About Lauren Brody
Lauren Brody was born in New York City, and has been involved with music since early childhood. A classically trained pianist, she received a B.A. in music from the City University of New York, and pursued a Master's Degree in Music before changing course to devote herself to the restoration and tuning of pianos.
She first became aware of Bulgarian music as a teenager, and was so deeply impressed with what she heard that, in 1969, she made her solo first trip to Bulgaria. That initial trip sparked a life-long interest and commitment to the music and the culture, despite the fact that Lauren has no Bulgarian ancestry. In 1971, during the Communist era in Bulgaria, when visitors from the West were not welcome in the region, it is remarkable that she received a stipend from the Bulgarian government to do post-graduate study in Bulgarian folk music at the State Music Conservatory in Sofia.
It was during this period that she was first introduced to old 78rpm recordings of Bulgarian folk music. These recordings were to become a subject of great future interest for Lauren. In 1990, she received a grant from the Fulbright Foundation to research the commercial recording industry in Bulgaria from 1900-1950. It was the the pioneer study on the subject, as most Bulgarian scholarship in the field of ethnomusicology was devoted to field research. The notion that commercial recordings were a valid avenue of inquiry did not have much traction among Bulgarian scholars at the time. Despite this scepticism, colleagues at the Institute of Music in Sofia were quite helpful to Lauren in the pursuit of her research goals. The results of that research are presented on the pages of this website and on the CD she reissued on the Yazoo label entitled "Song of the Crooked Dance". A monograph in both English and Bulgarian is planned for the the near future.
In addition to her research activities, Lauren has been an active performer and teacher of Bulgarian folk music and singing. She appears on two CDs as vocalist and keyboard player with the Yuri Yunakov Ensemble, and has been teaching at seminars since the early 1970s. She leads a dual life as a klezmer musician, and has been a member of Kapelye and Mikveh, with whom she has appeared in films, recorded and toured extensively through the U.S., Canada and Europe.
Click below to see a video of one of three recordings from 1971 conducted by Kosta Kolev at Radio Sofia accompanied by Trakiiskata Troika