The prominent Bulgarian conductor Borislav Ivanov has over 3,000 performances and symphony concerts in his resume.
He was born in 1931 in Varna. He was a student at the First Secondary Boys’ School in Varna and used to conduct the choir and the orchestra of the school. His repertory at that time included the overture to the opera “Iphigenia in Tauris” by Gluck. He also studied at the School of Music in his home town.
He graduated the State Music Academy – Sofia – in the specialty “Choir Conducting” under Prof. Georgi Dimitrov and “Orchestra Conducting” under Prof. Vladi Simeonov. When still a sophomore at the Academy he conducted amateur choirs, as well as the choir and orchestra of the Ministry of Electrification, which is how he earned his first fees. B. Ivanov sees this as the start of his career as professional conductor which has been going strong for over 55 years now!
At the state choir conducting exam, the student conducted a choir scene from the 4th act of the opera “Carmen” – with this masterpiece by Bizet he would later tour dozens of stages, including the one in Seville, where the action takes place. His state exam in conducting was on “Once Upon a Time” by Parashkev Hadjiev with the Varna Opera, which initiated a long and fruitful cooperation of the young conductor with the famous composer, as well a sterling defense of Bulgarian music art.
After his graduation, B. Ivanov returned to Varna and made his first steps on the professional opera stage. In 1963 at the “Varna Summer” festival, he was noticed and highly appreciated by German conductor Kurt Masur, who invited him to do a specialization at the Komische Oper in Berlin.
The following year B. Ivanov had the unique opportunity to work under the great Maestro Herbert von Karajan at the Berlin Philharmonic, who recognized the talent of the young Bulgarian and recommended him for General Music Director of the Berlin symphony orchestra. Borislav Ivanov remained on this post for all of 40 seasons, which deservedly brought him the highest award of the Federal Republic of Germany “Great Cross of Merit” – ² class, awarded to him in 1994 by president Richard von Weizsaecker.
In the period 1958 – 1970 Borislav Ivanov was conductor and deputy director of the Varna Opera. From 1970 to 1975 he was a conductor in the Plovdiv Opera House, and from 1975 to 1979 he was director and chief conductor of the Varna Opera House. In 1985 he was back in Plovdiv as conductor and director of the Plovdiv Opera House. From 1 September 2004 to December 2007 he was director of the Sofia Opera House. In the meantime, he was chief music director of the opera house in Ankara and deputy general music director of the Ankara Opera House and deputy general music director and first conductor of the Opera House in Kassel, Germany. In early 2010 he was invited to assume the position of Chief Art Director of Opera and Philharmonic Society – Varna, as an undisputed authority in the field of Bulgarian music and performing arts.
The conductor has over 100 titles in his repertory of classic and modern composers, among which: “Les Pêcheurs de Perles” (“The Pearl Fishers”) (Bizet), “Othello”, “Aida”, “Nabucco”, “La Traviata” (Verdi), “Eugene Onegine” (Tchaikovsky), “Boris Godunov” (Mussorgsky), “Cavalleria Rusticana” (Mascani), etc. A number of them are cantatas and oratorios, including “Carmina Burana” (C. Orff) and the Ninth Symphony (Beethoven).
B. Ivanov often tours with Bulgarian opera troupes prestigious music festivals in Spain, the island of Malta, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Korea, etc. He has conducted performances of the Bolshoi Theatre, Deutche Oper, and Staatsoper – Berlin, the Vienna State Opera, etc.
For his overall career achievements he was awarded the order “Cyril and Methodius”, the honor award “Plovdiv”, a gold medal of the Italian government for contribution to the Italian opera music, as well as the most prestigious award of Germany.