition Publishers in Vienna and were released on LP by the German recording company Deutsche Gramophon before being performed throughout Europe and the USA. As a pianist and composer he toured most of the European countries performing his own works. In 1969 he was awarded the Gottfried von Herder Prize. Now a national and international competition for pianists and violinists held in Shumen has his name. The Bulgarian recording company Balkanton released an edition of his stage and symphony music in four sets of seven LPs each. Several works of his such as the Bulgarian Rhapsody “Vardar” for instance are considered to be emblematic of the Bulgarian music.


Stage music:
Tsar Kaloyan, op.30 (1936, Sofia).
Legend of the Lake, op.40 (1946, staged in 1962 in Sofia).

Works for symphony orchestra:
Symphony N1, op.33 (1939);
Symphonic Legend, op.8 (1919);
Three Impressions from op.9 (1920);
Scandinavian Suite The Dance of Death, op.13 (1924);
Bulgarian Rhapsody Vardar, op.16 (1922, orchestrated in 1928);
Six Exotic Preludes, op.17;
Bulgarian Suite, op.21 (1927);
Seven Symphonic Bulgarian Dances, op.23 (1931);
Overture “Land”, op.27 (1933);
Improvisation and Toccata from op.36;
Overture “The Ninth of September”, op.45 (1949);
Horo Staccato (Chain Dance Staccato) (in collaboration with Diniku) (1942);
First and Second Suite from the ballet The Legend of the Lake, op.40 (1947, 1953);
Hebrew Poem, op.47 (1951);
Dramatic Poem “Song about Peace”, op.52 (1956);
Six Novelettes from op.59 and op.60;
Lyulin Impressions Suite, op.63 (1972) and others.

Piano concertos:
Concerto N1 (1918);
Concerto N2 (1930);
Concerto N3 (1937);
Concerto N4 (1953);
Concerto N5 (1963).

For violin and orchestra:
Concerto N1, op.11 (1921);
Concerto N2, op.61 (1968);
Burlesque, op.14 (1922);
Bulgarian Rhapsody Vardar, op.16 (1922, transcribed in 1951) and others.

For string orchestra:
Symphony N2 “May”, op.44 (1949).

For chamber orchestra:
Bulgarian Songs and Dances, (1932);
Aquarelles, (1942);
Divertimento (1943).

Vladigerovs own transcriptions of his piano pieces for orchestra.

Chamber Music:
String Quartet, op.34 (1940);
Piano Trio, op.4 (1916);
String Quartet, Op. 34 (1940).

For piano:
over 100 pieces, among them:
Sonatina Concertante, op.29 (1934);

The cycles:
Ten Impressions, op. 9 (1920);
Bulgarian Songs and Dances, op.25 (1932);
Shumen Miniatures, op.29 (1934);
Episodes, op.36 (1941);
Aquarelles, op.37 (1942);
Pictures, op.46 (1950);
Suite of Five Pieces, op.51 (1954);
Novelettes, op.59 (1964), etc.

For violin and piano:
Poem and In Traditional Style, op.7 (1919);
Bulgarian Rhapsody “Vardar”, op.16 (1922);
Two Bulgarian Paraphrases (Horo (chain dance) and Rachenitza), op.18 (1925); over 30 author’s transcriptions of pieces for piano.

For two pianos:
14 Vladigerov’s own transcriptions of his piano works and orchestral pieces.

For other instruments with piano:
38 author’s transcriptions of instrumental pieces.

Folksong concert arrangements for voice and piano/orchestra: over 50.

Solo songs with piano:

Choral songs with piano or orchestra:

Music for productions:
The Deutches Theater in Berlin; The Theater in der Josefstadt in Vienna; The Ivan Vazov National Theatre in Sofia.

Selected literature on him (in Bulgarian):
Sagaev, Lubomir. Pancho Vladigerov (Sofia, 1952);
Klosterman, Evgeni Pavlov. Pancho Vladigerov (Sofia, 1961, 2000);
Lazarov, Stefan. Pancho Vladigerov and the Theatre (Sofia, 1976);
Avramov, Evgenii. Harmony of Pancho Vladigerov (Sofia, 1976);
Boyadjieva, Vessela. Linear Trends in Pancho Vladigerov’s Piano Music and the European Situation at the Beginning of the 20th Century (Sofia, 2003).