Head of Department:
Prof. Svilen RAYCHEV, Ph.D.


In 1921 (when the State Academy of Music was launched), Ivan Vulpe and Dimitar Popivanov, renowned opera singers at the time and founders of the Bulgarian Opera Society, were invited to teach singing at the Academy.

Ivan Vulpe (1876-1929) graduated from the Moscow Conservatory in 1902 and obtained the title of a "free artist of the Moscow Conservatory" having studied under the famous vocal pedagogues K. Everardi and E. Mazetti. A talented bass singer, he started his concert career while still a student and later sang in a number of opera companies and in the famous private theatre of Zimin. For a while he was a staff artist of the Irkutsk Opera Theatre and in 1908 returned to Bulgaria where he founded the Opera Society together with a group of famous singers. He taught at the State Music School from 1912 and at the Music Academy – from 1921 to his death. Some of the most famous opera singers of the period, such as Ana Todorova, Mihail Popov, Hristo Brambarov, Ilka Popova, Konstantsa Kirova, Mihail Lyutskanov, Elena Nikolay and many others, were his pupils.

Dimitar Popivanov was a tenor, as well as one of the main performers at the Opera Society and a vocal pedagogue. Very shortly after joining the Academy they were both made professors for their creative and pedagogical achievements. In 1936 the period of study at the higher education section was extended to 4 years and the section was separated into a Section for the Education of Music Teachers and a Section for the Education of Instrumentalists and Singers, also known as the practical or special section.

In 1954 the State Academy of Music was renamed to Bulgarian State Conservatory. The period of study was 5 years for all majors (excluding Pedagogy). The existing two sections were transformed into three faculties: the Theory, Composition and Conducting Faculty, the Instrumental Faculty and the Vocal Faculty with two majors: Opera Singing and Concert and Chamber Singing.

A Singing Department and an Opera School with an opera class – a two-year form of postgraduate training – were established in the Vocal Faculty. During that period pedagogues of authority, recognition and considerable success were the professors Lyudmila Prokopova, Ana Todorova, Mara Marinova-Tsibulka, Tsvetana  Dyakovich, Hristo Brambarov, Ilia Yossifov, Georgi Zlatev-Cherkin, Elena Angelova-Orukin, Lyubomir Pipkov, the associate professors Mihail Yankov and  Stefka Atanassova. It was as early as the 1930s that the famous tenor Petar Raychev started working there as a vocal pedagogue, while the opera director Dragan Kardzhiev and the conductor Assen Dimitrov (Professors in later years) founded the Musical Theatre Department.

New courses were also introduced, including the course in Phonology which was obligatory for student singers and was taught by Prof. Ivan Maximov, Ph.D., author of Basics of Phoniatrics (1983) and Vocal Phonology (1993). The staff was then expanded. A centre of attention was the endeavour to place the vocal process on the right scientific and methodological basis, to make use of the achievements of world vocal pedagogy, to bring together the lecturers' views on the general acoustic and physiological principles, and thereby to achieve a specialised and well-rounded Bulgarian national singing school. The training of young vocal performers became much more versatile and comprehensive. Their artistic and performing culture bears the marks of the raised standards of the department. It holds regular creative discussions, research conferences dedicated to the issues of vocal pedagogy, to the main principles in the education and training of a young singer in the light of the contemporary aesthetic requirements.

The remarkable pedagogues Prof. Hristo Brambarov, Prof. Georgi Zlatev-Cherkin and Prof. Ilia Yossifov made an indisputable contribution to the development and adoption of the basic vocal training principles of the Bulgarian singing school.

Prof. Hristo Brambarov is one of the famous Bulgarian opera singers who studied singing in the Music Academy under Ivan Vulpe and in Milan from 1929 to 1935, where he studied under the famous A. Cecchi, L. del Lungo and E. Piccoli and at the same time started his career in Italian opera theatres – Ravenna, Milan and others, with an Italian and French repertoire. In 1936 he returned to Bulgaria, made his debut in Sofia Opera with Figaro in The Barber of Seville and then began performing baritone parts which brought him major recognition. Some of his unforgettable parts are that of Ugly George in Yana's Nine Brothers by Lyubomir Pipkov, the Dutchman in The Flying Dutchman, Boris Godunov, Scarpia in Tosca. In 1937 his brilliant pedagogical career started, marked by achievements of the highest quality which took pupils from his class to the heights of opera art in the world. These are the singers Nikolay Gyaurov, Dimitar Uzunov, Nikola Gyuselev, Ghena Dimitrova, Dimitar Petkov and also the magnificent Assen Selimski, Rafael Arie, Katya Georgieva, Valeri Popova, Stoyan Popov, Stefan Elenkov, Svetlana Kotlenko, the vocal pedagogues Lilyana Zhablenska,Vassilka Brachkova, Irena Brambarova,Konstantsa Vachkova, etc.

