Prof. Teodora PAVLOVICH

The history of the conducting profession in Bulgaria dates back to the second half of the 19th century when a number of talented musicians founded the first Bulgarian choirs and started working with them as conductors. Thus they laid the foundation of music as a professional performing art in the country. As graduates of educational establishments in different countries, they brought various traditions to Bulgaria enriching the Bulgarian renaissance culture. The founder of the first Bulgarian choir, Yanko Mustakov, was a graduate of the Bucharest Academy of Music, Dobri Voynikov of the French College in Istanbul, Emanuil Manolov of the Moscow Synodal Choir and the Moldavian Conservatory.  The tendency for young Bulgarian musicians to study abroad and then return to work in Bulgaria naturally increased after the Liberation from Turkish Domination 1878). Personalties such as Panayot Pipkov, who was a graduate of Milan Conservatory, Alexandar Krastev, a graduate of Zagreb Conservatory, Atanas Badev, a graduate of the Court Choir of St. Petersburg, Dobri Hristov and Angel Bukoreshtliev, who had studied in Prague, as well as a large number of other educated and talented people became the founders of the Bulgarian professional musical culture, manifesting their talent as composers and conductors. It is no wonder that Bulgaria welcomed the 20th century with dozens of newly-established choirs and when the Union of People's Choirs was founded in 1926, they already numbered 144.


Conducting underwent a new stage of development during the first half of the 20th century, when a number of musicians assumed the management of various orchestras and opera theatres. The establishment by Sasha Popov of the Academic Symphony Orchestra in the Music Academy in 1928 – an orchestra that was to become the Sofia State Philharmonic Orchestra – was undoubtedly the starting point for the development of Bulgarian professional symphony music. 

After this vigorous development, there was a natural need for professional education of conductors in our country. The foundation was laid by Marin Goleminov with the orchestral conducting course he organised in 1943 in the Music Academy. On the basis of this course the first orchestral conducting class was created in 1949, led by the renowned opera conductor Prof. Assen Dimitrov, a graduate of Paris Conservatory.

A new phase in the teaching of conducting in Bulgaria started in 1951 when Georgi Dimitrov initiated the first choral conducting classes. Thus the overall education system was completed and the Conducting Department was established as a separate unit within the Theory, Composition and Conducting Department.

At the beginning the department consisted of two sections corresponding to the two majors: Opera and Symphony Conducting, and Choral Conducting. That was logical, since the two sections trained conductors to work with two entirely different "instruments". Regardless of the fact that technique is similar in the two types of conducting, working with an orchestra and working with a choir requires different kinds of knowledge and understanding of the respective type of ensemble performance. In many European countries the separation of the choir and the orchestra conducting programmes was not introduced until recently, showing how advanced  the founders of our department were in their professional attitude and knowledge of the teaching process.

Among them, apart from the founding fathers Prof. Assen Dimitrov and Prof. Georgi Dimitrov, we must mention the names of a few others who have contributed to the foundation of the training process. In the opera and symphony conducting major: Prof. Vladi Simeonov who together with Assen Dimitrov fulfilled the idea of creating and aesthetically developing the Academic Symphony Orchestra, and Prof. Konstantin Iliev – an innovator and visionary who took orchestral conducting training in Bulgaria to a level corresponding to the aesthetics in European music in the second half of the 20th century.

Their work was continued by Prof. Vasil Kazandzhiev who was a member of the team of lecturers in Score Reading and Playing until 1988. Having made an indisputable contribution to the development of that subject by updating and expanding the range of scores studied and by publishing a large number of learning aids, Prof. Kazandzhiev accepted the appointment of Head of the Opera and Symphony Conducting Unit for the period 1988 to 2004.


Among the lecturers who have left their mark in the history of education in opera and symphony conducting, we should mention Prof. Ivan Bakalov, Sc.D. – a long-standing lecturer in the department, Dobrin Petkov, Dragomir Nenov, Emil Karamanov, Vesselin Pavlov, and more recently – Dimitar Manolov and Ivan Marinov, who taught the major during different periods. Their worthy successor today is Prof. Plamen Dzhurov who assumed management of the unit in cooperation with Assoc. Prof. Atanas Varadinov and Assoc. Prof. Ivaylo Krinchev, Ph.D. – two colleagues who, along with their work in the Vocal Department, also contribute to the training of young conductors.


The original impulse in the creation of modern choral conducting teaching methodology was provided by Prof. Dimitar Ruskov. While Georgi Dimitrov was the founder of the choral conducting major, the brain behind the syllabuses and overall methodology was Prof. Ruskov. A graduate of Leningrad Conservatory, he carried over positive qualities of the Russian teaching system and adapted it to Bulgarian conditions. For more than half a century, the choral conducting syllabuses in the National Academy of Music were some of the most versatile in Europe. The fact that these syllabuses cover almost all styles and genres in the art of music – from the Renaissance to present day and from simple songs to major cantata-oratorial works – shows the creators' foresight.


Apart from Prof. Dimitar Ruskov, we owe a deep bow to several other people for achievements of Bulgarian teaching in the field of choral conducting. The extraordinary presence of Prof. Vassil Arnaudov and Prof. Georgi Robev remains forever in our memory, and Prof. Samuil Vidas, Prof. Lilia Gyuleva, Prof. Anna Belcheva, Prof. Stoyan Kralev have also written their names in the annals of the Conducting Department. Their contributions to Bulgarian culture and to the training of young conductors are countless. 

Department Staff:

Choral conducting

Prof. Virzhinia ATANASOVA, Doctor of Arts

Prof. Teodora PAVLOVICH,Head of Department

Prof. Miroslav POPSAVOV

Prof. Adriana BLAGOEVA,Ph.D.

Assoc. Prof. Vanilia KISYOVA, Ph.D


Part-time lecturer

Georgi ELENKOV, Ph.D

Denitsa MIHAYLOVA, Ph. D.


Opera and Symphony Conducting

Prof. Ivaylo KRINCHEV, Ph. D., vice Rector

Assoc. Prof. Georgi PATRIKOV, Ph.D

Assoc. Prof. Grigor PALIKAROV, Ph. D.


Part-time lecturer

Prof. Plamen DZHUROV


Wind orchestra conducting



Music management

Assoc. Prof. Momtchil GEORGIEV, Ph.D.


Score reading and playing

Prof. Velislav ZAIMOV, Ph.D.

Yavor GOCHEV, Ph.D. 


Rehearsal pianists

Kristiyana ABRASHEVA, Ph.D.



Zornitsa GETOVA


Part-time lecturer


Magdalena Vodenicharova