Accordionist Stoyan Dechev is among the staunch guardians of the unadulterated performing style of Dobrudzha folklore. The traditional instruments from this part of the country – alongside the rebeck, the kaval, the bagpipe – include the harmonica (a bag-and-keyboard instrument, similar to the accordion).
Having been brought to these parts by Bulgarians returning from Southern Russia and Bessarabia, it was later replaced by the accordion. Even the typical “Dobrudzha trio”, along with the rebeck and the bagpipe, invariably includes the accordion with its vast technical and harmonic potential.
“My father used to play the rebeck, as did my grandfather,” Stoyan Dechev remembers. “They were shoemakers and playing this instrument was their way of relaxing. In our village half the people play some instrument – the rebeck or the harmonica. I myself chose the harmonica. Later, in Sofia, I bought an accordion. When I graduated the institute in Sliven, I went on to study at the school for folklore conducting in Plovdiv with Prof. Ivan Spassov, Prof. Vassilka Spassova, Hristo Urumov. I then applied to the Music Academy in Sofia where I passed the exam for accordion lecturer. And that is my main profession – I constantly teach folklore groups. At the moment I have groups in Tutrakan, and I am really thankful to them and to destiny.
In 2016 I took part in a World Balkan Festival in Brooklyn where I did very well – I was given half an hour, everyone else was given five minutes. I have always endeavoured to popularize the folklore of Dobrudzha, to track down music no one else has played.”
English version: Milena Daynova