After the liberation, there was still no talk of art in the guild town of Vratsa. At that time, there were improvised school choirs that sang several patriotic songs for major holidays. For several decades since its establishment (1869), the local community center has maintained a rich educational activity, but there were no bright examples of musical and educational work. There were not enough prepared personnel to take on this. In the last years of the 19th century, the cultured, energetic and talented teacher Kosta Petkov came to Vratsa. He received his musical education in Russia. In 1893, he created a student choir at the cathedral, which later increased its membership and moved to the community center. Not long after, the city's first orchestra was created by local amateur instrumentalists (Dr. Atanas Boyadzhiev - lawyer, Haralambi Ankov - lawyer, Metodi Majdrakov - pharmacist, David Bocharov - teacher, etc.). Over the next few years, this orchestra performed lighter orchestral pieces and songs for choir and orchestra. In 1905, the music club "Lira" was created (at the community center), led by Hristo Kanev and Anto Boyadzhiev (father of the conductor Radosveta Boyadzhieva). In 1909, on the idea of Anto Boyadzhiev, Nevena Boyadzhieva and Nikola Mankov, a musical society named "Orpheus" was created, with the aim of uniting all music lovers in the city around the community center "Development". In addition to the performances of the choir and the orchestra, excerpts from operas were also planned. During the next three years, the conductors were: Kosta Petkov, the conductor Alexander Kantarjiev, Nikola Mankov and Dimitar Boyadjiev. The company also organized courses to acquire elementary knowledge of the history and theory of music. A fund was also created for the construction of a concert hall in the city. People from different backgrounds united by the desire to help the cultural upliftment. Nevena Boyadzhieva-Mankova left interesting memories: "I was eighteen years old then - I had a nice lyrical soprano voice. My brother Anto Boyadzhiev, a law student, was a lyric tenor, and my fiance Nikola Mankov, a young officer, was a pianist and choir conductor. With the help of music lovers from the "Orpheus" society, we decided to give one scene - "Gypsy Chorus" from the opera "Troubadour" by Verdi. In addition to my brother Anto and I, the following also participated: Bogomir Tousek - dramatic tenor and Ruska Seizova - mezzo-soprano. A large choir also participated. In the orchestra, the first violin was played by: Metodi Majdrakov, lieutenant Georgi Hristov (grandfather of the opera singer Dimitar Petkov), Todor Lechev (father of the great violinist Boyan Lechev), colonel Alexander Morfov - general staff officer (brother of the singer Hristina Morfova), Georgi Spasov - composer and cellist, Petar Dogramadzhiev and Nikola Nakov – flutists. Double bassist was Ivan Danov, later a famous lawyer.
The beginning of
On May 10, 1910, two scenes from the opera "Aida" by J. Verdi. In one scene: The high priest Ramphis gives the god-tempered sword to the warlord Radames to defeat the enemies; and in the other - the return of Radames from the battlefield with trophies and prisoners. Soloists were: Aida - Nevena Boyadzhieva, Amneris - Ruska Seizova, Radames - Anto Boyadzhiev, Amonasro - Bogomir Tousek. In 1912, a scene from the opera "La Traviata" by J. Verdi and also a complete presentation of the first Bulgarian opera - "The Poor Woman" by M. Manolov. In the same year, two scenes from Op. "Demon" by Anton Rubinstein and a scene from Op. "Faust" by Gounod, which unfortunately were not presented because of the Balkan War, because everyone had to go to the battlefield. The children's operettas "Snow White", "Cricket and Ants" by Panayot Pipkov, "Ball of Flowers" by Todor Pandev, with conductor Nikola Mankov, were also presented several times.
Between the two
Indicative of the development of musical life in Vratsa is the fact that the company's first performances coincided with the first performances of the Opera Society in Sofia. In 1931 a city-wide symphony orchestra was created at the community center under the direction of conductor Nikola Ivanov. Several concerts were held in which famous national and foreign performers participated, such as Tsvetana Tabakova (opera singer), Prof. Marto (violinist), Evgeny Zhdanovski (opera singer). At that time, the first children's music school was established in the city, which had as its main goal to introduce and educate children in the art of music and, over time, to "grow" personnel to join the choirs and the orchestra. For a few years, the orchestra reduced its activity and performances, but in 1939, the musicians discussed putting on a musical-stage work. The Russian operetta "Natalka Poltavka" was chosen by Artemiev and after hard work it was presented on the Community stage with great success on April 7, 1940.
During the period 1941-1944, various restrictions and persecutions by the fascist authorities brought musical life to a standstill. After September 9, 1944, conditions were created for a new rise of music in Vratsa. The city choir "Orpheus" was restored. A symphony orchestra was created, consisting of fifty people with conductor Petko Todorov. In 1945, the Russian operetta Natalka Poltavka was restored and presented many times. The orchestra also performed solo concerts with works by Beethoven, Brahms, Rossini. In the period 1947-1949, the operettas "Ulyana" by Statsenko (with conductor L. Kadiev), "May Night" by Lysenko (with conductor Kr. Metifishev) and the Italian operetta "Carmosinella" (with conductor Hr. Atanasov).
of the opera
From 1953, a new page in the history of the Vratsa symphonic work began. An independent opera was created in Vratsa, continuing the work of the "Orpheus" company. The initiators are Angel Angelov, Donagan Andreev, Dr. Al. Alexandrov, Petar Todorov, Dimitar Shonev and others. An opera choir of sixty people and an orchestra of forty people and about twenty girls participated in the ballet were created. All participants are amateurs - workers, teachers, doctors, engineers, accountants, military personnel. Soloists are also amateurs. On May 2, 1954, the curtain rose for the first complete opera performance in Vratsa, the opera "La Traviata" by J. Verdi performed entirely by amateurs. This event was reported by all metropolitan newspapers, as well as one German newspaper - "Deutsche Lehrerzeitung", Berlin, GDR. The opera "La Traviata" was performed 56 times. The next production in 1955. is "The Bartered Bride" by B. Smetana. In their work on this opera, the amateurs were assisted by the Czechoslovak embassy in Sofia, which donated the score, costume sketches and photographs from productions of the Bartered Bride by the Prague Opera, as well as a complete record of the opera on gramophone records.
