The nightingale of the Aegean region
Bulgarian folk singer Lyubka Rondova has been on the stage of decades. Born in the picturesque village of Aegia (in present-day Greece), she was one of thousands of children who fled Greece during the Civil War of 1948 finding refuge in Bulgaria.
She graduated the Karlovy University in Prague. Holding a university degree in philology, she speaks several foreign languages. Her family settled permanently in Bulgaria in the 1960s.
First, Lyubka worked as a tour guide, editor, and long-time heaf of the Culture department in one of Sofia’s metropolitan municipalities.
For 30 years now, she has been soloist of the Goce Delchev ensemble in Sofia. There are hundreds of recordings for the Bulgarian National Radio and the Bulgarian National Television and several solo albums. One of her most popular songs is "The water spring”.
"I know this song from my childhood in my native village of Shestevo", Lyubka Rondova explains. "My grandmother and my mother used to sing it. Later, I found in in the collection "Bulgarian Folk Songs" of the Miladinov brothers. I'm a linguist and maybe that's why I was struck by the old forms of the Bulgarian anguage in the text. Among the most popular titles in my repertoire is also "Smilyana" which over the years has become my logo. Even I know of several cases when parents liked the song so much that they named their children after the character in the song – the beautiful girl Smilyana. I can proudly say I am a happy singer."
"Smilyana" is a ritual song of the Kastoria region, that Lyubka learned from her mother. She could remember the lyrics pretty well but she had to write the melody herself.
Let’s hear it next in today’s TOM – Lyubka Rondova’s signature song.
Last year, we marked the 150th anniversary of the issuance of the collection Bulgarian Folk Songs of the Miladinov brothers and this year we mark 150 years since the death of two brothers in a prison in Istanbul.
“The Miladinov Brothers have left a priceless treasure, Lyubka Rondova. It was a feat for the time to collect more than 660 songs and also customs, proverbs, and sayings in one place. And most importantly - this book has allowed us to sing the songs that they have preserved although there are no musical recordings kept. Years ago, my friend advised me to do my own tunes on the texts in the collection. I replied that I had no musical education and he said, "Your grandmother was not using scores while she was singing in the fields, was she?". So, I am very grateful to him. Thus I included many new songs in my repertoire. Recently, I was the chair of the jury at a folk festival in Sapareva banya. I can not tell you how happy I felt when I heard these young children perform my songs. I was particularly impressed by ne girl who sang “Zaspalo mome” (A girl fell asleep), a song that I know from my childhood.
Among the titles in Lyubka Rondova’s repertoire is the song called The Daughter of the Aegean. The text is written in co-authorship of Lucilla Nakova and Georgi Karayanev, the melody is written by Lyubka Rondova. The song tells about the events of 1948, when about 29,000 children weer fleeing the bombings of the Civil War in Greece. As Lyubka says, “We learned a lot, got a good education, but some of us did not see their parents again - this is the life of migrant children.”
As the singer says, this song addresses our children who chose to live abroad. It tells about how the years have passed and the hero decides to go back, but there is no one to meet him in the home of his parents. The singer travels a lot and constantly meets with Bulgarian emigrants who live abroad.
English version: Rossitsa Petcova