Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)



Document Type



Lazar Nikolov (1922-2005) was a representative of the so-called third generation of Bulgarian composers. Together with his closest friend, composer and conductor Konstantin Iliev, Nikolov founded the postwar avant garde in Bulgaria. He was among the first composers in Eastern Europe to abandon the influence of musical folklore and employ non-tonal techniques. Shortly before graduating from the State Academy of Music in 1946, Nikolov felt that the masters from the previous two generations had already used all the successful means to incorporate neo-Romantic features and Bulgarian folk material into art music. He was perceptive enough to recognize the danger of his generation's music sounding like mere imitation of what was already there before, unless some radical changes were made. Nikolov had the misfortune to live and work in Bulgaria at a time when any hint of connection with the avant garde music of Western Europe was frowned upon and severely criticized in the entire socialist bloc. This document is an attempt to explain how Nikolov's work was crucial to the development of professional music in Post-second World War Bulgaria. The main focus is on two chamber works involving string instruments: Piano Quintet (1959) and First String Quartet (1965). The former is a piece from Nikolov's early compositional period. It is one of the most successful works demonstrating a peculiar approach to twelve-tone writing. The latter is a piece from his second period. It reflects the composer's fascination with timbre. This paper consists of five chapters. The first chapter provides a brief historical review of the musical situation in Bulgaria before and during Nikolov's lifetime. The second chapter is a short biography. The third chapter presents a concise examination of Nikolov's style and aesthetical views. In the last two chapters, analyses of the selected works follow. By analyzing these two works, one gets an idea of the composer's aesthetics and goals in the medium of chamber music on the one hand; on the other hand, one acquires an understanding of Nikolov's deep knowledge of and incessant curiosity for stringed instruments.



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Committee Chair

Kevork Mardirossian



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