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Milcho Leviev (born 1937)

Milcho Leviev (Milcho Isaac Levi), born Dec. 19, 1937 in Plovdiv. An eminent jazz musician - composer, pianist, interpreter, pedagogue – he is one of the great names in contemporary world jazz. He started his music education at the Secondary School of Music in Plovdiv, and later graduated from the Music Conservatoire in Sofia. After 1976 Milch Leviev became a US citizen. He joined, as composer and instrumentalist, Don Ellis orchestra, later performed in Beverley Hills, and in Houston, took part in a large number of elite festivals and tours around the United States and Europe. He is an American Award winner for his rhapsody Orpheus, and in 1982 he was pronounced the best US composer of the year. Leviev very often employs Bulgarian folk tunes in his composition pieces.

Awards and titles:

• DOCTOR HONORIS CAUSA, the New Bulgarian University, 1998.
• Order Stara Planina - 1997 Presidential Award, Bulgaria.
• La Meda?le dor de lAcademie Internationale des Arts, Paris, France,
• DOCTOR HONORIS CAUSA, Academy of Music and Dance, Plovdiv, Bulgaria, 1995.
• 1987 Dramalogue winner for Best Musical Director.
• Critics Prize, Montreaux Jazz Festival, 1967.
• Second Prize, International Youth Festival - the Composition Competition, Vienna, Austria 1959.
• GRAMMY NOMINATION for Best Vocal Arrangement of Charlie Parkers, Confirmation, recorded by Manhattan Transfer, 1981, on Mecca for Moderns.


• Lecturer at the Jazz Studies Department at USC, Los Angeles, since 1988.
Teacher at the GROVE music school, 1974 - 1992. 
• Music Director, the Comeback In jazz club Venice, CA, 1981 - 1990.
• Arrangement of Blue Rondo a la Turk, (Dave Brubeck), recorded by Al Jarreaus Grammy winning album of 1982, Breakin Away.
• Co-leader of the jazz-classical quartet FREE FLIGHT - BEST COMBO OF THE YEAR 1982, LOS ANGELES TIMES AWARD.
• Contracted compositions, arrangements and performances for: the AMERICAN JAZZ PHILHARMONIC, BEVERLY HILLS SYMPHONY, SOFIA PHILHARMONIC , the BULGARIAN RADIO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA and others.
• Arranger at Hessisher Rundfunk 1970-71,
• Music Director for the Big Band and the pop Symphony of the Bulgarian National RADIO & TV, 1962 - 1966.
• Composer for Bulgarian Feature, Animated and Documentary Films,1963 -1968.
• Leader and pianist, of the FOCUS 65 jazz quartet ,  1965 - 1970.
• Music director and composer-in-residence, State Drama Theater in Plovdiv, Bulgaria,
• Teacher of chamber music at the State Music School, Plovdiv, Bulgaria, 1960 - 1962.


• 1999-2000 Letter to America (international production -Bulgaria, Holland, Hungary)
• 1992 Chickpeas - Directed and Produced by Nigol Bezjian (USA)
• 1963 - 1969 * -Men, Tiny Secrets, Autumn Sun, The Eighth, Monday Morning (Shown at L. A. Film Expo after being banned by Communist regime for 25 years), Dangerous Flight, A Hot Noon, Detour (First Prize at International Film Festival, Moscow), Iconostasis (Shown at the Museum of Modern Art (N.Y.) Numerous cartoons and documentaries. Satirical serial FOCUS.
* Produced by Bulgarian Feature Film Studios

TV scores:

• 1973:  Doctors Hospital ( Co - writer w/ D. Ellis ) serial, UNIVERSAL.
• 1962 – 1968:  Numerous Bulgarian documentaries and shorts.


