Obituary: Conductor Julian Kovatchev Dies at 63

By Francisco Salazar

On Nov. 12, Conductor Julian Kovatchev died at the age of 63.

Born in 1955 in Sofia, Sofia-Grad, Bulgaria, Kovatchev studied violin and at the age of five he made his first public concert. After his first music studies in Sofia, his family moved to Germany, near Salzburg, where he studied with Franz Samohyl at the Mozarteum and got his degree in 1973.

He won a scholarship from Karajan-Stiftung and moved to Berlin and studied with Herbert Ahlendorf and Herbert von Karajan. He was awarded by Karajan during the last edition of the prestigious contest organized by himself in 1984.

He went on to make his operatic debut in 1985 at the Teatro Verdi of Trieste and went on to appear with the Teatro alla Scala, San Carlo in Naples, Teatro dell’Opera in Rome, Arena di Verona, Ravenna Festival, Teatro La Fenice in Venice, Teatro Massimo in Palermo, Teatro Comunale in Bologna, Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa and Teatro Comunale in Cagliari.

Throughout his career, he held many positions including the Music Director of the Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra, and Principal Director of the Symphonic Orchestra of Zagreb and Teatro Verdi di Trieste. Kovatchev also went on to become the Music Director of the Daegu Symphony Orchestra in 2014.

His repertoire included the music of Bellini, Verdi, Puccini, Gounod, Bizet, Leoncavallo, Massenet, Donizetti, and Lehar.

He went on to record several albums including Dvorak and Schumann’s complete symphonies.