The Society of Folk Dance Historians (SFDH)
Marcus Branicheff Moskoff
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Information: Marcus (Holt) Branicheff Moskoff, musician and teacher of Bulgarian dance.
Marcus was born on June 9, 1955 in the small farm town of Avenal (near Fresno), California. Marcus was first exposed to Slavic music in the Russian Orthodox Church of Fresno. At the age of twelve, after his family relocated to the San Francisco Bay area, Marcus began his interest in folklore through the Bulgarian communities on the west coast, learning the basic National dances along with developing the ability to play village instruments. Four years later, he traveled to Sofia, Bulgaria, as a guest of the Bulgarian government to study folk instrumental music and dance with the Pioneer Dance Ensemble.
After a brief stay in the United States, he returned to Bulgaria in 1974, this time basing his dance studies around the National Folk Choreography School in Plovdiv, while enhancing his musicianship by playing for village weddings with Kaval master Stoyan Dimoff. He began performing with the State Youth Ensemble in Sofia, Bulgaria, and the Yambol Folklore Ensemble in Bulgarian Thrace. He is a gadulka graduate of the State conservatory in Plovdiv. Marcus soon changed his surname from Holt to Moskoff but retained his United States citizenship.
In 1978, Marcus traveled through Bulgaria once again as guest of the Bulgarian government. During this time, he carried out concentrated research in folklore with emphasis on its contemporary aspects. He used this knowledge, along with the material from past visits, to give a more cultural, all-encompasing presentation of Bulgarian folk dance.
In 1979, Marcus staged a suite from the Bulgarian Stara Zagora region of Thrace for the Westwind International Folk Ensemble.
Marcus was at one time associated with the acclaimed Koleda Ensemble of Seattle, Washington. In the 1970s, his sister was in Lynn Manners band Ansambl Obicni Ljudi in Sacramento, California.
Marcus taught at major workshops and festival-institutes in many cities across the United States and choreographed and composed suites of dance and music for several folk ensembles. He directed three different orchestras, playing for years with Ensemble Trakiya in Santa Barbara, California. He was equally accomplished playing the gajda and gădulka. The Nestinari Bulgarian Folk Orchestra, which he directed, has become the "choice" ensemble among west coast Bulgarian populations, and was touted as "one of the most brilliant and versatile Balkan groups ever assembled."
Among Marcus's publications is
Marcus produced several fine recordings of Bulgarian dance music.
Marcus is featured on a music CD called
Marcus resided in California. He was married to Anastasia (Asya) with whom he had a daughter, Elitsa.
Marcus died on September 10, 2012, in a San Jose, California hospital.
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