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Milena Bozhikova

(b Vidin, Bulgaria, Sept 12, 1951). Bulgarian composer, conductor, and piano improviser. He was educated at the High School of Music in Sofia (percussion class under Dobri Paliev, 1965–71), and at the State Musical Academy in Sofia (1973–9), majoring in composition under Tsvetan Tsvetanov and Parashkev Hadzhiev, and orchestral conducting under Konstantin Iliev. He made his name as an active jazz pianist and composer, forming his own jazz trio and participating in several international festivals (in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Cuba, Romania, Germany, Portugal, and Yugoslavia). While a student he won the position of conductor at the State Musical Theatre (1977–86), bringing to the stage a number of classical operettas and contemporary musicals. His background also includes courses in conducting under Franco Ferrara (1980, Siena, Italy) and Edward Dawns (1981, Hilversum, Holland), and in composition with Anatol Vieru (...

Article

Claire Levy

(b Plovdiv, 19 Dec 1937). Bulgarian composer, pianist, conductor, arranger, and bandleader. He was internationally acknowledged for his innovative ideas, cross-cultural experiments, and contribution to the concept of fusion and free improvisation. Classically trained at the Bulgarian State Conservatory (1955–60) under Pancho Vladigerov (composition) and Andrey Stoyanov (piano), he is the author of numerous compositions in styles and genres including jazz, pop, symphony, chamber, film, and theatrical music. He conducted the Radio and Television Big Band in Sofia (1962–6) and led his own avant-garde quartet, Jazz Focus’65 (1965–8), which won the Critic’s Prize at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1967. In 1970 he left Bulgaria for political reasons and moved to the USA where he joined the Don Ellis Orchestra (1971–8), and later collaborated with the classical/jazz quartet Free Flight. He also played with outstanding jazz musicians including Art Pepper, Billy Cobham, and Dave Holland, among many others....