From Bulgarian Monasteries to Music
Bulgarian Art – this page has lots of information to do with literature, fine arts, architecture, Bulgarian Monasteries, and music.
Bulgaria is a country where East and West meet, where different cultures and traditions are still alive, merge, and give birth to the Bulgarian art of the present day. Not only can the traveler see the pieces of art in the numerous churches, monasteries and first-class museums, but also in the country ‘s fairs, festivals, music, dance, seasonal celebrations, and rituals, as well as in Bulgarian Opera, an essential part of Bulgaria at present time. In the same way, Bulgarian traditions are still present in copper handicrafts, in the work of some timber structures and in Bulgarian pottery.
Music, dance and numerous cultural festivals have always been part of everyday life in Bulgaria. And, if Sofia attracts the traveler thanks to its opera, concerts and cultural activities, folklore is still present in smaller cities and towns on the hills, both in local celebrations and in local restaurants and pubs.
The first Bulgarian literary pieces, of religious inspiration, were written by the end of the IX century by Saint Clement, Bishop of Ohrid, in Preslav. The most brilliant period of medieval literature dates to the XIV century, in Tarnovo, by the Patriarch Eutimio. His disciples, refugees in Russia, contributed to the development of literature in that country, while their own culture vanished away in their own fatherland.
But there was an awakening in 1762, by the Paisj monk (History of the Bulgarian Slaves), a manuscript that started a national awareness, which would be eventually expressed in the patriotic literature by the Bulgarian Renaissance authors, such as Petko Slavejkov (1827-1895), Ljuben Karavelov (1834-1879), and Hristo Botev (1848-1876).
After the deliverance, the same passion inspired the works by Ivan Vazov (1850-1921), and in 1872, Ivanko, the Murderer of Asen I, tragedy by Vasil Drumev, set the birth date of the Bulgarian drama, whose higher peak took place in the XX century.
Under the communist regime, the official character of culture makes the appreciation of values more difficult. However, new talented novel authors gain fame, like Dimitar Talev (1898-1966), with “The Bells of Prespa” (1954), and Emilian Stanev (1907-1979), and many others.
Bulgarian paintings are made of a number of works depicted from ancient Thrace times to the present. In the beginning, Bulgarian art was influenced by Byzantine arts, and its painters got inspired in the Western Baroque, by the XVIII century. Bulgarian art is based on the mixture between its national pictorial history, and the International Pictorial art. The works by Bulgarian painters, usually of a popular inspiration, show a subtle combination of feelings, expression, and innovation.
Iconographic Bulgarian art, whose highest peak was during the XII and the XIII centuries in the age of the second Bulgarian kingdom, could keep active and highly rich even in the years of the Ottoman Empire. Wall paintings gained a good reputation during those times (e.g. in Bojana church) and, as in the case of icons, in the XVIII century, go from the Byzantine influence to the Western Baroque.
Modern Bulgarian painting arises hand in hand with Zahari Zograf (1810-1853), and especially with Vladimir Dimitrov (1882-1960), being a beautiful Madonna one of his most outstanding works. These are a number of well known Bulgarian painters, whose works, of great beauty, are worth of admiring:
Painter K. Shturkelov who specializes in watercolor, the works by N. Petrov, who communicates deep poetry and feelings, the fabulous images in the works of S. Seferov, the bright colors by G. Genkov, the fine profiles by B. Angelushev, as well as the particular shapes of A. Dalchev and V. Rashidov. Of course, this is just a small portion of the national pictorial wealth. There are art galleries in most important Bulgarian cities, private or state, which allow the traveler to have direct observation of the works by different Bulgarian artists.
The best-known collections are exhibited in the Sofia National Art Gallery, Sofia City Art Gallery, Cirilo, and Metodio Foundation Art Gallery.
Architecture and other Art Manifestations
Bulgarian culture began in Thrace, whose pieces of art saw the light near the Black Sea coastal line and the Thracian plains. After that, the Byzantine influence was preponderant between the centuries VIII and XIV. Although most medieval constructions were destroyed, the reconstruction of the cyclopean walls in Liska, the model of the round church in the museum in Preslav, and the restorations of Tsarevets in Tarnovo show us the splendor of the historic significance of Bulgarian art.
The Renaissance was the golden age for architecture religious in the monastery of Rila, civil in Koprivchtitsa or in the old Plovdiv. Kolju Fitchev (1800-1881), made a number of monuments, especially in Tarnovo.
There are a series of really beautiful monasteries in Bulgaria, which were often built in severe stone facades but with an inner divine artistic beauty: they are cozy and humane, with decorations plenty of icons, and carved wood images. They also show outstanding goldsmith works.
Bulgarian music is internationally famous for a number of reasons, and singers are well known because their special technique – they constrict their throats to amplify the voice’s focus and strength, giving it a distinctive sound. The complexity of both rhythm and harmony is another distinctive mark of this usually lively style of music.
In Bulgarian folk music, there is a quantity of different regional styles. Sofia, Dobrudzha, Rodopi, Bulgarian Macedonia (the Pirin region), Thrace and the Danube shore all have distinctive sounds. They also have different types of dances, often performed at weddings and regional festivals.