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Tzankov, Iossiffree

(b Ruse, 7 Nov 1911; d Sofia, 24 Oct 1971).
  • Claire Levy

Bulgarian composer, acknowledged as the father of Bulgarian schlager/pop song and a contributor to the acculturation of Western urban mentality in music during the decade before World War II. In 1939 he graduated from the Law Faculty of Sofia University and, in parallel, took lessons in music theory and composition with Pavel Stefanov and Vesselin Stoyanov. Along with his prolific work as a composer in the 1930s and 40s when he wrote numerous vocal and instrumental pieces, including tangos, foxtrots, rumbas, and waltzes, as well as operettas for the Odeon Theatre in Sofia, he was among the founders of the Bulgarian Radio in 1936 and managed the gramophone label London Records (1937–40). Among the most popular of his songs created in the 1950s were Kervanut (‘Caravan’) and Spi, moya malka sinyorita (‘Sleep, My Little Señorita’). However, after World War II the genre of schlager was a subject of political speculations on the part of the communist party who proclaimed it a low art and responsible for the dissemination of Western culture and regarded it as ideologically suspect. In the 1960s, with the change of the ideological climate that opened more liberal opportunities for different forms of art, he wrote a number of new lyrical pop songs, which revealed fresh aspects of his melodic gift and imposed a sense of sentimentalism, close to what was in demand among the dominant public. Most of these songs, including Lunni luchi (‘Moon Rays’), Pesen moya, obich moya (‘Song of Mine, Love of Mine’), Subota vecher (‘Saturday Night’), and Povey, vetre (‘Blow You, Wind’), performed by top pop singers of the time such as Pasha Hristova, Lili Ivanova, and Yourdanka Hristova, were hugely popular and recieved prestigious prizes at The Golden Orpheus Pop Music Festival.