Prof. Atanas Kurtev

Professor Atanas Kurtev, PhD, grew up in a family of rich musical traditions. His first piano teacher was his mother, Sasha Lambreva-Kurteva. He began his university education at the "Prof. Pantcho Vladigerov" State Academy of Music in Sofia (1964, Lili Atanassova's class), graduated from the "Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov" Conservatoire in St. Petersburg (1969, Pavel Serebryakov's class) and the Brussels "Queen Elizabeth" Conservatoire (1973, Eduardo del Pueyo's class). Then he specialized in Hungary in György Sebök's and Pal Kadosha's class and in France at Ivonne Léfebure's class. In 1977 he defended a dissertation on the agogic problems in the interpretation of Scriabin's piano works and took a doctoral degree. From the same year he began teaching at the "Pantcho Vladigerov" State Academy of Music in Sofia and in 1995 he received the title of Professor. He has given lectures in Styles of Piano Interpretation at the "Konstantin Preslavski" University in Shumen, Bulgaria.

Mr. Kurtev has made more than 950 stage appearances, of which over a hundred as a soloist of symphony orchestras in Bulgaria and in 18 European countries, Middle Asia, Turkey and Japan, including the Grand Hall of the Berliner Philharmoniker,  Hall of the Moscow P. I. Tchaikovsky Conservatory, the St.Petersburg Imperial Chapel, Hall of the St.Petersburg philharmonic, Brahms Hall of Vienna, Toppan Hall of Tokyo and other prestigious halls throughout Europe and Russia. He has released 3 LP's, 4 CD's and 7 recital programs for the Bulgarian National Television. In addition, he has made more than a hundred audio and video recordings for the Bulgarian National Radio, the Bulgarian National Television and abroad, including more than 40 premiere performances.

The numerous solo concerts the pianist has given feature over 30 completely different monographic mono-style programs, ranging from Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert to Franck, Scriabin and Bartok (performed on stage between 1975 and 2002), together with "The piano fantasia throughout the  centuries" concert cycle, including piano fantasias by 27 composers (1986-1987).

Parallel to his artistic performances Prof. Kurtev has been engaged in active educational, musical research and textological work, preparing the publishing of several music score editions, the book ''Piano-pianissimo''(1982), a number of articles and reviews. He is the initiator of the "Frederic Chopin" Musical Society in Bulgaria and his chairman (1997-2010), co-founder of music societies such as "Franz Schubert", "Richard Wagner''. During 2010-11 on his initiative the “Sergei Rachmaninov” (honorary chairman) and “Alexander Scriabin”(chairman) music societies were created. He has taken part in international scientific symposiums, master classes in ten European countries and has been a member of juries at more than 20 national and international piano competitions in both Bulgaria and abroad.

Prof. Kurtev is the founder of six periodically held international competitions for pianists in Bulgaria, including ''Chopin  in Memoriam'' (Varna), ''Franz Schubert'' (Russe), ''Classic and Contemporary'' (Stara Zagora), ''Liszt - Bartok'' (Sofia),'' Russian Music'' (Pleven), ''Schumann - Brahms'' (Plovdiv), as well as other national competitions for young pianists. Students from his piano class at the National Academy of Music in Sofia have performed to the public 81 completely different in style concert programs with music from the preclassic to contemporary periods, including integral performance of piano works by Chopin, Wagner, Scriabin, Rachmaninov, Ravel, Bartok (33 concerts in total) together with the presentation of complete genre works of famous composers (Schubert's sonatas in 5 concerts).

His students have won over 80 awards from national and international competitions. Among them are Assoc. Prof. Rostislav Yovchev, Peter Petrov (Belgium), Assoc. Prof. Martin Bachvarov (France), Prof. Yordan Goshev, PhD, Prof. Yavor Konov, PhD, Ivaylo Ivanov, Girma Yifrashewa (Ethiopia), Ayoshito Maeda, PhD (Japan), Radoslav Nikolov, Georgi Cherkin, Svetoslav Lazarov, Biser Genev, Andrei Angelov, Georgi Gadjev, Damian Tudjarov (Italy), Hristo Rachev (Germany), Alexander Lialios, Peter Andonov (England), Paskal Paskalev, Svetlin Hristov, Galina Vracheva (Switzerland), Elena Velcheva, Prof. Snezhana Simeonova, PhD, Elena Nemtsova, Maria Sofianska (Germany), Bogomila Nyagolova, Detelina Marinkeva, Bui Than Thao (Vietnam), Assoc. Prof. Milena Sotirova, Nediana Pavlova (USA), Assoc. Prof. Evgenia Simeonova, Assoc. Prof. Albena Kehlibareva, Svetlana Koicheva(Finland), Desislava Radeva (The Netherlands), Savelina Kancheva, PhD (England), Marina Savova (Germany), Emilia Tasheva (Switzerland), Veselinka Ivanova, Neli Vracheva (Switzerland), Elena Grozeva (Germany), Marina Savova (England), Pavlina Kangalova, Tsvetana Gigova (Belgium), Elena Skachkova (Switzerland), Hristina Taneva (Germany), Ivaila Ivanova, Elena Pargavelova, Georgia Petrova, Anelia Gospodinova, Boiana Palich (Serbia), Nona Krincheva, Pavlina Rangelova (Dubai), Anastasia Kaminskaya (Greece), Ina Ivanova, Kolina Valkova, Darina Titkova, Ana Yovanovich (Serbia), Svetomira Racheva, Nevena Todorova, Vlada Bespalova (Russia) and others. 


