Stoyan Chobanov

1928 - 2002

With sadness we report that Bulgarian kavalist Stoyan Chobanov passed away from a stroke on January 2, 2002, in Sliven, Bulgaria. He was 73.

Throughout his life Stoyan Chobanov gave the whole of his vitality and creative energy to affirming and promoting the simpler playing style and simpler melodic forms of the Thracian kaval art as he learned them from the village players of his youth.

Born March 20, 1928 in the village of Terziisko near Karnobat, he learned kaval in a musical family of 8 children. Early in his life he met and played with Dragan Karapchanski, whom he admired for his warmth as well as his legendary virtuosity.

Chobanov had a long career in the Bulgarian army, serving for many years as director of the army cultural center in the city of Sliven. In 1960 he co-founded and directed the orchestra of the Sliven Ensemble for Folk Songs and Dances. He organized The Orchestra of 100 Kavals, which won a gold medal at the National Folk Festival in Koprivshtitsa.

He was the founding kaval teacher at the folk music high school in Kotel in the late 1960's, and served as the school's director for over 15 years. He was loved and respected by all for his integrity, his devotion to his instrument and his belief in the character and talent of the students.

Despite becoming totally blind in 1983 as a result of diabetes, he still continued to teach kaval students in Sliven, several of whom performed at Koprivshtitsa 2000, and to direct singing groups.

Although he was often recorded accompanying well-known singers, the CD entitled "Stoyan Chobanov" that he made for the American series "Bulgarian Masters" is the only album of him playing solo kaval. In 1999 at the National Festival of Kaval Players, an event which he had initiated years before, Stoyan Chobanov was presented with the first copy of this CD by the deputy mayor of Sliven in recognition of his lifelong contribution to the culture of Bulgaria.

He is survived by two children and four grandchildren, all of whom are musical. His wife Subka, to whom he was married for over 50 years, passed away in August, 2002.

Stoyan Chobanov once said, when asked about the interest foreigners had in Bulgarian folk music,

"Music is a bridge between people who make up the different nations of the world. It's precisely music that can make people love each other and to feel strong when they are together. Because it's music... with words and sentences you can lie to someone, you can hide yourself, be a hypocrite. Music can't fool anybody. Either it is or it isn't, it's either there or it's not."

Lyuben Dossev
Paul Morrissett
Bob Snider
Cathie Springer

Stoyan Chobanov's CD