Alexander Yossifov

composer, conductor, pedagogue

12.08.1940 – 25.11.2016Sofia - Bulgaria

Prof. Alexander Yossifov is an outstanding Bulgarian composer, conductor and music pedagogue. He was born on August 12, 1940 in Sofia and is a hereditary musician. His father is the composer and conductor Yossif Yossifov, who is one of the founders of the Staro Zagora and Varna operas, and his uncle is the world-famous tenor of the 1940s and 1950s – Iliya Yossifov.

After graduating from the music high school in Varna, Alexander Yossifov joined the Navy and at the same time began his experiments as a composer. There he wrote and dedicated a song to the first cosmonaut in the world, Yuri Gagarin, and during his visit to Bulgaria, he personally presented it to him. The song is still in the cosmonautics museum in Russia.
Alexander Yossifov graduated from higher musical education at the National Academy of Music in Sofia in the composition class of Prof. Pancho Vladigerov, opera-symphonic conducting with Prof. Konstantin Iliev and piano with Prof. Zheni Kovacheva. International recognition and a successful start to the career of Alexander Yossifov set the first prize for a composition, which he won at the age of 28 at a competition for symphonic works in Trieste (Italy) in 1968.

Prof. Alexander Yossifov is the author of a large-scale and stylistically diverse work – more than 1,500 opus in all musical genres. His 28 operas and ballets with 100 premieres and over 2,000 performances in Bulgaria and abroad are particularly popular. The opera “Han Krum Yuvigi” toured on the stage of the “Bolshoi Theater” with two performances and a concert performance of individual acts on the stages of the Staatsoper in Vienna and the Theater “Champs Elysees” – Paris in 1981.
The opera “Han Krum Yuvigi” was also staged on Tsarevets Hill, Veliko Tarnovo within the framework of the “Scene of the Ages” festival in 1989 and was filmed by the Bulgarian National Television.

In 1986, the ballet “Crusaders” based on the novel by Henryk Sienkiewicz premiered in Gdansk, Poland. This production toured many stages in European opera houses.

The composer’s children’s operas, which are over 10 and performed in all opera houses in Bulgaria, are particularly popular among the public.

In Gdańsk, Poland, the children’s opera “The Wonderful Adventures of Toshko Afrikanski” was also staged, and a record 437 performances were performed there for 5 seasons.

Prof. Alexander Yossifov is the author of 6 symphonies, 5 concertos for piano and orchestra, 3 concertos for violin and orchestra, a concerto for cello and orchestra, for kaval and orchestra, for flute and orchestra.

He is the author of 58 opuses for piano duo, which in recent years have brought him exceptional international recognition. A novelty in the world music literature are his “Cannon and Toccata” for two pianos with 16 hands, performed with great success in Japan, for which he received the “Special Prize” at the International Composition Competition in Tokyo in 1997. At the same competition in 1999 Alexander Yossifov won the Grand Prix “Kanebo” for “Prelude and Fugue” No. 2 for two piano duets.

Unique in form is his work “Symphony concertante” for two piano duos and an orchestra of 10 pianos (24 pianists – 48 hands), which had its world premiere at the “Metropolitan Art Space” hall in Tokyo, Japan in November 2000.

His work “Archaic Dance” for two pianos, 12 pianists – 24 hands was successfully performed at a festival in Bad Herrenalb, Germany in 2003 and on the stage of “Sayed Darwish Theatre” – Alexandria Opera House in Egypt in January 2011. and is featured on the Bolero Night CD.

The composer’s work also includes choral and children’s music, vocal songs, over 800 pop songs, over 300 arrangements of folk songs, original music for feature films and documentaries.

Prof. Alexander Yossifov is the winner of 20 international awards from composition competitions in Japan (4 times), Italy (2 times), Greece (2 times), Turkey, Russia, Germany, Slovakia, Poland, Yugoslavia and Bulgaria.

His works have been performed in concert, recorded for radio and television broadcasts and released on CD in these countries, as well as in Brazil, Austria, France, Switzerland, Portugal, Canada, Egypt, USA, etc.

Alexander Yossifov is a long-time professor at the “Pancho Vladigerov” National Music Academy and at the New Bulgarian University, with great merit in the field of music-educational activity.

As a teacher in the specialty “Opera singing with a conductor”, he has trained over 160 performers and opera singers, many of whom sing on the world’s opera stages.

Among his performances as a conductor are a concert with the Thessaloniki Philharmonic in 2000, an opera recital by Raina Kabaivanska with the Sofia Philharmonic in Bulgaria Hall, 2004, a concert with Anna Tomova-Sintova and her master class in Hall 1 of the National Palace of Culture, 2009 ., over 40 concerts with the Academic Symphony Orchestra of the National Academy of Music “P. Vladigerov”.

