(1968) Various Artists – Songs and dances from Bulgaria

Argo issue number: RG 562, re-issued April 1971 as ZFB 47

Recordings: made in the field by Deben Bhattacharya in 1965

Sleeve notes and photos: Deben Bhattacharya

Pena Grozeva – tambura (A1) singer & tambura (B5, B6)
Maria Lačeva Hristova – singer (A2)
Gueorgiu Blagolo Rutev – gajda (bagpipe) (A3)
Slavka Ivanova Gulova, Elenka Spasova Pavlina, Stoĩka Christova Kovažka, Nouscha Ivanova Manževa, Stoĩka Ranguelova Manževa, Spasouna Spasova Markova, Dafinka Rangelova Mechandjiyska – singers (A4)(B2)
Kiko Šumanov – dudùk flute
Assen Jlov, Atanass Varadénov, Jvan Guérov, Jana Petrova Anguélova, Vassilka Dimitrova Lazarova, Dinka Pavlova – singers (A6)
Sanka Miševa – singer (A7)
Kiril Pavlov – kaval (A7, A10)
Alil Alilov – clarinet (A8)
Petra Massârliykata – Singer (A9)
Nikola Petko Vâlov, Christo Tsvetanov Gueoroguev, Vassil Ivanon Načev, Todar Tsankov Stoev, Zlatan Tsolov Slatev, Tsano Vassilev Petkov, Tsvetan Vassilev Ivanov, Mihal Krâstev Jolov – singers (B1)
Andrea Kriviralčov – gajda (B3)
Zaharina Kotseva Stanoeva – Singer (B4)


(click on a track and it’ll play in a new window)

Side A
1 Horo – tambura solo (Dermantsi, 1965)
2 Buen vjatar vee stano – harvest song (Pirdop, 1965)
3 Dajčova and Konéšta dances – gajda solo (Pirdop, 1965)
4 Zassviri ovĕar krai gora – harvest song (Madžare, 1965)
5 Shepherd’s melody – dudùk solo (Tuden, 1965)
6 Gree, gree messečina – men’s horo (Elin-Pelin, 1965)
7 Ovčar moma lăže – shephered’s song and kaval (Elin-Pelin, 1965)
8 Lukovitski momi horo – clarinet solo (Lukovit, 1965)
9 Zamrăknala sama Jana – harvest song (Lukovit, 1965)
10 Četvorno horo – kaval solo (Elin-Pelin, 1965)

Side B
1 Koledare – Christmas carol (Lukovit, 1965)
2 Podrum verviat kiten svatove – wedding song (Madžare, 1965)
3 Ya čuvaj Lale bajova (love song) and Račenitsa (dance) (Koprivštitza, 1965)
4 Slavčo Marijka dumaše (Pirdop, 1965)
5 Koj ti kupi, dude, kăsoto eleče – Pomak song (Dermantsi, 1965)
6 Kaži Menko, kaži nani – Pomak song (Dermantsi, 1965)

Deben Bhattacharya’s notes to the songs. Click to open in a new window


Pics from the inner leaflet

 Sanka Misva and kaval player Kiril Pavlov tambura player penagrozeva   street scene madzare, gajda andrea kriviralcov horo chain dance

Other Bulgarian recordings
For info and to hear some Bulgarian recordings between the World Wars, check out this page on the fab excavatedshellac site and this anthology of Balkan wind virtuosi from 1906 to the mid-forties on the Topic label.

Don’t know much yet about the post-war folk output of the Bulgarian state record label Balkanton, but when Bhattacharya set out for East Europe in 1964 Topic had just released the compilation ‘Bulgarian Folk Music’ (Topic 12T107, 1964) – largely the fruits of field recordings made by A. L. Lloyd in 1954 and 1963. The 1954 field trip had already formed the basis of the Bulgaria volume of the Alan Lomax-supervised Columbia World Library of Folk and Primitive Music (Columbia KL 5378, 1959).

