A comparison of Petar Christoskov’s Op. 1 and Op. 24 Caprices for Solo Violin: The effect of the changing Bulgarian political climate on his compositional style.

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Bulgaria, though a fairly small Eastern European country, boasts an ancient history of folk traditions and music; however, very few notated works exist due to the people's primitive lifestyle throughout Bulgaria's history. Singing and dancing as well as creating instruments from wood and animal skin were considered an integral part of everyday life, equal to cooking, sewing, herding, or farming; in fact, one almost always accompanied the other. Thus, more than 1500 years of folklore was orally passed on and preserved generation after generation; however, nothing was notated until only very recently when Bulgarians realized the cultural and national value ... continued below

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Vassileva, Veronika May 2016.

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  • Vassileva, Veronika

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Bulgaria, though a fairly small Eastern European country, boasts an ancient history of folk traditions and music; however, very few notated works exist due to the people's primitive lifestyle throughout Bulgaria's history. Singing and dancing as well as creating instruments from wood and animal skin were considered an integral part of everyday life, equal to cooking, sewing, herding, or farming; in fact, one almost always accompanied the other. Thus, more than 1500 years of folklore was orally passed on and preserved generation after generation; however, nothing was notated until only very recently when Bulgarians realized the cultural and national value of their history. After the liberation from Ottoman Rule (1453-1877) a nationalist movement spread throughout the Balkan countries, which resulted in the emergence of Bulgarian composers. Music and songs from the local folk traditions evolved, developed, and - with notation - became the foundation for the vocal and instrumental music of the so-called first generation of Bulgarian composers. Around the turn of the century, many Bulgarian artists and musicians traveled to Western Europe (mostly Austria, Germany, and Russia) and upon their return, their artistic output created an original mixture of Bulgarian national folk with influences from Western classical music. After World War II, Bulgaria became one of the countries governed by the Communist regime, which restricted all travel to and contact with the West, including cultural influences from the West. Gradually, as the Communist regime became less controlling until it dissolved completely in 1989, restrictions on music and culture started to lift.
Petar Christoskov (1917-2006), considered part of the second generation of Bulgarian composers, began his compositional career immediately after returning from Germany to a communist-ruled Bulgaria. His first opus was the set of 12 Caprices for Solo Violin (1953, formerly known as Concert Etudes in Folk Style); they have a fairly simple compositional style but are full of elements from the Bulgarian folk tradition. Some of these caprices, along with other works from the beginning of Christoskov's compositional career, were commissioned by the nationalist government and/or were required repertoire at national music competitions. Nearly thirty years after the first set of caprices, Christoskov composed another set: 24 Caprices for Solo Violin, Op. 24 (1978-9). These later works also contain many Bulgarian folk characteristics, but their compositional style is much more abstract, atonal, and complex - more “mainstream Western.”
The goal of this document is to compare and contrast the two sets of Caprices for Solo Violin, Op. 1 and Op. 24, by investigating the development of Petar Christoskov's compositional style. I will argue that the constantly-changing political systems in twentieth-century Bulgaria had a direct impact on the composer's artistic output. After a historical overview of Bulgaria's music and political background, the two sets of caprices will be compared and contrasted by focusing on technical, musical, and sociological similarities and differences. In order to illustrate these similarities and differences, three caprices from each set will be selected and analyzed, as well as compared and contrasted with each other. The second part of the document will discuss the negative influence of the political climate on music and printing, with a focus on the difficulties of preserving Bulgarian culture itself.
This research has the additional purpose of serving as scholarly support for a future project: as a personal contribution to the circulation and preservation of Bulgarian music, I intend to produce a new violin edition of Petar Christoskov's caprices as well as complete the arrangements for viola.

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  • May 2016

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  • June 28, 2016, 4:28 p.m.

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  • March 8, 2018, 9:32 a.m.

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Vassileva, Veronika. A comparison of Petar Christoskov’s Op. 1 and Op. 24 Caprices for Solo Violin: The effect of the changing Bulgarian political climate on his compositional style., dissertation, May 2016; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc849741/: accessed November 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .