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Musical portraits

Peter Papakotchev was born January 8, 1913, in the city of Bitola located in present day Macedonia. In 1927 his family moved to the Bulgarian capital Sofia, where the young photographer began his career as an employee of the popular “Photo Datzov” studio, located at “Rakovski” street number 122 /the building which currently houses the NATFIZ Institute of theater and cinema/.

In 1934, Peter Papakotchev presented his first exhibition at the trendy “Alkazar” restaurant,which is presently the confectionary coffee-house of the historic Hotel Bulgaria. The evening was opened by the famed professor Alexander Balabanov, a highly acclaimed Bulgarian literary critic. The exhibition included a wide range of portraits, landscapes and thematic photographs.

Peter Papakotchev’s second exhibition opened in Varna in 1939 and received wide critical acclaim. On July 2, 1943, the iconic Bulgarian diplomat and publicist Simeon Radev opened the photographer’s third exhibition with a memorable speech at the “Bulgaria” concert hall in downtown Sofia.

During the allied bombardment of the Bulgarian capital in the winter of 1944 Papakotchev’s photographic studio, located on the fashionable “Lege” street number 29, was burned to the ground. Thousands of original photographs and photo films were destroyed. Later that year, the photographer was drafted into the Bulgarian Army, where he documented its military campaign until the end of World War II.

After the war Peter Papakotchev opened a new studio located at Sofia’s street “Kniaz Boris I” number 162. In 1950 he was awarded the title of “Photo-Artist” /one of the first in the country, with a diploma under registry number 10/.

In 1958, he relocated his photo studio to the Sofia downtown street of “Bacho Kiro” number 2, where he lived and worked until the rest of his life.

In 1988 Peter Papakotchev presented his retrospective exhibition with 300 signature photo portraits in the National Palace of Culture.

During his career spanning seven decadesPeter Papakotchev’s iconic photographs captured almost every notable member of the Bulgarian cultural, scientific and social life after the 1930s. His extensive collection of signature studio portraits includes images of the famous personalities, who shaped the image of the cultural, social and political life in post-war Bulgaria.

Peter Papakotchev is the only Bulgarian photographer honoured by the Sofia municipality with a memorial plate at his home, as well as with naming a street in a high-end Sofia neighborhood with his name.

The exhibition “Personalities of the Bulgarian musical classics” celebrates the 100th anniversary of the birth of Peter Papakotchev. It includes unique portraits of Bulgarian and foreign classical composers, directors and musicians.