Topic had issued some Bulgarian music earlier in the 1950s: a couple of folk songs on a 78 by the Bulgarian (State) Song and Dance Ensemble and two tracks of recordings made at the Communist-sponsored World Youth Festival in Warsaw in 1955.

The Columbia Bulgaria record seems to have disappeared off re-issuer Rounder’s catalogue (now there’s a surprise! Not). The Topic album is still available here.

No rock, no beards
What was Bulgaria like for foreigners to visit in those days? Well, you can get a little bit of the picture in an account of a trip down the Danube by a group of young Americans, published in the National Geographic in July 1965. Here’s them entering the country at Vidin on the north-eastern border with Romania:

No place we saw was more immaculate and orderly than the customs office in Vidin. The chief inspector, a husky, dark, contented-looking man, sat behind a bare glass-topped desk. Behind him hung pictures of Nikita Kruschev amd Todor Zhivkov, the Bulgarian Premier and Communist Party leader. The chief’s deputies – shoes shined, uniforms sharp-creased – flanked him smartly. On a small table sat a powerful transocean radio receiver.

“You will tell me everything and I will believe you,” said the chief. “But if you do not tell the truth, steps will have to be taken.” We presented the inventories of our gear. After sober deliberation, the officers ordered Mike to throw away the dried sunflower seeds he had brought with him for snacks.

At Vidin the young Americans are supplied with a guide and interpreter – a lad called Jordan from the Dmitrov Young Communist League.

“Jordan helped us to overcome the reluctance of Bulgarian people to talk with us,” says the account. “Most Bulgarians we met seemed to regard the Soviet Union as a benefactor, and viewed travellers from the West with reserve.”

A little further downriver at Lom their hostess for dinner, the daughter of a local Communist Party official, advises them that her countrymen are ‘advised’ not to talk to Americans. Beards are discouraged, she tells them.

“Rock ‘n’ roll is frowned on too,” the girl said. “But I have piles of Beatles records. No one knows and it wouldn’t make any difference if they did.”

Jazz, though, was accepted. The band at the dinner played Dave Brubeck’s Take Five and other modern pieces.

Later they hitched a ride on a coal-stoked river boat.

“At village stops, dark men and pigtailed farmwomen got on and off. On the open top deck elderly couples sat with only handkerchiefs to shield their heads from the broiling sun. Young men played cards. Sun-cracked faces, threadbare clothes, and gnarled, stubby fingers told of lifetimes of unremitting labour.”

The sound of Bulgarian youth
Talking of rock ‘n’ roll, I get so caught up in this rural-backwoods-visiting-folk-song-hunting mallarkey that I forget about the world outside.

So here’s a couple of pop songs that were in the Bulgarian charts at the time. The sound of Bulgarian youth from 1964 on the state-owned label Balkanton, coming soon to a transistor radio near every old gajda player.

Click on a track title and it’ll play in a new window.

emil-labelSong 1: Emil Dimitrov (Bulgaria’s fave and pretty popular across other bits of Europe) singing Signal (BTK 2744-1)

Song 2: Studio 5 playing Madison 5 (Balkanton M33 2695 Б).

Thanks to Andreas Michalke for the Bulgopop. His blog – the resting place for all sorts of ‘forgotten cultural artifacts’ – is here.


~ by folkcatalogue on March 21, 2011.

6 Responses to “(1968) Various Artists – Songs and dances from Bulgaria”

  1. What a beautiful post Folkcatalougue! (do I have to keep calling you that Q (;-?)

    That means I can safely put the Bulgarian “Expo Norr / Caprice” [RIKS LPX 4] Musik från Bulgarien in place on my Anthems of Luobaniya side! Should be coming up soon then!

  2. The Expo Norr – Caprice… has landed…


  3. cool. will get on the case once i’ve done the cleaning…

  4. The Columbia Bulgarian LP is available here:



  5. i have a similar blog “alpencollection” where i upload my folk music records from germany, switzerland etc. keep up the good job with your collection and site

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