Martha Forsyth, a lifelong passion for authentic Bulgarian folklore

Petra, Zlata and Stoya with Martha (left to right), 1988
Photo: courtesy of Martha Forsyth

СнимкаAn energetic American woman from Boston might turn out to be the keenest person worldwide where Bulgarian authentic folklore is concerned. Her passion to collect songs dates back to her years in college, where she studied Russian Language and Literature, and at a certain point took a course in Slavic Folklore. Her professor introduced her to authentic folklore from Bulgaria. Martha Forsyth was fascinated – not at once, but forever. She started visiting Bulgaria in 1976, met and cooperated with Vergili Atanasov, Annie Ilieva and other scholars from the Institute of Folklore and Musicology. Vergili Atanasov sent her to the villages of Bistritsa and Zheleznitsa on the outskirts of Sofia, and also to Velingrad, Southern Bulgaria. In Bistritsa Martha met with the Alexandrov family who knew the local singers and introduced the American to them. Here is more from her story, as she talked with Daniela Konstantinova:




Bulgarian village singing on Marth’s blog: http://martha.forsyths.org

Haying in the village of Govedartsi, 1986

Three Bulgarian village songs recorded by Martha Forsyth with her remarks below:




* Ja da ti zema (Nedelino 2000). This was recorded here in the US of the two sisters we arranged to have visit the US in 2000. We know this as "the victory song" because, when the girls went to the US Embassy to get their visa (for the second time - they were rejected the first time), the Embassy staff finally asked them, "Well, can you really sing?" and they sang this song!




* Oblagala se Dragana (Dragovishtica, 1980). This is one of my favorite solo harvest melodies! I find it "so beautiful it hurts...."



* Sabraja se os'm babi (Bistrica 1980), Bistrishki babi group

Coming home from potato fields, singing, 1988


Photos: courtesy of Martha Forsyth

More from category

Angel Dobrev: Sound of rebec can cheer us up or make us cry

Angel Dobrev is a popular name in Bulgaria’s folk music field. He devoted his entire life and profession to the rebec. Angel is an inspired instrumentalist, composer, author of song arrangements and orchestral pieces. He is also a rebec..

published on 11/12/17 10:05 AM

Singer Snezhana Borissova: "Old folklore songs are pure spring which we draw wisdom from"

In current dynamic times when futile speech, debates and fake information streams are common, the ancient folk song is a sort of salvation from the noise and vanity that surround us. It is a peculiar island of purity and wisdom that many look..

published on 11/11/17 8:00 AM

Dancho Radulov: We should never forget the mellifluous sound of the shepherd’s flute

Dancho Radulov is a celebrated Bulgarian shepherd’s flute player who stands out with his devotion to the traditional style of playing the instrument. Thus, he distanced himself from his coevals who succumbed to the modern and..

published on 10/23/17 12:36 PM