International Music Festival
The first Varna Music Celebrations were held at the Open-air Theater from July 23 to August 1, 1926.
The idea was initiated by eminent figures in the field of culture and education of Varna such as Gercho Gerchev, Ivan Kamburov, Vasil Stavrev, Nayden Naydenov, Yordan Todorov, who had found warm support from the composers Dobri Hristov, Pancho Vladigerov, Maestro Georgi Atanasov.
Within seven consecutive evenings prominent Bulgarian singers and musicians appeared on the Varna stage - Hristina Morfova, Constantsa Kirova, Petar Zolotovich, Pancho and Lyuben Vladigerov, Liliana Dobri Hristova. Besides the titular conductors, the symphony and choral concerts were also conducted by Dobri Hristov, maestro Georgi Atanasov, Pancho Vladigerov, Asen Naydenov, Dimitar Mladenov.
The first of the three symphony concerts was dedicated entirely to the Bulgarian music. For the first time, Dobri Hristov was conducting his symphonic fantasy Tutrakan Epopee in his hometown.
For the first time, the young conductor of the Sofia National Opera Asen Naydenov appeared before his fellow citizens with Nikola Atanasov’s Symphony in G minor. The last, final vocal concert was also dedicated to Bulgarian music. Works by Dobri Hristov, Angel Bukureshliev, Emanuel Manolov and others were performed.
The first Varna Music Celebrations in 1926 enjoyed the enormous interest of the Varna citizens, of holiday-makers and guests. Dimitar Savov's predictions said on the eve of the fest in “The Varna Post” newspaper were fully fulfilled: "Through the music celebrations the high level of our native musical art will be presented and it will be proved that the Bulgarian people deserve to be guaranteed conditions for spiritual development."
Important dates in the history of the festival:
July 23 - August 1, 1926 - First Bulgarian Popular Music Celebrations took place in Varna.
1957 - The Varna Summer Music Celebrations were resumed under the name "Varna Summer". Gradually, the best Bulgarian performers and ensembles as well as internationally renowned foreign performers were drawn into the festival programs.
1964 - The first International Ballet Competition in the world took place.
1966 - The festival established itself as the annual “Varna Summer” International Music Festival.
1987 - “Varna Summer” IMF became a member of the European Festivals Association.
More about the history of the festival you could find in the book The Summer of Bulgarian Culture (Prof. Rozmari Statelova)