In 2009 and 2010, he held concerts with the students of opera singing from the New Bulgarian University in the “Bulgaria” chamber hall.

Alexander Yossifov is a knight of the “Honorary Cross for Services to the Republic of Austria”, the Honorary Cross for “Services to the Culture of Poland”, the Order of “Stara Planina” 1st degree, “Cyril and Methodius” 1st degree, etc.

He was the chairman of the National Council for Music at the Ministry of Culture. He is a member of the International Piano Duo Association based in Tokyo, Japan. He has been repeatedly invited as chairman and member of national and international music competitions. From 1987 to 1990, he was a member of the IMZ, Vienna.

Jury member of the Golden Rose Festival in Montreux, Switzerland. Prof. Alexander Yossifov is the chairman of the Opera Festival in Stara Zagora. He is a member of the Union of Bulgarian Composers.

President and co-founder of the Vienna Club at the Embassy of the Republic of Austria in Sofia, in which capacity he is an active supporter of the idea of including the Bulgarian creative environment to the best of the Austrian cultural tradition.

Administrative activity of Alexander Yossifov – Factology by years:

1968 – 1986 – general director of the gramophone company “Balkanton”;
1986 – 1989 – Deputy Chairman of the Committee for Television and Radio;
1989 – 1991 – Deputy Minister of Education;
1991 – 1993 – deputy director of the Sofia National Opera;
2000 – 2008 – successively dean of the vocal faculty and deputy rector of the National Music Academy “P. Vladigerov” – Sofia;
2006 – 2010 – Chairman of the Committee for Music and Arts at the Higher Attestation Commission.

The “Balkanton” period:

From 1968 to 1986, for 18 years, Alexander Yossifov was the general director of the Balkanton record company. In the repertoire and musical editions, he pursues a policy of reflecting the best achievements of Bulgarian musicians and makes recordings of works by world classics and contemporary Bulgarian composers.
The following series of records are particularly popular:

– a series of original records by all Bulgarian composers – over 100;
– Mahler set – symphonies performed by the Sofia Philharmonic with conductor Emil Tabakov;
– The quartets of Beethoven and Mozart performed by the Dimov Quartet;
– Verdi – “Requiem”, the operas “Aida”, “Carmen”, with Nikola Nikolov, Julia Viner, Alexandrina Milcheva, Nikola Gyuzelev and conductor Ivan Marinov;
– Mussorgsky – “Khovanshchyna” and “Boris Godunov” with Nikola Gyuzelev and conductor Ruslan Raichev;
– with Raina Kabaivanska – recordings of entire operas: “Tosca”, “Madame Butterfly”, “Manon Lescaut”, “Adriana Lecouvre”, “Francesca da Rimini”;
– opera recitals by Gena Dimitrova, Ana Tomova-Sintova, Nikolay Gyaurov, Nikola Gyuzelev, Stoyan Popov, Neli Bozhkova and many others. etc. – over 250 LPs;
– a series of gramophone records with the remarkable bass Boris Hristov – they are on the personal initiative of Yossifov, who helps to return Boris Hristov to Bulgaria and provides him with the opportunity to repeatedly make recordings in “Balkanton”. With Boris Hristov, a Church Slavonic liturgy and “Many Summers” were recorded with the choir of the Temple – monument “Alexander Nevsky”, Grechaninov – “Liturgy Domestica”, songs by Grechaninov, etc.;
– a series of recordings of Church Slavonic and Bulgarian music;
– an anthology of Bulgarian folklore;
– “The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices”, ensemble “Filip Kutev”, “Pirin”, etc.;
– series for children, recordings of fairy tales – over 100 titles;
– panorama of the Bulgarian choral art, etc.

In the direction of international trade, “Balkanton” under the leadership of Alexander Yossifov established contacts with some of the largest recording companies in the world and successfully distributed titles from the Balkanton catalog: the “EMI” company released Boris Hristov’s recordings and opera recitals, the “RCA” company “distributes all the operas with Raina Kabaivanska, Marcel Sellier publishes “The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices” worldwide, etc.

For the first time in Bulgaria, “Balkanton” releases a series of records with the masters of world jazz and buys licenses of Western European pop artists.


Stage music:
Operas and operettas:

Sailor’s Word – operetta (1965, Ruse);
Back to the Beginning – opera-oratorio (1976, Stara Zagora);
Khan Krum Yuvigi (1980, 1981 Sofia Opera, Bolshoi Theatre);
Golden Spear – comic opera (1982; 1983, Sofia, State Music Theatre);
Arco Iris (1983, 1984, Sofia Opera).

