Hello, dear friends!
Here we are again in RB’s Listeners’ mailbag program, browsing through your letters and reading your comments and opinions.
And of course, we have, finally, the answer to our summer quiz on RB. There is plenty of good Bulgarian music and recollections of the years in school as the school year in Bulgaria has just kicked off.
But most important, it’s RB’s quiz that we are dealing with in this show. This is the third quiz for this year and this time the question was closely related to the BNR.
Who was the first director of the Bulgarian National Radio? And the answer is: Sirak Skitnik.
A question that was not too difficult for quite a few of RB’s listeners. We thank all of you for your letters and answers!
Here are some more details about this important figure in the history of the Bulgarian National Radio:
His real name was Panayot Todorov Hristov, but most people are familiar with only his artistic pseudonym. He was born in the late 19th century – in the town of Sliven, and graduated the Theological School in Sofia in 1902. Then he left for Saint Petersburg to study painting in the private school of Leon Bakst. After he returned to Bulgaria, he fought in the Balkan war, in the post-war era was teacher, painter, then playwright, art critic, librarian, and finally from 1935 until his death in 1943 – editor-in-chief of Radio Sofia.
And his artistic pseudonym has an interesting story – here is what Sirak Skitnik wrote in his recollections on how it originated: “On one summer day while I was in the Troyan monastery, I was sitting under the shade of a century-old oak tree to relax. I was rummaging through the sand under my feet with a rod. I was deeply sad and was overwhelmed by a feeling of loneliness and hopeless of my wasted youth. Who knows why I started writing in the sand and what I wrote were these two woods – Sirak (meaning “orphan” and Skitnik meaning “wanderer”). This is how my pseudonym saw the light of day”, Sirak Skitnik wrote.
The art gallery in the native town of Sirak Skitnik (an artistic pseudonym translating as Orphan Wanderer) owns a large number of his masterpieces and also has a considerable archive. Thirty five of his works are now on display in Bulgarian National Radio. In fact, the prominent Bulgarian artist, art critic and public figure Panayot Todorov was the first head of Bulgarian National Radio and set a course towards a serious cultural policy. As such, the exhibition indicates the main axis of his life – from the beginning to the end.
This new encounter with the art of Sirak Skitnik is a real celebration. Looking at his paintings, one can yet again come round to the opinion that in the period between the two world wars, Bulgaria didn’t have a better painter than him who had freed himself from the duties of the daily grind and had ventured openly into the world of art, wrote art critic Ruja Marinska.
A new quiz will be coming on RB – just be sure to listen to RB’s listeners’ mailbag programs every Saturday!