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Pavel Minev: Bulgarian culture is our strength as a nation

The famous violinist presents his forthcoming albums

Photo: private library

"The next Paganini is a Bulgarian!" the Italian magazine Grazia exclaimed some time ago on the occasion of the debut of the 6-year-old child prodigy Pavel Minev. Born in Bulgaria’s town of Pleven, he received his first music lessons from his mother, Yova Yordanova, and became the inspirer of a new system for early violin education created by her.

Later, the two left for Russia, where Pavel graduated with honours from the Moscow Conservatory in the class of Prof. Irina Bochkova. From an early age he won first prizes and gold medals in several major competitions and literally marched triumphantly on world stages.

In 1996, on the recommendation of the notable pianist Sviatoslav Richter, conductor Constantine Orbelian and other prominent musicians working in the Moscow Philharmonic, he was accepted as a full-time soloist and became the first foreigner in this post in the history of the orchestra.

To this day, Pavel performs in prestigious halls, along with legendary orchestras and conductors. Over the last year, when so many plans collapsed, the violinist was busy preparing several albums. A well-known Russian label published his recordings of works by Shostakovich, Paganini, Tchaikovsky, and Rachmaninoff. There will be also a CD in which chamber works by Brahms and Rachmaninoff will be performed, Pavel explains in an interview for Radio Bulgaria:

“I perform together with wonderful musicians, they are also heads of departments at the Moscow Conservatory, which carries out the production. On the occasion of my mother's anniversary, a popular Bulgarian cultural magazine publishes Concerto No. 5 by Vieuxtemps, Sonata No. 3 by Brahms, Caprice No. 24 by Paganini-Szymanowski.”

A fourth album is released in England together with the famous cellist Marina Tarasova, where they perform a duo by Ravel, Brahms and others, Pavel Minev explains.

“I would like to emphasize that whenever possible I include Bulgarian music”, the violinist says. “For example, the disc of the famous Russian publishing house will feature a work by Petar Hristoskov. I am grateful to his daughter Anna Hristoskova and Prof. Pavel Gerdjikov for their assistance in settling the details. The works of this great Bulgarian pedagogue and violinist have been with me all my life, I have played them in very exotic situations. For example, on May 24, 2008, in front of 12,000 listeners at a holiday in Tver. Also in the 1980s, at a jubilee conference of ESTA (the European Association of String Teachers) in Graz, Austria, when no socialist country, including Bulgaria, was yet a member of this prestigious organization. I was 8 years old and I played in front of the world's pedagogical elite. Yehudi Menuhin was present as honorary chairman, and also the famous Max Rostal. Applause is heard in the archival recording - not only between the parts, which is not generally accepted. The hall erupted in applause during the tutti (orchestral episodes), which takes us back to the time of Mozart and Sarasate, whose virtuoso performances were applauded in the same way”.

A few months later, Yova and Pavel received a parcel from Roy Bayer, then president of ASTA (American Association of String Teachers). It contained a huge US tour contract and an invitation to Yova to join the association. Of course, at that time (1980s) it was not possible for these tours to take place.

"Perhaps fate wanted my first concert there to be at Carnegie Hall, and to have the audience applaud me three times standing on their feet - after Frank's Sonata, Paganini's The Carnival of Venice, and Ravel’s Gypsy Woman - a fact repeatedly covered by the media in the United States and in our country. That doesn't happen often in this venue."

Unfortunately, there is no free access to a recording of this concert, but seconds with footage from the crowded hall have been released.

"I am happy to share that now, when arranging concerts, I am in a position to ask for the inclusion of Bulgarian works in the program. For example, after my last concert with the Berlin Philharmonic, the orchestra Pancho Wladigeroff’s "Song" and Bulgarian Rhapsody "Vardar". I am convinced that Bulgarian culture is our strength that cannot be destroyed. The spirit of our people is embodied in the works of its geniuses. Turning to their works, we learn from their principles - this is the way to survive as individuals and as a society in the time of this terrible world catastrophe, the consequences of which are unpredictable. My greatest joy is that I use my contacts to be useful to my nation. I believe that this is the highest duty of every Bulgarian."

English version Rositsa Petkova

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