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Milcho Leviev’s film music to be presented in Plovdiv

The works from the 1960s show the entry of jazz music into Bulgarian film industry

Photo: Facebook / Culture Hotspot Milcho Leviev

In 1967, Milcho Leviev created the music to the film "Detour" (Otklonenie), based on a novel by Blaga Dimitrova, giving an emotional expression to the story of the impossible love of two long-separated lovers. The association for culture and education, founded in his memory, chose the name of this film to present the film music of the great musician in a new project. Milcho Leviev carried his native Plovdiv in his heart all his life, even though he was separated from it for a long time.

The project will bring together renowned musicians and talented students from the city's music school on a stage in October. In the "Boris Hristov" House of Culture, the audience will hear Leviev’s music, accompanied by black and white footage. Visitors will also hear unreleased works.

Vicky Almazidou

"An idea that Milcho had was his film music to receive Bulgarian lyrics," says Vicky Almazidou, a jazz singer and long-time companion of his. “The project was carried out in Valery Kostov's studio by a team of very interesting musicians and people who are directly linked to Milcho. I can mention the Vladigerov brothers - grandsons of Pancho Vladigerov, whom Milcho respected greatly, as well as former students of his, plus a string quartet. The films are from the 60s and have extremely interesting melodies, which show the entry of jazz music into the Bulgarian cinema industry. Zlatna Kostova, journalist, poet and translator, helped me as she wrote some of the lyrics in Bulgarian and I am the author of the others. After the orchestration of the pieces, I went to Plovdiv and recorded them."


Vicky Almazidou lists some of the movie titles - "Torrid Noon" (Goreshto pladne), "Autumn Sun", "There's Nothing Finer than Bad Weather", "Detour" (Otklonenie), as well as the then banned film "Monday Morning".

While he was still living in his homeland, Milcho Leviev proved himself as a talented pianist, conductor and composer, but after his departure in 1970 for the United States, he was declared a "non-returner" by the regime. Thus, the music he wrote was banned and his name erased. The musician, who is born in 1937, chose the free spirit of jazz music and won several Grammy nominations. After the fall of the Iron Curtain, he led master classes in Bulgaria and through his fund "Milcho Leviev & Viki Almazidou" provided scholarships to young talented musicians. He left this world in 2019 and according to his wish, his ashes were scattered over his beloved Plovdiv.

On the occasion of the 85th anniversary of Milcho Leviev a series of events were launched in the past year, the continuation of which is the upcoming project. The beginning was made with "Sonata 57" - the musician's posthumous album. It features Vicky Almazidou and friends, Bulgarian and foreign musicians, while the composer himself performs the piano parts recorded shortly before he passed away. Milcho Leviev wrote the sonata on which the current composition is built when he was just 18 years old and he dedicated it to the great violinist and pedagogue Prof. Boyan Lechev.


"Milcho left several musical ideas unfinished, one of which was Sonata 57," Vicky Almazidou says. “Together with producer Ivan Minchev, composer Valeri Kostov and about 45 musicians from all over the world, we managed to complete the project. It was very touching. Although Milcho disliked modern technology in music, this time he told Valeri: ‘You will send the tracks that I played on the piano and my scores around the world. The musicians would play these things on their instruments, send the recordings back and it would all be edited as if they were playing together.’ And indeed, that's exactly how it turned out. We worked on this project for a year."


The next event dedicated to the great Bulgarian jazzman will be the presentation of the book "Milcho Leviev - Jazz Standards." Young musicians from the school he himself once graduated from will perform on stage.

Text: Diana Tsankova (based on an interview by Antonia Popova, BNR-Plovdiv)

Photos: Facebook / Culture Hotspot Milcho Leviev, bnt.bg

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