                          National and international awards and distinctions  ( 1995-2011 ) :

 1995  -  “Golden Muse” Special award for popularization of Russian culture in  Bulgaria

1998 -   “Crystal Lyre” from the Union of Bulgarian Musicians and Dancers

1999 -   “Golden Feather” from Classic FM Radio and the Sofia Municipality

2001 -   Order for distinguished cultural contribution from the Ministry of Culture of Hungary

2002 -   Order for special merits to the Polish culture from the Ministry of Culture of Poland 

2003 -  “Golden Muse” Grand Prix for outstanding achievements in musical culture

2005 -   “Golden Lyre” from the Union of Bulgarian Musicians and Dancers“

2005 -   Honorary member of the Sofia Philharmonic

2005 -   “Prof. Lyuba Encheva“ Award

2006 -   “Musician of the year“ from the Bulgarian National Radio

          2009 -   Book „Atanas Kurtev – a poet at the piano“ issued by the Sofia University Publishing House

          2010 -   The name of Prof. Atanas Kurtev, PhD is included in the encyclopedia “Scientific Glory of Bulgaria“

2010 -   Honorary member of the council of the Memorial Museum „A. Scriabin“  in Moscow

2010 -   Honorary medal „Alexander Pushkin“ for distinguished contribuition in the development of the         Russian-Bulgarian cultural relations (decree №1250 from 14.10. 2010  from the President of the Russian  Federation Dmitry Medvedev)

          2011  -  The name of Prof. Atanas Kurtev, PhD is included in „The World  Encyclopedia- Who is who“

2011  -  Knight Cross to the Order of Merit from the President of the Republic of Poland   Bronislav Komorovski for exceptional merits in the Global  “Chopeniana“ (decree from 21. 01. 2011)

2011 -   Honorable medal for contribution in the development of  the global musical culture from the Presidium of the „International Union of  Musicians“ in Moscow


                              Reviews about Atanas Kurtev’s concert career

 “…Atanas Kurtev is capable of organizing in an effective manner of his own the musical space and to turn the material to unworldly.”

Prof. Svetla Stoyanova, Narodna Kutura Newspaper, May 5, 1978

 “… Kurtev turns the interpretation into a penetrating intellectual and emotional process, to a creation of perfect and brilliant tonal forms.”

Angel Gerasimov, Sofia News Newspaper, March 17, 1982

  “…Kurtev is not only a virtuoso, he is also a poet at the piano…”

L’Atelier Newspaper, Brussels, Belgium, November 16, 1984

“…An instrumentalist of international reputation, he became one with the piano, drawing the amazing world of the solo part in Liszt’s Concerto No. 2…”

Mandok Paika, Avante Newspaper, Craiova, Romania, May 14, 1987

“…He plays with stoic certainty the fiery luscious passages…”

Jan Andersen, Politiken Newspaper, Copenhagen, Denmark

“… His music-making embodies the notability of an ‘exegesis’ in action. Being a firm believer in what he possesses as an unconditioned gift, he goes deep into Scriabin’s insight and mysteries.”

Trifon Silyanovski, Muzikalni Horizonti Review, Issue 1-2, 1993

“…With Atanas Kurtev’s recital the listener is introduced to a shrine created with human pain, impulses, love, courage and faith.”

Prof. Lilyana Antova, Kultura Newspaper, No. 43, December 1993

“… A remarkable pianist. Deeply absorbed. Possessing deep aristocratism of music-making and vivid colorful achievements…”

Prof. Konstantin Karapetrov, Music – Yesterday and Today Review, Issue No. 1, 2004

“…He performs Scriabin with a heavenly inspiration; that was an unearthly act. It was as if he himself disappeared; there was only music left, its power and the supreme power of talent…”

Prof. Genrieta Gamaleya, Moscow University, February 2009

“… An aristocrat of the keyboard spaces. A valiant knight and noble guardian of the piano values and traditions. A recognized discoverer and noteworthy interpreter of newer and newer pages from the piano inheritance. Oh, privileged, lucky and illuminated Bulgaria! Maestro Atanas Kurtev is her eminent son. For dozens of years the country’s concert life has been vibrating and feeling the great pianist’s performing revelations and creative inventions. Today he is in new orbits of his fruit-bearing creative trajectory. Atanas Kurtev – an esteemed symbol of Bulgaria !...

Prof. Georgi Petrov, in “Atanas Kurtev – a poet at the piano”,

Universe Publishers, 2009

“... For the Moscow enlightened audience there was no doubt that Atanas Kurtev is a musician of high culture, possessing a perfect technical mastership, romantic temperament and ability to artistic incarnation. For him, music is like an open book and each successive performance is a new inspired reading of the author’s sacred text... Prof. Kurtev belongs to those elected musicians who are gifted by nature with versatility, talent, wisdom, a good heart, nobility, charm. In his appearance there is something of Don Quixote and the Renaissance personality type. He was possesses encyclopedic knowledge, his master classes and research work in performing arts has always caused lively interest. He is extremely generous, which was evident even in the numerous encores with which he rewarded the Moscow audience... The work of Atanas Kurtev awakens in real fact bright thoughts and pure feelings in all those who are fortunate enough to communicate with him and listen to his concerts. His performance left brightness in our souls. Thank you, Maestro ! ”

Natalia Deeva, Merited Artist of Russia,

Professor at the P.I. Tchaikovsky Moscow Conservatory,

Muzikalni Horizonti Review, Issue №2, 2011

« Back