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Ivan Spassov (1934-1996)

Ivan Spassov (Jan. 17, 1934, Sofia, - Dec. 22, 1996, Plovdiv), composer, conductor, pedagogue...

Ivan Spassov graduated from the State Academy of Music in 1957, majoring in Composition under Professor Pancho Vladigerov and Choral Conducting under Professor Georgi Dimitrov. He specialised in composition with Kazimierz Sikorski and Stanislaw Wislocki at the Warsaw Conservatoire (1960-62). At his graduation concert, Spassov conducted the Warsaw Philharmonic premiering his First symphony.

Upon his return he was appointed symphony conductor. He founded the Plovdiv Chamber Orchestra and the Plovdiv Musical Youth Society. This gave him the opportunity to premiere works by Penderecki and other modern authors. In 1967 he took part in the summer courses for new music in Darmstadt, where in 1968 the Orchestra of Radio Frankfurt conducted by Gilen performed his Episodes for Four Timbral Groups.

From 1970 to 1991 he was Main Artistic Director of the Pazardzhik Symphony Orchestra, with which he toured and recorded in Bulgaria and abroad. From 1989 to the end of his life in 1996 he worked as professor and Rector of the Academy of Music and Dance Art in Plovdiv.

He lectured in the USA (1982, 1989, 1990). In 1989 he conducted the Symphony Orchestra of Garden Grove (Los Angeles) in New York, where he performed his work 20th Century Mankind, dedicated to the ONU, before the General Secretary of the ONU Xavier Perez de Cuellar. As a conductor, he also premiered a number of works by contemporary Bulgarian and foreign composers.

He was among the instigators and leading figures of the vanguard tendencies in modern Bulgarian music. He composed a mono opera and an opera (unfinished); 4 symphonies; 4 concertos; cantatas; orchestral, instrumental, vocal music; choral and solo songs; music scores to 50 theatre performances and 3 films, etc.

In his music the traditional Bulgarian melody and its rich ornamentation and rhythmical diversity are subject to individual rethinking by means of vanguard techniques such as aleatory, improvisation, etc. His choral songs are well established in the repertoire of the most eminent Bulgarian choral ensembles and are internationally acclaimed. His vocal-orchestral works from 1980s and 1990s are marked by a deeply felt spirituality.

His works were performed in a number of European countries, the USA, Japan and Australia. He recorded for Bulgarian and foreign radio stations and released his music on LP and CD.