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Accordionist Veronika Todorova - on the journey back home and concert life in Bulgaria

Photo: Facebook /Veronika Todorova

An outstanding Bulgarian woman, musician and virtuoso accordion performer has come back home, bringing all her concert activities to her homeland. This is Veronika Todorova, who for nearly 20 years has been building a successful career as a conductor and concert musician in Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Finland and on the European stage in general. In 2006, at the world accordion championship in Norway, she was declared the best accordionist in the world. The same year she also won the title "Master of Germany". The instrument itself is physically difficult for women, that's why the most prominent accordionists in the world are mostly men.

Music critics in Bulgaria say about Veronika that she masters the instrument to perfection, and in addition, she can interpret the most diverse music styles - from baroque, classical and tango-nuevo through her own compositions to modern ethnic jazz. This makes her a desirable partner on the stage of orchestral ensembles and solo performers, such as the impressive projects with the violinist Vesko Eschkenazy and the Pleven Philharmonic.

Otherwise, the young musician spent her childhood in the village of Debnevo near the town of Troyan in the Balkan Mountain. Veronika Todorova has been learning the accordion since the age of 6, as her talent was discovered by her first teacher Dimitar Tsvetkov from Lovech:

"My parents, who supported my musical pursuits with great love and commitment, never stopped me from participating in any competition. For the longest period I was a graduate of the Troyan Music School, and there - of my teacher Marieta Zhekova. Then we went to Germany with my family and I was lucky to study with a very good Russian accordionist, and then I was discovered by Renzo Ruggeri, one of the brightest musicians - a star of the world jazz scene - I had the opportunity and the great luck to study for three years in his jazz academy in Italy, and then I graduated from the Music Academy in Darmstadt (Germany) with accordion.”

Veronika says that in recent years her concerts do not fall below 180 per year on various European stages. She felt good on the German stages, she was a conductor in various orchestras, the head of prestigious projects, she was a music teacher in Germany, but she always felt the need to be in her homeland and to draw inspiration from life in Bulgaria.

In addition, she also writes music and increasingly begins to turn to her roots and to the heritage of her homeland. This led her, at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, to make a final decision and return to Bulgaria and, above all, to her native village of Debnevo. For three years, she has been here permanently, together with her daughter, and says that now she feels her life is truly full and successful. 

Another of Veronika's dreams came true when she organized the Debnevo Music Festival, attracting musicians from all over the world. This year it was held for the fifth time. It is called "Jam on the River" and the stage is a green meadow and the natural setting is the lush scenery of the Balkan Mountain range.

"Everywhere, even in the smallest village, people need art, because it is food for our soul," says Veronika Todorova:

"The festival was born because of my desire to get to know Bulgarian musicians and to provide a stage where my colleagues with whom I have worked in the West over the years can play, as well as to create a field for local musicians to perform. Thus, in recent years, "Jam on the River" has experienced rapid development. This year in August we enjoyed an audience of 10,000 people. This for me is a huge achievement and source of exhilaration.”

One of the most powerful forces that has brought Veronika back to Bulgaria from abroad is the opportunity for her to teach piano and accordion to Bulgarian students. From September 15, Veronika is back at her workplace in the local Ivan Vazov school in the village of Debnevo. Between the rehearsals for the concerts, she did not stop giving lessons to the children during the summer vacation:

"My work with children goes on all the time and I am very happy that through me they have the opportunity to touch the stage, attend many concerts, and working with children itself makes me happy. This was the first thing I started doing when I got back to Bulgaria. In the village of Debnevo, where I work with about 30 children, we introduced an innovation that gives all children from first to fourth grade the opportunity to learn a musical instrument. The basis of this idea is the result of an experiment conducted more than 20 years ago in Germany, which proved that learning a musical instrument greatly increases the IQ of children, not to mention emotional intelligence and many qualities, including social skills that are developed through music education. So I am dedicated every day to this work and I work with the children in the village of Debnevo with great love."

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Photos: Facebook /Veronika Todorova, Didi Andreeva, BGNES

Translated and published by Rositsa Petkova
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