“57 years ago in the village of Pirgovo, I tied a red ribbon to Shostakovich and sang a song to him”

“57 years ago in the village of Pirgovo, I tied a red ribbon to Shostakovich and sang a song to him”
“57 years ago in the village of Pirgovo, I tied a red ribbon to Shostakovich and sang a song to him”

Memories of the visit of the great composer Dmitri Shostakovich to the Ruse village of Pirgovo in 1965 reunited two of his thousands of visitors on the square – Virginia Pometkova, who was a history and French teacher at the time, and her student, now a professor of mathematics and informatics Tatyana Chernogorova.

The meeting between the two now elderly women and their stories about the organized public celebration in honor of the great composer are part of the filming of the documentary film prepared by the Ruse Opera about Shostakovich’s visit to the Danube city and the village of Pirgovo.

Shostakovich visited Ruse in 1958 and in 1965

“Dmitry Shostakovich was in Ruse in 1958 and in 1965,” Plamen Beykov, director of the Ruse Opera, told BTA.

He explained that in 1958 Shostakovich gave concerts in Plovdiv, Sofia, Ruse and Varna.

“In 1965, he was in Ruse again. Then he was a guest at the international festival “March Music Days”, when the Sofia Philharmonic, conducted by Dobrin Petkov, performed one of his symphonies,” explains Beykov.

The premiere of Shostakovich’s opera “Katerina Izmailova” in Bulgaria was on April 7, 1965 in Ruse. It was presented in the presence of the composer, who is an honorary citizen of the Danube city. The director of the production is Evgeni Nemirov, and the conductor is Romeo Raichev.

“This documentary film is financed by the program for cultural projects of the Ruse municipality and is a function of long-term research work, which is carried out with my help by the archivist of the Ruse Opera, Dr. Veselina Antonova. The work began two or three years ago and was connected with the compilation of exhibition for the 60th edition of “March Music Days”, which took place last fall because of the pandemic,” Beykov explained.

The director of the documentary is Stefan Prokhorov, and the cameraman is Keti Marinova.

“After the exhibition, we decided to concentrate on Shostakovich’s presence in Ruse. Thanks to the accumulated information, we found quite a few elderly musicians who played in the orchestra and were on the same stage with the composer. They shared wonderful memories and unique experiences with us,” explained Beykov.

According to him, the film will tell about the inner feelings of the artists and the combination of their emotional freshness, with which they perceived this world authority, with professional communication on stage.

“I think a lot of interesting information has been gathered. We filmed in Sofia, as some of the musicians live there. Now we continue in Ruse, as there are curious moments from Shostakovich’s visit in 1965 to the Ruse village of Pirgovo,” explained Beykov.

An old film strip reveals two of Shostakovich’s greeters

He said that Shostakovich visited Pirgovo for several hours, where there was a national celebration.

“Last year, Dr. Veselin Antonova discovered authentic film footage, through which we found some of the people who attended the celebration,” explained Beykov.

Dr. Veselina Antonova pointed out that the discovered film tells about the typical welcome of that era, when the village was full of many people.

“There is a greeting from the party leaders and from Shostakovich. Traditionally, the composer was greeted with bread and salt, and a student gave him a red ribbon. We recently went to Pirgovo and found 87-year-old Virginia Pometkova, who was then a teacher of history and French, and participated in the welcome. We showed her the footage in which she recognized one of her students, exclaiming: “Ah, that’s Tanya,” explained Dr. Antonova.

And Tanya is the 70-year-old Tatyana Chernogorova – professor of mathematics and informatics, who worked at the BAS, and then at Sofia University.

“At that time, the people of Pirgovo were very interested in the guests who came to the village, especially the cultural figures. Nikolay Gyaurov also came to Pirgovo, as did Shostakovich,” explained Virginia Pometkova.

The old woman remembers that when Shostakovich visited the village, the square in front of the school was full.

“People, people, lots of people. The organization was big. Shostakovich was a modest person, he didn’t have much contact with people,” says Pometkova, and Tatyana Chernogorova, who was 13 years old at the time – a student in the sixth grade, shares: “Shostakovich had a connection I tied him red and sang him a song”.

According to her, times were different then.

“There was a radio system in the village, on which the important news was announced twice a day – everything that interested the people of the village. So everyone knew about the visit of Tikhon Khrennikov and Dmitri Shostakovich. At that time, the attitude towards Russia and the Russians was different. We welcomed them as brothers. So at school we also prepared for this visit. Our Russian teacher, who is also my aunt, prepared me and my friend Ginka to sing a song by Tikhon Khrennikov, since Dmitri Shostakovich has no songs. We sang him the song “Druga ya nigida I didn’t forget it when I met him in Moscow”. As a child, I didn’t attach so much importance to it, but later I was convinced of the truth of these words when I was a graduate student at Moscow State University. Even now, I continue to keep in touch with my colleagues and friends from Moscow “, says Chernogorova.

A 40-kilogram live lamb embarrassed the great composer

According to her, Shostakovich was very excited after so many people welcomed him. He even got embarrassed.

“They even put some kind of lamb in his hands, but a live lamb. He was embarrassed because they would give you a 40-kilogram lamb in your hands… but there are traditions in Pirgovo,” Chernogorova smiles.

She says she doesn’t remember anything else from Shostakovich’s visit, even those moments she had forgotten, but she remembered after Dr. Veselin Antonova showed her the footage from the film.

The two women do not know why Shostakovich was brought to Pirgovo. According to them, the reason is that the village was very well developed then.

“We were a prominent village – a wine-growing leader. Everything was going well. They probably wanted to show him a blooming village. At that time, about 4,000 people lived in Pirgovo, there were also two schools,” explains Chernogorova, and Pometkova adds that the village also had four heroes of socialist labor.

The documentary will be ready by the end of the year

The director of the Rousse Opera, Plamen Beykov, informed that the documentary will be more than 40 minutes long. The tape should be ready by the end of the year, when it will also be presented.

Beykov says that there is another curious moment that has occupied Ruse residents for years – on which piano did Shostakovich play in Ruse.

“The team is now looking for the grand piano. We know that he played on the Steinway, but we will see in the tape what the assumptions will be,” says Beykov mysteriously.

The article is in bulgaria

Tags: years village Pirgovo tied red ribbon Shostakovich sang song

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