'Sound Portraits from Bulgaria: A Journey to a Vanished World' Tells the Story of a Changing Culture, Out Nov. 1
Between 1966 and 1979, educator and cultural documentarian Martin Koenig made half a dozen trips to Bulgaria determined to study the folk dances of rural communities throughout the country. As he traveled, absorbing the culture and speaking with the people he encountered, Koenig became captivated by the earthy and ancient, yet very much alive, music he heard all around him. He recorded the music he was exposed to, and took photographs of not only dancers, but the village singers and musicians as well as those going about their daily lives around these hotbeds of creative expression.
Although much of this music went unheard for over 50 years, on November 1st Smithsonian Folkways will issue much of Koenig’s archive as Sound Portraits from Bulgaria: A Journey to a Vanished World, continuing its core mission to preserve rare and endangered musical traditions and share them with the world. The collection is housed in a large format art book featuring intimate and candid photographs taken during his travels that chronicle the beauty and complexity of life for the musicians, dancers, and artisans he met, as well as recollections by Koenig, and notes on the music by several leading American and Bulgarian scholars in both English and Bulgarian. The release celebrates a way of life that has largely vanished due to industrialization, technological shifts, and emigration, telling the story of a rural lifestyle that was shifting rapidly during the mid-20th century and continues to evolve today.