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:

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

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