Sunday, May 25, 2014

Beethoven With a Bulgarian Accent; Mozart goes Greek

Freude, schoener Goetterfunken, ,
Tochter aus Elysium,
Wir betreten feuertrunken,
Himmlische, dein Heiligtum.
Deine Zauber binden wieder
Was der Mode Schwert geteilt
Bettler werden Fuerstenbrueder
Wo dein sanfter Fluegel weilt

Friedrich Schiller, An Die Freude, first stanza
used by Ludwig Van Beethoven in the last movement of his Symphony #9 in D minor

About a year and half ago I wrote a post on classical composers inspired by Balkan folk music.  Today you will hear the opposite: Balkan folk music with allusions to Beethoven and Mozart.

The first video is the music for the Bulgarian folk dance Opas, played by the Orchester Sabor at a performance in Trier, in Germany.

By the way Trier is a very lovely city.  I have been there many times to shop, visit the Roman ruins, the museums, and drink wine.  The best known structure is the Porta Nigra (Black Gate) which has stood over the city for over 2000 years.  Also, you can see the remains of what were Roman baths. The Roman bridge over the Mosel River carries traffic to this day. There is even a house where Karl Marx once lived; it is now a museum.

Porta Nigra in Trier, by KDB

What makes this version of Opas unique is that the band uses a bit of Beethoven's Ode to Joy from the 9th Symphony. It has a unique sound played on the gaida and the accordion (violins are more typical symphony orchestra instruments.)  The Beethoven starts at 2:58, but the whole piece is worth a listen.    You can even dance to it (looks like the gaida player wants to give it a try, but I imagine it's difficult to dance and play a bagpipe at the same time).

The next piece is a Hasapiko, which during the Middle Ages was the dance of the Greek Butchers' Guild.  There are many versions of Hasapiko done to different tunes.

This one is based on  Mozart's Symphony #40 in G minor, first movement, and sung in Greek.  I have no idea what the words mean, if someone could post a translation in the "comments" section, it would be much appreciated!

The group is from Hong Kong. If you're a regular here you know that Balkan folk dance is very popular in China!

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

Classical Composers Inspired by Balkan Folk Dances

Two Variations on a Bulgarian Folk Dance: Opas

Allusions, Musically Speaking

Classical Musicians Play Folk Music from Bulgaria and Romania

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Monday, May 19, 2014

Dancing Across Borders: Ripna Maca

The Internet knows no national borders.
Alan Dershowitz

Today's dance is Ripna Maca. It is related to Chetvorno Horo in that it uses similar steps and has the same rhythm  (pineapple-apple-apple).  For the musicologists out there, the time signature is 7/16. There are several border crossing dances, for example: Godecki Cacak, that have dual citizenship. The jury is still out as to whether it is Serbian or Bulgarian, but to most of us dancers, it doesn't really matter.

Ripna Maca #1 is from East Serbia.  There is a Shope region in Serbia, and also across the border in Bulgaria. Dances from this area tend to be fast and done with a belt hold.

The lyrics describe a cat who steals sausage from the pantry.  I've lived with a number of cats and they are always getting into trouble.  One of their vices is stealing food meant for humans, especially meat.  That is usually not a problem unless they get into the roast that was designated for company. Nobody wants to eat Kitty's leftovers.

Ripna Maca #2  is from Bulgaria. . The leader calls the steps (in English). They have some interesting names: cross step, hop and horse.

Ripna Maca #3: same dance as the previous video with different music. It's heavy on clarinet and brass and I like it very much.

Recently, the Bulgarian National radio featured The Clarinet in Traditional Bulgarian Folk Music. They have some really good vintage recordings from their archives.

You can also read my post The Clarinet in Bulgarian Folk Music  and why some people consider it an "instrument of torture."

If you enjoyed this you may also like

The "Flavors" of Serbian Cacak

Three Variations on a Bulgarian Folk Dance Chetvorno Horo

Bulgarian Folk Music for the Year of the Horse

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Bulgarian Folk Dance in the United States

About two years ago I wrote a post titled:  Bulgarian Folk Dance Around the World. Recently there was something posted on the Bulgarian National Radio about the popularity of Bulgarian folklore in the United States.

Why is Bulgarian folk music so popular in the United States?  Folk dancers have been dancing to it for many years.  There was also an influx of immigrants from Eastern Europe shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.  Many settled in large cities: New York, Boston and Chicago, among others. They joined the folk dance groups, in part, because they saw like-minded people.  Another reason was homesickness...the dances brought back memories of home.

The first video features dancers from Ethnic Dance Chicago.  They have an active community on Facebook, and I found this gem from the 4th Verea Festival.  The group performs a medley of dances from the northern and Thracian folklore regions.

The next group is Ludo Mlado from the Boston area, and this is a performance from last year's Balkan Music Night, an annual event which takes place on the third Saturday in March. Here, Ludo Mlado performs a medley of dances from the Pirin region of Bulgaria.

Rosa, from Atlanta, is another group I found during my forays on the Universe of YouTube. The dance is Petrunino Horo.

If you enjoyed this you may also like:

I Can't Believe They're Not Bulgarian: The Yale Women's Slavic Chorus

Bulgarian Folk Dance Around the World

Balkan Music Night 2014 (the backlinks to previous Balkan Music Night events can be found at the end of this post).

Please stop by and visit Light and Shadow, my other blog. This month's theme is Mother's Day and feminism.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.