Prof. Georgi Zlatev-Cherkin is an all-round artist – a singer, a composer and a pedagogue. He graduated from the Vienna Academy of Music where he studied under Prof. Lierhammer who invited him to become his assistant and Cherkin worked under him at the Academy for a couple of years, teaching Bulgarian singers too –  the world-famous Lyuba Velich, who was Richard Strauss' preferred performer of Salome, and Lyubomir Panchev, soloist and Kammersänger of the Vienna Opera. In the period 1955-1958 he worked as a pedagogue in China – he taught in Peking, Shanghai and Tientsin with huge success and recognition. The class of Prof. Cherkin produced stars such as the soprano Anna Tomova-Sintova and the mezzo-soprano Alexandrina Milcheva as well as the vocal pedagogues Prof. Tsvetana Dyakovich, Assoc. Prof. Dora Mutafova, Prof. Rusko Ruskov, Assoc. Prof.Dora Mutafova, etc. He was the author of remarkable songs – for solo voice and choir, cantatas, operettas and chamber music.

Prof. Ilia Yossifov is a graduate of the Music Academy where he studied in the class of Prof. Ana Todorova; in 1943 he was admitted to the Opera School of the Vienna Conservatory to study under Maria Brand and right away joined in her activity – student performances, productions. Here his first part was that of Tamino in The Magic Flute – one of his crowning parts as tenor in Sofia Opera where he was the audience favourite for seasons in a row in the parts of Pinkerton in Madame Butterfly, Rodolfo in La Bohème, Alfred in Traviata, Lenski in Eugene Onegin, etc. He was an excellent performer of songs by Schubert and Schuman, among others. He was specially invited to teach at the Leningrad Conservatory and to work as a vocal pedagogue in the opera theatre in Riga, Estonia. Some of his pupils are the prominent singers Raina Kabaivanska, Blagovesta Karnobatlova-Dobreva, Pavel Gerdzhikov, Matti Pinkas (all three are long-standing professors in the Music Academy), Sabin Markov and the pedagogues Prof. Konstantin Karapetrov, and the famous Bulgarian music critic, Prof. Chavdar Hadzhiev. Some of the distinguished alumni of the National Academy of Music in the 1960s and 1970s are renowned opera singers such as Stefka Evstatieva who has made a brilliant international career, Hristina Angelakova, Kaludi Kaludov, Stefka Mineva, Boyko Tsvetanov, Rumen Doykov, and Dimitar Stanchev.


The Opera Singing major teaches the principles of bel canto singing. A basic repertoire is developed for the students and the opportunity for them to take part in spectacles of the Teaching Musical Theatre and join concert programmes and various forms of public performances. This also helps them develop good stage habits and behaviour. Also very valuable is the cooperation between the National Academy of Music and the National Opera, Stefan Makedonski State Music Theatre, Stara Zagora Opera and other opera theatres in the country which invite distinguished students to participate in their spectacles. Another excellent form for the development of students is contained in the Academic Competitions organised by the Faculty and in their preparation for national and international singing competitions.

Some of the pronounced talents who have graduated from the Vocal Faculty of the Music Academy in recent years are Vesselina Katsarova, Darina Takova, Mariana Pencheva, Nadezhda Krasteva, Tsvetelina Vassileva, Radostina Nikolaeva, Andreana Nikolova, Vladimir Stoyanov, Yuliyan Konstantinov, Lachezar Pravchev, Kamen Chanev, and Kiril Manolov.

Many Bulgarian vocal pedagogues have written and published research works and papers discussing vocal pedagogy issues, share their experience, methodology, achievements and new ideas, etc.

Department Staff:


Classical Singing

Prof. Mila DYULGEROVA, Vice Dean of the Vocal Faculty

Prof. Niko ISAKOV, Dean of the Vocal Faculty

Prof. Svilen RAYCHEV, PH.D., Head of Department



Assoc. Prof. Velizara KARAYANKOVA, Ph.D

Assoc. Prof. Nikolay MOTSOV, Ph.D

Assoc. Prof. Elitsa NESHEVSKA, Ph.D

Prof. Ivanka NINOVA, Ph.D




Chamber Singing

Prof. Blagovesta KONSTANTINOVA

Prof. Boryana LAMBREVA Ph.D

Assoc. Prof. Galina APOSTOLOVA, Ph.D

Blagovesta ANGELOVA, Ph.D

Assoc. Prof. Ermila SCHWEIZER, Ph.D.

Assoc. Prof. Elena KARALIISKA, Ph.D.


Part-time lecturers

Prof. Ilka POPOVA

Prof. Mayer FRANK


Rehearsal pianists









Svetlana SPASOVA


Stiliana IVANOVA