Pancho Vladigerov

Pancho Vladigerov (13 March 1899 – 8 September 1978) was a Bulgarian composer, pedagogue, and pianist.

He is perhaps the most influential Bulgarian composer of all time. He was one of the first to successfully combine idioms of Bulgarian folk music and the West European art music tradition. Part of the so-called second generation of Bulgarian composers, he was among the founding members of the Bulgarian Contemporary Music Society (1933), which later became the Union of Bulgarian Composers. Vladigerov marked the beginning of a number of genres in Bulgarian music, including the violin sonata and the piano trio

Vladigerov was born in Zürich, Switzerland, but lived in Shumen. His mother Dr. Eliza Pasternak was a Russian Jew and a relative of the famous writer Boris Pasternak. His father Dr. Haralan Vladigerov was a Bulgarian lawyer. Pancho Vladigerov played the piano and composed since early age. In 1910, two years after his father’s early death, Vladigerov and the rest of his family moved to Sofia where Pancho started studying composition with Dobri Hristov, the most distinguished Bulgarian composer of his generation.

Vladigerov’s most performed and emblematic work is unquestionably Vardar Rhapsody, also known as Bulgarian Rhapsody. Originally written for violin and piano, it was later orchestrated and arranged for various instruments. A fiery patriotic work, it has become, in the words of an admiring critic “the Bulgarian equivalent of Chopin’s Polonaise in A Major”.

Pancho Vladigerov died in 1978 in Sofia. His house at No. 10, Yakubitsa, has been transformed into a museum. His son Alexander Vladigerov (1933–1993) and grandchildren Pancho Vladigerov Jr., Alexander Wladigeroff, and Konstantin Wladigeroff have become respected musicians in their own right.

An international music competition held in Shumen since 1986 is named after Vladigerov. In the autumn of 2006 Pancho Vladigerov Jr. founded The Intellectual Legacy of Pancho Vladigerov Foundation. Its main aim is to preserve, protect and popularise Pancho Vladigerov’s tangible and intangible heritage