• 2003: concerts, and jazz club dates in Bulgaria, and Greece. Solo piano concert at Claremont College California.
• 2002:  concerts at the BIG CONSERVATORY HALLS in Moscow, and St. Petersburg .
• 2002:  honorary professor, NBU (NEW BULGARIAN UNIVERSITY), 10 days master class 2001 10 days master class on Formal, aesthetical & social aspects of jazz music at NBU ;  Concerts in Turkey, Bulgaria, and Brazil (with SAO PAULO JAZZ SINFONICA)
• 2000: concerts, and club appearances with trio LESENTU, Herbie Mann, Jack Sheldon, and others.
• 1990 - 2000 : lecturer on modern music at ELDER HOSTEL, Desert Hot Springs, California.
• 1999: Soloist, the Nuremberg Philharmonic; Concert of original chamber music in Sofia; Closing the month of European Culture in Plovdiv; International jazz festival in Bansko, Bulgaria.
• 1998: Leviev / Slon quartet, featuring Randy Brecker, Herbie Mann and Benny Golson at VARTAN JAZZ, Denver, Co.
• 1997: Gala 60th Anniversary concert at the NATIONAL PALACE OF CULTURE, Sofia, Bulgaria. Concert tours in Switzerland, Austria and Germany
• 1994 - 1996: Tours in Bulgaria, Israel, Switzerland and Germany.
• 1993-1995: President of the Jury - International TV-Music Films Festival (1994 & 1995) in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria. Solo piano recital at Seal Beach Chamber Music Festival, California.
• 1990-1993: European solo tours (France, Germany, Switzerland, Bulgaria) including seminars conducted at the BASEL JAZZ SCHOOL, and theVARNA INTERNATIONAL MUSIC FESTIVAL.Composed and performed Orpheus Rhapsody for piano and orchestra (commissioned by the National Endowment of the Arts for the American Jazz Philharmonic)
• 1983-1989: Japan tours with bassist Dave Holland. L.A. Theater Center- Expanded arrangement of Rhapsody in Blue for Valley Master Chorale and All-Star Jazz Combo, arranger and soloist). European tours 1985 and 1986. Sympho-Jazz Sketches (American Jazz Philharmonic) Dorothy Chandler Pavilion (composer and soloist)
• 1980-1983: Co - leaderFree Flight (Playboy Jazz Festival and other concert venues, the TONIGHT SHOW, and recipient of the LOS ANGELES TIMES BEST COMBO OF THE YEAR AWARD, 1982. Played and / or recorded with Charlie Haden, Joe Farrel, Eddie Harris, James Newton, and others.
• 1971-1979: Toured and/or recorded with: Lainie Kazan (music director ), John Klemmer, Art Pepper, Gerald Wilson, Bill Holman, Eddie Jefferson,Mark Murphy, Ernie Andrews, Michael Franks, Willie Bobo, RoyHaynes, Billy Cobham, Carmen McRae, Airto, Flora.Keyboardist, composer and arranger with the DON ELLIS ORCHESTRA (1971 - 1976).


• LETTER TO AMERICA (suite from the motion picture) for choir & chamber orchestra (2000)
• CHICKPEAS (suite from the motion picture) for jazz and string quartets (1992)
• THE GREEN HOUSE cantata for twelve voices and jazz trio (1991)
• ORPHEUS RHAPSODY for piano jazz trio and symphony orchestra (1988)
• THE GOLDEN FLEECE for piano and big band (1984)
• SYMPHO-JAZZ SKETCHES for jazz combo and symphony orchestra (1982)
• ELEVEN INVENTIONS for instruments, or voices (1978)
• A CHILDS DAY suite for piano (1976)-arrangements for woodwind quintet and string quartet
• ISSACS TOUCHSTONE for piano and symphony orchestra (1975)
• MOODY MODES for jazz orchestra (1974)
• WOLFGANG FOR ALL SEASONS for French horn, tuba, and jazz orchestra (1972)
• SLADKA PITKA for jazz orchestra (1970)
• NESTINARE suite for big band (1970)
• BALKAN COWBOY suite for symphonic-pop orchestra (1969)
• ANTI WALTZ for big band (1966)
• BLUES IN 9 for big band (1963)
• STUDY for big band
• THE ROSES musical (1962)
• A LITTLE OLD TIME MUSIC for symphony orchestra (1959)
• SONATA FOR VIOLIN AND PIANO (1957) orchestral version (1988)
• VARIATIONS ON A THEME BY CORELLI for piano and symphony orchestra (1956)


• MILCHO LEVIEV AT 60, live from the NATIONAL PALACE OF CULTURE(Sympho-jazz Sketches , Anti Waltz , and Blues in 10 ), FESTIVAL SYMPHONY & BIG BAND, L. Denev, cond., produced by theBULGARIAN NATIONAL TV, 1998
• MILCHO LEVIEV with the NATIONAL RADIO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, NyagolToumangelov cond. (Isaacs Touchstone and Rhapsody in Blue ),produced by the BULGARIAN NATIONAL TELEVISION1994 Milcho Leviev & Anatoly Vapirov in concert live at FESTIVAL &
• CONGRESS CENTRE , produced by STALKER, Varna, Bulgaria, 1993.
•  Milcho Leviev - a life in 33/16 , documentary, directed by Milan Ognianov,produced by TIME STUDIO, Bulgaria 1993.
• PLAYBOY JAZZ FESTIVAL 1982, Vol. 2 ( two Free Flight performances )produced by PONY VIDEO INC., Japan 1983.
• ART PEPPER NOTES OF A JAZZ SURVIVOR, documentary featuring M.Leviev,C.Burnett, and B.Magnusson, produced & directed by Don McGlynn for TOEIVIDEO.

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