Children’s operas:

The Miraculous Adventures of Toshko from Africa (1981; 1982, Stara Zagora);
Robinson Crusoe (1982; 1985, Stara Zagora);
Misadventurers (1986; 1987, Sofia, National Palace of Culture);
With Big Brother Nikolay at the Zoo – TV musical (1986);
The Miraculous Adventures of Maya the Bee (1988; 1990, Sofia, National Palace of Culture);
Max and Moritz (1992);
The Miraculous Adventures of Pinocchio in the Unknown Town (1994); The Travel of Dr Doolitle in Far Africa (1998).


The Snow-white and The Seven Dwarfs, ballet for children (1997).
“Yurand of Spihov (Crusaders)” after H. Sienkiewicz (1986, Gdansk, Poland).

Choral-orchestral works:

For soloists, choir and symphony orchestra:

The Green Tree (1966);
The Big White Road (1970);
Back to the Beginning (1975).

For readers, soloists, choir, 2 piano duos, strings and percussion:

Towards the 21st Century (1998)

Works for symphony orchestra:

Symphony №1 (1968);
Symphony №2 (1969);
Symphony №3 for solo bass and symphony orchestra (1970);
Symphony №4 (1975);
Symphony №5 Proto-Bulgarians (1980);
Symphony №6 Polyphony (1992) (also in a version for chamber orchestra, 1992).
Symphony №7 (1992).


Revolution (1966);
Youth Overture (1975);
Children of Our Planet (1983);
Toccata (1992);
Pagane, the Priestess ballet music (2003).

Concertos for orchestra:

Symphony №1 (1978); Symphony №2 (1981).


Piano and symphony orchestra: Symphony №1 (1972); Symphony №2 (1976); Symphony №3 (1992); Symphony №4 (1998).

Violin and symphony orchestra: Symphony №1 (1979); Symphony №2 (1983).

Two pianos and symphony orchestra:

Symphony №1 (1973); Symphony №2 (1989).

Simphonie concertante for: violoncello and orchestra (1984);
Simphonie concertante for two piano duos and orchestra (1996); 40 hands (two piano duos and ten grand pianos) (2000).

Works for string orchestra:
Concerto (1984);
Simphony Breve (1988).
Prelude and Fugue: 1 (1997); 2 (1998); 3 (1999).

Concerto for piano duo and orchestra No. 2 (1992);
Concerto for violin, violoncello and orchestra (1993);
Concerto for flute and orchestra (1994);
Concerto for kaval and orchestra (1996);
Concerto for oboe and orchestra (1996).
Three concertinos for piano duo and orchestra.

Chamber Music:
For piano ensemble:

Canon and Toccata for two grand pianos for 16 hands (1997).
Simfonietta Antica for six hands (1996);
Happy Echo for six hands (1998).

For piano duo:

Prelude and Fugue: No. 1 (1997);
No. 2 for two piano duos (1997);
No. 3 (after Bach) (1998);
No. 4 Chromatic (1998);
No. 5 Phrygian, (1999);
No. 6 Archaic (1999).

Variations on Hubava si, moya goro (My Beautiful Forest) (1987);
Ballad (1988);
Eight concert pieces for two piano duos (1997);
Sonata (1998);
Fantasia concertante for left hand and piano duo (1988);
Eight Concert Pieces (1999);
Rondo-virtuoso BIS (1999);
Prelude “The Country of the Rising Sun” (1999).

For piano:

Sonata (1976);
Alphabet for the Youngest Pianists (52 pieces, 38 studies)(1988);
Rachenitza (1991);
Horo (1991);
Elegy (1991);
Pastoral (1991);
Proto-Bulgarian Dance (1991);
Impression (1991);
Country Dance (1991);
Toccata Virtuosa (1991).


For soprano and piano:

The Seasons of My Soul – cycle of 12 songs after poems by Eva Krist (1996).

For mezzo-soprano and piano:

Cycle of five Songs (1992).

For tenor and piano:

Ave Maria (1998); Probudna pesen (Awakening Song) for bass and piano after Hristo Yasenov (1999); To My Country, on a poem by Nikolay Liliev (1999).

For bass and piano:

Cycle of five songs (1993).

Music to the feature films:
The Dash, directed by Rashko Uzunov (1972);
This Wonderful Life, directed by Maria Ruseva (1974);
Beginning of the Day, directed by Dimitar Petrov (1975);
Under One Sky, directed by Iscander Hamraev (1981):
The Russian Consul, directed by Nina Minkova (1981) and others.