When we are celebrating the 90th anniversary of the “Varna Summer” International Music Festival, we should first recall the words of the great Bulgarian composer, scholar, educator and publicist Dobri Hristov, born in Varna, who in 1928, on the occasion of the third Bulgarian Public Music Celebrations (ancestor of the “Varna Summer” Festival) said:
“I do hope that Varna Music Celebrations will become a good tradition in the cultural life of Bulgaria”.
Well, now in June 2016, we can say that this foretelling came true: the summer music festival in Varna is a tradition. Its inception in the sea capital of Bulgaria was not accidental, but quite normal – it was a response to an objective need of the city. Rarely such an event with so powerful presence in the future has ever appeared in the culture of New Bulgaria. So ended the appeal of organizers to the citizenship: “…let every summer, in the lap of Varna, our sea beauty, the Bulgarian music culture celebrate its development and flourishing!”
The Music Celebrations and “Varna Summer” were a deed of persons being not only organizers, but artists and aesthetes. The initiators invented the art festival for Bulgaria as a special and specific festive form to present musical creativity and music performing arts in the midst of harsh cultural environment at that time. As Varna is the summer oasis of Bulgaria, so the Music Celebrations and “Varna Summer” can be metaphorically interpreted as the summer of Bulgarian culture: symbols of joyful moments, of beauty and inspiring experiences which the festival gives us – this blissful caesura of everyday life .
Today we think Bulgarian Public Music Celebrations from the 20s and 30s and the “Varna Summer” Festival, held from 1957 until present, as a common tradition. Problems of periodization do not arise: the first period covers the events up to World War II, the second – the events from the 50s of the twentieth century up to 2016. The second period of the “Varna Summer” Festival (1957-2016) is divided into several stages – 1st stage (transitional) from 1957 to 1966, 2nd stage from 1967 to 1989 and 3rd stage from 1990 until today.
After a period of "self-identification" in the 50s and early 60s, from 1967 up to now the “Varna Summer” as the first Bulgarian festival has been constantly establishing itself as bright summer music festivities of international renown. The high acclaim came soon. “I believe this festival could become a great attractive center of international scale. Any musician and audience would come with pleasure during this time of year in your beautiful city." – said in 1967 Kurt Masur, then conductor of the Dresden Philharmonic.
We do emphasize the crucial role of the Varna Municipality for the preservation and consolidation of the “Varna Summer” International Music Festival throughout the years: the festival, face of Varna, is a priority among the cultural activities in the city.
Music critics, who observe carefully the events of the “Varna Summer”, often reflect on the nature of the oldest festival in Bulgaria (and one of the oldest in the world). They call it summer, colorful or festival of a resort town, and in view of its course in time – forever resurgent. For me, as its chronicler(1), the most precious quality of “Varna Summer” IMF, as "agent" of globalization in culture, is its ability every summer to present in an exciting way all that happen in music art around the world and in our country. With “Varna Summer” we are always up with the times.
Prof. Dr. Rosemary Statelova DSc.