The third production is the opera "Rigoletto" by G. Verdi, presented in 1956. The conductor is Nikola Ivanov, under the direction of Georgi Parvanov from the Sofia National Opera. On June 12, 1956, Vratsa`s homemade opera was presented to the Sofia public for the first time as part of a national review of homemade operas and operettas. The fourth production in a row is the opera "Pagliacci" by R. Leoncavallo. Todor Stoev stands at the conductor's desk. The school management, the conductor and the team take a firm course to not allow compromises in artistic terms. First of all, there are efforts to create an almost professional composition of the orchestra, and in this direction there is some success. The stage work was skilfully performed by a young director from the drama theater in Vratsa - Ludmil Kirkov. This opera has been performed more than thirty times. Vidin, Lom, Oryahovo and some villages were visited. The actor from the Sofia National Opera, P. Petrov, wrote interesting impressions about this production in the newspaper “National Youth”, No. 120 of 1957: "The opera has a wonderful ensemble. She is led by a hearty conductor. I cannot but express my admiration for such well-rehearsed parts, which add up to an excellent performance. But the participants should not forget that they still have a lot of work ahead of them both in stage and vocal terms. Let their success in "Clown" not make them "dizzy".
The next opera is "Troubadour" by J. Verdi. Conductor is Todor Stoev, director Georgi Parvanov, choir conductor Ivan Yonchev and accompanist Kiril Dryanovski. With this production, the opera collective visited the Sofia stage on March 19, 1959 and gave "unfortunately only one performance" as the "Literature Front" newspaper wrote in issue 13 of 1959. During the 1958-1959 season, it was the turn of a very difficult opera - "Madame Butterfly" by J. Puccini. The reading and interpretation of the complex images, the great musical difficulties of this melodic, but at the same time complex in terms of texture and intonation work, represent a peculiar feat for the self-made collective. During the 1959-1960 season, the collective focused on Bulgarian opera creation - the opera "Flowers" by Maestro Georgi Atanasov. In the 1960-1961 season, the opera "The Barber of Seville" by J. Rossini. This production was performed 38 times, in many villages and towns, with the greatest success being performed in three performances in the city of Pleven. In 1961, the comic opera "Love Elixir" by G. Donizetti was staged, and in 1962 - "Gergana" by Maestro Georgi Atanasov. In the 1961-1962 season, the opera "Kidnapping from Saraya" by V. Mozart was also staged.
In 1963, the opera troupe began work on the staging of "Bohemia" by J. Puccini - one of the most difficult operas, which is definitely a big challenge for the amateur team. A wonderful team: the new director Stefan Trifonov from the Ruse National Opera, the conductor Todor Stoev, the choirmaster Ivan Yonchev and the artist Dimitar Shonev take on the difficult and difficult task. This opera was a great success. Katya Popova from the Sofia National Opera is guesting in the role of Mimi. Her participation enthuses the team. She points out that "the performance is at a good level, with a faithful stage and musical interpretation, and it is not inferior to the staging of a professional opera theater." Within the same season, the operetta "The Queen of the Chardasha" by I. Kalman is staged. In the fall of 1964, the collective tackled the opera "Carmen" by J. Bizet. Mihail Hadjimishev is engaged as director, ballet director - Nina Kiradzhieva, both from the Sofia National Opera. The production is almost ready when an unexpected decision comes from the Committee for Culture and Art to withdraw the staff of singers and instrumentalists, which leads to the closure of the opera. The opera collective performed a wide repertoire program. He was not satisfied with a simple technical assembly of the musical and literary text, but carried out a highly artistic activity - he revealed the ideological and artistic concept of the works, he searched for style, author's handwriting, atmosphere, artistic images.
The new full time symphonic Orchestra
In 1966, a new full-time symphony orchestra was created at the community center "Development" with conductor Petar Ganev. The orchestra participates in opera and operetta productions, performs numerous concerts with famous soloists. On 01.01.1973, the orchestra was nationalized and the State Philharmonic - Vratsa was established with chief conductor Radosveta Boyadzhieva. Along with a number of concerts with a heavy program for the orchestra, numerous musical lectures are also held, aimed at the education of adolescents in Vratsa and the settlements of the district. The Philharmonic's program is rich and includes works from different styles and eras. Conductors of the orchestra were: Petar Ganev, Radosveta Boyadzhieva, Tsanko Delibozov, Dimitar Panov, Mihail Boyadzhiev, Valeri Vachev.
Vratsa Symphonic Orchestra
By decree of the Council of Ministers dated 27.07.2010, the Vratsa Philharmonic (together with the Vidin and Shumen philharmonics) was transformed into the Vratsa Symphony.
Concert life continues with symphonic, popular and operatic titles from all musical eras. In addition to a repertoire for connoisseurs, as well as a repertoire for the general public, the symphonies develop an educational program for their youngest viewers. Educational lectures and children's performances allow children of school and preschool age to touch the atmosphere of the symphony orchestra.
Over time, the Vratsa Symphony established itself as one of the leading concert orchestras in the country. The orchestra performs concerts in dozens of destinations each year. In addition to the long-standing musicians, the orchestra includes not only young and talented musicians from Vratsa, but also full-time musicians from other countries, including Italy, Russia, and Serbia.