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The world’s top bandoneon player for 2023 is Bulgarian

Stoyan Karaivanov won a historic first prize at the International Accordion Competition

| updated on 5/22/23 12:23 PM
Photo: Ani Petrova

The bandoneon is the instrument that lends the Argentine tango its soul, the melody that gives life its passion and history. It looks like a small accordion, but the truth is it has a bigger acoustic body, it is much more mobile, with each movement of the body directly affecting its sound which is gravelly, more poignant and distinctive from that of the accordion, capable of standing out among any other instrument, Stoyan Karaivanov told the BNR.  He is the first Bulgarian bandoneon player who plays the classical Argentine system.

A few days ago, the young Bulgarian musician returned from Germany after winning the historic first prize (in the fourth category) at the International Accordion Competition 2023 in Klingenthal. The prestigious competition took place from 7 to 13 May for the 60th time, with Prof. Stefan Hussong at the head of the 17-member international jury. And though the Argentine rhythms are today connected with the bandoneon, the instrument was actually created in Germany, where it was used during church services in the latter half of the 19th century.

“This forum has always been the place that has brought together the accordion elite of the world. Some of my lecturers have won it in its earlier editions,” Stoyan says and adds:

“And when they told me stories about this competition, about the work that went into it, the emotions that went with being part of it, it became a childhood dream of mine to be part of this contest and to secretly bring the grand prix back to Bulgaria. Bulgarians have taken part in the competition in past years, but, unfortunately, they have not reach the top three. I kept my participation secret, I wanted to go and demonstrate what I am capable of, and if the jury makes such a decision, to come home with the title. And to share the award, because it is not a personal award, it is a prize is for Bulgaria. This is a forum of lecturers from all over the world, ofthe world’s best accordion players, the performers with top-notch careers, and they all saw a bandoneon player from Bulgaria go to Germany, appear at such a prestigious competition, and win it.”

Stoyan Karaivanov with the Olga Kamburova 2021 award
Stoyan Karaivanov has been successful inside the country and also internationally. Having started his musical career with the piano, and then the violin, three years ago in Italy, Stoyan discovered the melody of the bandoneon and he just fell in love with it. The credit for this goes to Prof. Fabio Furia from the Conservatory Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina in Cagliari, Italy. Stoyan later completed a master class with world famous bandoneon player Juan José Mosalini and specialized in genre music at the International and National Centre for Accordion and Music “Jacques Morne” under Prof. Jacques Morne in France.

And even though today Stoyan Karaivanov is officially the best bandoneon player in the world, he says this title matters to him in a different way:

“What matters to me most is that Bulgaria has made a comeback and will now be noticed on the accordion stages of the world. And I hope my Bulgarian colleagues will muster up the courage to take part in the next editions of the competition.”

And they can do so without fear of competition from Stoyan Karaivanov, because the grand prix from Germany marks the end of his competitive career. He will now continue with new musical projects, continue to hone his skills as he performs the music by Astor Piazzolla he loves so much, and will teach. As he returned to Sofia on 15 May, he headed the first Bulgarian tango orchestra he founded - Libertango, named after a Piazzolla piece from 1974 – at a concert in Bulgaria hall from the programme of the European Music Festival.

Interview by Irena Gadeleva for Allegro Vivace on BNR’s Horizont channel

Text by Vessela Krasteva

Translated from the Bulgarian and posted by Milena Daynova

Photos: Ani Petrova, Irina Nedeva

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