Pancho Vladigerov

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The House Museum in Sofia

by Svetlana Avdala

From the top you can clearly see far away and feel how heights provide you with great wisdom and inspiration.

Pancho Vladigerov

It is hardly a coincidence that composer’s house, now turned into a museum, is located on the highest point of Lozenets Hill. Here you can feel Vladigerov’s style…

A quiet metropolitan residential district… The past has left its stamp on the place. There are a lot of construction sites and new, modern buildings around, but there is a fragment of old Sofia left. People know each other, smile in the morning, and greet each other. Streets are narrow. It is quiet and there are green open areas. Some small yards have been turned into pubs with a regular clientele. One first passes by the old, ivy-grown water tower. A little further, next to Vaptsarov Boulevard, there is a forest. Vladigerov's house is naturally integrated in the environment, but it conveys its own unique atmosphere. It is no chance that the composer bought it in 1951. It probably reminded him of his childhood house in Palnokladenchova Street, Shumen. It had been a one-floor house with ten rooms, chandeliers, and big mirrors. In his work, Vladigerov often returned to the old town of Shumen. Most likely, Lozenets also invoked memories of the intimate, patriarchal atmosphere of the town of the Bulgarian national revival.

Visitors first see a large gate with two hand-made chickens of wrought iron. They were ordered by Pancho Vladigerov. He used the symbol of the Union of Bulgarian Composers. As if from the very gate the Maestro gave a sign that there lived a composer, and not any composer, but a nightingale. According to him, “Vladigerche” means a songbird. The wide façade windows and yard’s open area create the impression of space, brightness and cordiality. Old neighbours still remember Pancho and tell various, funny stories about him. They usually note that music always sounded loudly from his house. Everybody was welcome to the house, especially his students…

A passing through squirrel reminds that there always was a pet in this house as well as of Nature, close to which Vladigerov felt best. The few pines in the yard and the bench with curved wooden armrests are very old. The greengrocery on the next cross street looks the same way as shot on photographs from Pancho’s personal archive. Even its sign is still the same, but rusty and black with time. As though the Maestro would come any minute, press his moped’s air horn, open the gate and have a few words with his neighbour, and his dog would impatiently bark. He would then go inside, drink his coffee on the folk-style porch in the daylight and enjoy the last sunrays of the day. He liked light very much and it streamed from his music.

It is afternoon. Vladigerov would sit at the piano in the morning and would work until noon. Composer’s study (with his magnifying glass and spectacles, “Grandmother Rubber” and “Grandfather Pencil”) has been preserved. He used to say: “Grandmother Rubber and Grandfather Pencil – write and rub out.” The whole walls are covered by photographs, hung up by the composer. Everyone is there: Herbert von Karajan, Bruno Walter, Max Reinhardt… Here one can feel composer’s importance, receive a clear impression of the heights he achieved and to which he raised Bulgarian music. His last opus still lies on his desk.

His work is amazingly integral, symmetric and lively, imbued with a national spirit. To his last breath, the composer worked as usual - 4-5 hours in the morning. This routine might have contributed to his vigour, harmony in and love of life. The place still reflects this atmosphere, because nothing in composer’s biography was pure chance. And it somehow left a trace after composer’s death. There was some system. Irrelevant and illogical episodes were erased with “Mother Rubber” in composer and his students’ compositions. Thus, everything touched by him reflected specific, “Vladigerov’s” logic and emotions. He created a world in his own style, conveying his messages… No accidental visitors came to this house. Not anybody could have been his student.

Nowadays this place is also visited by admirers. It not only brings music to people but also evokes memories and echoes spontaneously shared thoughts about the Teacher and Person. It means that his spirit is still present. As though Pancho would open the door and would say: “Did you write it?”

Today a student of his, a famous composer, shares with us: “Yet, there are indispensable people! Because Pancho Vladigerov is at the highest place – on the top.”