Bulgarian Music and Musicians in Transition
Based on fieldwork conducted between 1988 and 1996 with professional Bulgarian folk musicians, Donna A. Buchanan's Performing Democracy argues that the performances of traditional music groups may be interpreted not only as harbingers but as agents of Bulgaria's political transition. Many of the musicians in socialist Bulgaria's state folk ensembles served as official cultural emissaries for several decades. Through their reminiscences and repertoires, Buchanan reveals the evolution of Bulgarian musical life as it responded to and informed the political process. By modifying their art to accommodate changing political ideologies, these musicians literally played out regime change on the world's stages, performing their country's democratization musically at home and abroad.
Performing Democracy and its accompanying CD-ROM, featuring traditional Bulgarian music, lyrics, notation, and photos, will fascinate any reader interested in the many ways art echoes and influences politics.
“The fall of the Berlin Wall launched a series of cataclysmic changes throughout Eastern Europe that have profoundly affected the region’s musical life. Performing Democracy situates itself on the cusp of those changes. Focusing on Bulgaria, it details both government-sponsored music-making during the final years of the socialist period, and an array of musical activities that developed during the period of transition to capitalism and democracy. Based on intensive fieldwork carried out over a period of several years, it is the most significant study to chronicle musical developments during this important period of Eastern European history.”--Jane C. Sugarman, State University of New York at Stony Brook
“The title of this excellent book is more than a play on words. Buchanan demonstrates how the professionalization of folk music by the socialist state for nationalist purposes actually validated notions of western modernity, making the democratic transition more attractive and placing professional musicians at an important political location. These observations help clarify
the rather complex and paradoxical political situation in postsocialist Bulgaria. Anyone who doubts the political power of music—or culture more broadly—should read this book.”--Gerald Creed, Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York
Preface and Acknowledgments
Notes on Transliteration and Pronunciation
Part I - Socialist Culture in Transition
2. "Going as Guests": Ethnography and Commensality under Socialism
3. From the Square to the Stage: Musical Life through the 1940s
4. The "Folkloric Philharmonia": Building Professional Ensembles and Orchestras
5. Writing Nationalism, Rewriting Tradition: Politics, Professionalism, and Music Composition
Part II - Nationalist Narratives: Marketing Bulgarian Identities through Folk Ensemble Tableaus
6. "Cutting the National Crystal": The "Koutev Line"
7. A Pirin Spectacle
8. Legendary Rodopa: Cradle of Orpheus
9. Thracian Tales
Part III - Ethnography and Antistructure
10. Balkana and Le mystère des voix bulgares
11. "Tell Me How a Pepper Is Planted": Song as Social History
12. Democracy or "Crazy-ocracy"? Musical Interpretations