Sunday, August 21, 2011

Dobri Hristov and the Bulgarian National Anthem

Mila Rodino ("Dear Motherland") is based on the music and text of the song Gorda Stara Planina ("Stately Stara Planina") composed by a 22-year old student, Tsvetan Radoslavov, as he left home to fight in the Serbo-Bulgarian War in 1885. Stara Planina is the traditional Bulgarian name of the Balkan mountains, extending 560 km from East Serbia, through central Bulgaria to the Black Sea. Radoslavov was born in Svishtov in 1863, and he later graduated in philosophy in Leipzig. His original song, Gorda Stara Planina was adapted by the composer Dobri Hristov in 1905 and became the national anthem of Bulgaria in 1963, replacing the previous anthem, "Balgariyo Mila" (Dear Bulgaria) composed by Georgi Zlatev-Tscherkin, Svetoslav Obretenov and Georgi Dimitri. Radoslavov was also a well-known scientist in Bulgaria and despite invitations to work in Vienna, Leipzig and Prague, he returned to Bulgaria to teach European and ancient languages, psychology, ethics and logic at the Third High School for Boys in Sofia.

Incidentally, Dobri Hristov (1875-1941) was one of the most important Bulgarian composers of the 20th century. Born in Varna, Bulgaria, he graduated from the Prague Conservatory in 1903 (the director at the time was none other than Antonín Dvořák). Hristov wrote orchestral and choral works using elements of Bulgarian folklore. The text of the anthem has been changed on several occasions, most recently in 1990. Bulgaria also has a Royal anthem composed by Emanuil Manolov, and the lyrics by Major General Georgi Agura.

Above is a stamp of Dobri Hristov issued by Bulgaria in 1975 to celebrate the centennial of his birth.