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Bulgaria marks 95th birth anniversary of renowned conductor Ruslan Raichev

Renowned Bulgarian conductor Ruslan Raichev had a serious contribution to his country’s music and culture. He was born in Italy on May 5, 1919. His career was predetermined, because he was the son of world famous tenor Petar Raichev. The artistic atmosphere of his childhood also contributed a lot to his choice.  World famous conductors such as Arturo Toscanini and Sergei Prokofiev used to visit his father at their home. Thus, Ruslan Raichev started to attend piano lessons at the Giuseppe Verdi Music Conservatory in Milan. “I was never forced to play, because music always brought me great pleasure”, Ruslan Raichev used to say.

СнимкаIn 1932 his family returned to Bulgaria and he continued to play the piano in the classes of Professor Panka Pelishek and Professor Andrey Stoyanov. Later Ruslan Raichev graduated the Music Academy in Vienna, majoring in conductorship and piano. In an interview preserved in the BNR golden archives, Ruslan Raichev remembers his teacher- world renowned conductor Karl Böhm.

“Karl Böhm headed the conductorship master class at the Vienna Conservatory and when he accepted the proposal to become head conductor of the Vienna Opera, I immediately joined him as a trainee. Our teamwork brought me both joy and grief, because he was a very demanding teacher. I was lacking self-confidence each time he criticized me on my work. However, I owe him a lot. I had the chance to see some of the best European conductors at the Vienna Opera. I was close to the members of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and participated at music shows conducted by Richard Strauss himself.”

Ruslan Raichev’s debut as a conductor was held in 1944 at the Opera Theatre in Kaliningrad, Russia. Mr Raichev returned to Bulgaria at the same time. For three consecutive years (from 1946 until 1948) he laid the foundations of the Varna Philharmonic Orchestra and the Music Theatre in Sofia. He was the co-finder of the Sofia Music Theatre together with Sasha Popov and Stefan Makedonski. In the beginning of the 1950’s he departed to Plovdiv where his long cooperation with the Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestra began. Here is what Ruslan Raichev told RB about this period of his career.

“My work in Plovdiv left a very deep mark in my career. I departed to “The City of the Seven Hills” with the ambition of a young conductor who had gained significant experience. I found at the Plovdiv Symphonic Orchestra many polite and serious people with very high professional qualities who met my demands and expectations. We had many interesting achievements in our joint activity. We also made thousands of music premieres. ”

In 1954 the Plovdiv Opera founded by Ruslan Raichev opened doors for the first time. Mr Raichev was also a director and head conductor of the Sofia Opera. In 1982 Ruslan Raichev became the first Bulgarian who received the Order of Chivalry in Art and Literature in France. Later he was awarded the Stara Planina Order awarded to citizens with particularly great merit to Bulgaria. Maestro Raichev died in 2006. Here is what else he said about his profession:

“The most difficult thing in our job is to make both your trainees and the audience understand your art. If conducting does not bring any pleasure to us, we can not make the audience happy. It is very important to have the right approach, so people can understand you well. It is not easy to be a conductor, because we work with people and everyone has a different character. When you grab the baton, you have to unite all of them and predispose them to do the right job and fulfill your requirements. Besides, the conductor has to possess a broad general knowledge and have a good ear for music. With regard to the opera conductor, I can say that he needs to be good pianist, too.”

The audio file contains the following works:

1 Aria Manon from the Manon Lescaut opera by Giacomo Puccini performed by Anna Tomova-Sintova and the Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra

2 overture of La belle Helene comic opera by Jacques Offenbach performed by the Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestra

3 Horo Chain Dance from the Thracian Dances symphonic suite by Petko Stainov performed by the BNR Symphony Orchestra

English version: Kostadin Atanasov

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