Ivan Spassov

Ivan SpassovSofia, 17 January, 1934 - Plovdiv, 22 December, 1996

As a composer, conductor and writer, Ivan Spassov was a symbol of Bulgaria's progressive musical consciousness. Spassov was born into a family of professional musicians. After completing degrees in conducting and composition at the State Academy of Music in Sofia, he continued his studies in Warsaw,1960-62, as a student of Kazimierz Sikorski and Stanislaw Wislocki. During his time in Poland Spassov learned and mastered serial techniques, and was the first Bulgarian composer to employ aleatoric devices and graphic notation.

Like his forebear, Konstantin Iliev, Spassov actively promoted modern music, founding the Musical Society and organizing concerts of contemporary music at which, for the first time, the Bulgarian concert-going public heard the music of Lutoslawksi, Penderecki, Baird, Milhaud, and many others. In 1964 he was appointed professor of conducting at the Plovdiv Academy; from November 1989 until his untimely death, he was its director.

In the early 1970s, Ivan Spassov emerged as Bulgaria's foremost composer of choral music. He turned to folk music at a time when most European composers sought inspiration from other sources. His aim was to unite folk elements with the modern idiom, believing that aleatoric techniques found their corollary in the unmeasured folk song. The first composition to employ his novel use of folk and aleatoric techniques was Mekhmetiu for acapella female chorus.

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