The Magic of Accordion

The sound of accordion has been related to different national traditions ever since this instrument was patented in Vienna back in 1829. For instance – French chansons, Latin-American tango, Cumbia etc. Accordion has entered Bulgarian folk music since the beginning of the 20th century too. It was spotted for a first time in the village of Dalbok Izvor near Plovdiv, accompanied by a violin, a clarinet and a drum.
In the beginning accordionists used only their right hand, since our authentic music was not familiar with harmonious combinations. Harmonics is another instrument that sounds like accordion. Listen next to a recording of the unique Dobrudzhanska Troika – we will hear a harmonics, a bagpipe and a fiddle.

According to researchers, accordion entered the Bulgarian tradition in the beginning of the 20th century. However, 2-3 decades passed before original instrumentalists managed to combine its sound with traditional Bulgarian rhythms and intonations. Boris Karlov was the first renown accordionist in Bulgaria.
Born in 1924 in a family of Bulgarian – Roma origin, Boris Karlov started to play the accordion at the age of 12 – he used Hohner. Boris was guided by his father Karlo Aliev, who was the creator and front man of the legendary Sofiiska Korenyashka Grupa band. The performances of the band have sounded on the wavelengths of Radio Sofia since 1935. Boris Karlov took over the band after his father’s death. He created his unique style and his unforgettable Karlovski Chain-dances still sound on the Bulgarian National Radio and around the globe. Boris Karlov died in the Serbian town of Kralevo in 1964. His brother Hristo Karlov says in an interview: “I traveled with his band for 15 years. The audience at concerts wouldn’t let us go till 1 – 2 am. People in Yugoslavia worshipped Boris… And we didn’t even play any Serbian music, but only Bulgarian chain-dances. I used to be second accordionist at the hits Dudino, Graovsko, Shopsko Horo…”

A new musician appeared among live instrumentalists in Radio Sofia in the 40s – accordionist Ivan Kirev /1924/ from the village of Nova Nadezhda near Haskovo. He dedicated his life to folk music and accordion, arranged songs and accompanied with his orchestra famous singers, created accordion chain-dances. Listen next to his undying Krashno Horo.

Another accordion master – Ivan Shibilev /1927-1985/ from the village of Troyanovo near Burgas. He was the son of a folk musician and toured with folk stars Valkana Stoyanova, Boris Mashalov, Pavel Sirakov etc. He started working with the BNR in 1957 and created over 100 chain-dances and rachenitsi. Listen next to his popular Shibilevo Horo.

Emil Kolev from the village of Banitsa near Vratsa has contributed a lot to the popularization of accordion in folk music. His 80th birthday will be celebrated in 2011. His repertoire originated from West Bulgaria. The famous Breznishko Horo is one of his masterpieces.

Ibro Lolov /1932/ was the son of clarinet player from the Sofiiska Korenyashka Grupa band, just like Boris Karlov. He started to play the accordion around Sofia restaurants when he was 11. In the beginning of the 50s he recorded for the BNR the famous Filipovsko Horo, followed by many other hits. Listen next to his brilliant Kopanitsa.

English version: Zhivko Stanchev

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