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Film music is freedom and a challenge

Composer Petar Dundakov
Photo: library

They say that the best film music is the one that the viewer does not even notice, but somehow experiences it through the characters, through their actions and emotional states. This seemingly strange definition is shared by Petar Dundakov - a Bulgarian composer who has gained serious experience in recent years, creating original music for about 20 films. He graduated in philosophy at Sofia University and composition at the Codarts Conservatorium Rotterdam, before that he studied piano with famous Bulgarian pedagogues for many years. In the 90's he was part of the group "Tibetan Hearts", was also engaged in production, and first worked on film music in 2004.

"I was still studying in the Netherlands when I was invited to write music for "Our Other Possible Life"– a film with the famous Bulgarian actors Ivan Ivanov and Vanya Tsvetkova. I was in Bulgaria for the summer vacation. I remember that I was very afraid of what would happen, but I managed, even though I had no experience. In my opinion, what is important for film music is to be able to connect it with the story in the film and, despite the "differences" of the individual moments in the action, to build an organic musical fabric. On the one hand - you need to have a solid musical training, on the other - to be able to work in different styles. For me, film music is total freedom and a challenge to be at a level where you can be understood. I call it "music with an image."


Music for cinema or cinema on finished music - each artist has his or her own way of working. What is the experience of the famous composer:?

"For me, the ideal situation is to have a picture ready so the music could “work with it.” But some directors want ready-made music to work on, usually with an established form, a song ... It's very important for me to have contact with the director. Ultimately, what you are doing is adding to the creation of this film world in an independent way, not being self-serving. Even in the independent music I write, the image is always important to me, but not the literal one, but what creates an opportunity for a deeper metaphor.

About two years ago was the premiere of “Vazvishenie” (Elevation) - a film directed by Viktor Bozhinov, based on the novel of the same name by Milen Ruskov, one of the most successful Bulgarian feature films of recent times. And one of the few for which the music was recorded with a classical orchestra.

"It was a very ambitious process for all of us, in which no one spared neither strength, nor talent, nor means to give the best of themselves at this moment. "Elevation" is a big step forward in my experience as a composer. What we achieved then as a quality of production, including music, unfortunately does not become a standard for many Bulgarian films. The problem is not in the artists, but in the cultural situation in Bulgaria."

"The Two of Us" from "The Goat's Horn"


Peter also said that he has long been associated with Bulgarian cinema - as a child he played in a movie, and also along with the work of his father - sculptor Rusi Dundakov. Growing up under the influence of this artistic environment, he knew filmmakers from different generations. He highly appreciates the music of Stefan Pironkov, Petar Stupel, Kiril Tsibulka, Bozhidar Petkov, Kiril Donchev and many, many others.

"People and Streets" from the movie "The Boy is Going Away"


"Old Bulgarian films - almost all of them are my favorite, and the music to them is "very much in its place". Not that the directors and composers were better then. Such was the flow of culture. We now live in a situation where we are supposedly closer to some business models, and at the same time the "entertainment industry" is moving between "desirable support" from the state and private sponsors. This creates a special situation in which the artists themselves constantly ask themselves - am I creating something for entertainment simply or something deeply original. We have not found the balance. Bulgarian films made in the second half of the 20th century leave a deep mark in both cinema and music. Unfortunately, the memory for them has started to fade.”

Agreeing with what Petar Dundakov said, in the week when Bulgarian Cinema marked its anniversary, we will remind you of emblematic film melodies and songs:

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