The Bulgarian composer and musical pedagogue Lazar Kostov Nikolov was one of the important representatives of Bulgarian music during the second half of the twentieth century. He was born on August 26, 1922, in Bourgas. He started showing interest in music as a young child, influenced by his father and uncle, both amateur musicians, and tried both piano and violin. He was an active participant in his grade school’s concerts, and made his first attempts to compose at the age of sixteen. In 1946 he graduated from Professor Dimiter Nenov’s piano class at the State Music Academy. The following year he completed a composition degree from the same institution, studying with Professor Pancho Vladigerov. Also among his teachers at the Academy were Parashkev Hadzhiev and Vesselin Stoyanov.
Nikolov’s creative output is large and diverse. It includes two operas, six symphonies, arrangements for chamber, symphony, and string orchestra, choral works, sonatas for various instruments. He also created the music for many theatrical productions and Bulgarian movies and documentaries. His works have been performed throughout Europe, and in Brazil, Canada, the USA, and elsewhere. He participated in international music festivals such as Warsaw Autumn (1962, 1964, 1968), the Zagreb Biennale (1967), and Viten (1998). He is the author of the book My World (1998), in which his thoughts are published in the form of a series of interviews. Also an active pedagogue, Nikolov taught at the State Music Academy from 1961, retiring as a full professor of score reading. He was twice proposed as a member of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences; the first time his place was taken by another candidate, and the second time he refused to accept the academic title due to exhaustion. He was a member of the Union of Bulgarian Composers, which he chaired from 1992 to 1999. He received two honorary doctorates, the first from the Academy for Musical, Dance, and Visual Arts (Plovdiv, 1997), and the second from the State Music Academy “Pancho Vladigerov” (Sofia, 2002). He was the recipient of the order “Stara Planina” in 1997. His wife was the Polish violinist Anna-Lydia Nikolova; Their son Ivaylo is a graduate of the National Music School in Sofia, and their daughter Detelina is an animator.