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Professor Timothy Rice Conferred a Doctor Honoris Causa Degree by Sofia University

Professor Timothy Rice was conferred the honorary degree of Doctor honoris causa at a solemn ceremony at Aula magna at Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”. The proposal for conferring the honorary title by the oldest and most prestigious high academic institution in this country came from the Faculty of History at the University.

Associate Professor Todor Popnedelev, Dean of the Faculty of History, said he was deeply moved to open the ceremony and presented briefly the CV of Professor Timothy Rice.

Timothy Rice is a professor of ethnomusicology at UCLA, Ca. and he has devoted 40 years of his life to the study, teaching and the preservation of Bulgarian folklore. He is an expert in traditional Balkan Slavic music, with special interest in Bulgaria. He has dedicated his monographs May It Fill Your Soul: Experiencing Bulgarian Music (1994) and Music in Bulgaria: Experiencing Music, Experiencing Culture (2004) to Bulgarian music. He has also published widely in leading journals in the domain.


Professor Timothy Rice has been working on issues related to the experiencing and understanding of music, music and politics, the semantic load of music, the teaching and study of music, theories and methods of musicology.

He is the founding co-editor of the ten-volume Garland Encyclopedia of World Music and is also its co-editor of Volume 8: Europe.

Professor Timothy Rice was editor-in-chief of Ethnomusicology (1981-1984), President of the Society for Ethnomusicology (2003-2005), Member of the Executive Board of the International Council for Traditional Music (2007-2013). He was Associate Dean of the UCLA School of Arts and Architecture (2005-2008) and served as director of the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music (2007-2013).

In 2011 Professor Rice was elected foreign member of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

Professor Timothy Rice is a cavalier of the Order of S.S. Cyril and Methodius, II Degree, awarded to him for his exceptionally outstanding contribution to the popularization of Bulgarian folklore, culture and art.

In the words of the Dean of the Faculty of History Associate Professor Popnedelev what was remarkable was the deep respect Professor Rice showed to Bulgarian forlklore and everything that our society had achieved through the ages.


Professor Reneta Bozhankova, Vice-rector of the University, conferred the high distinction to Professor Timothy Rice, and he, in his turn, expressed his deep gratitude for the bestowed honour.

Professor Timothy Rice pointed out that that distinction was particularly personal and emotional to him since it was linked with his love to Bulgaria, the Bulgarians, and Bulgarian culture and music. He delivered his academic address An American Life in Bulgarian Music in Bulgarian. In his address he recalled the times when his first touch with Bulgaria got started. In 1972-1973 he undertook field work in Bulgaria related to his Ph. D. thesis. Professor Rice expressed his gratitude to his tutor in Bulgaria, Professor Nikolay Kaufmann and thanked a number of Bulgarian musicologists from the Academy of Music in Sofia, such as Rayna Katsarova, Venelin Krustev, Todor Todorov, Mihail Bukureshtliev and many others, for their cooperation and support.


Professor Timothy Rice spoke about interesting events and comic situations he had got in during his stays in this country over the past years. He remarked that in his academic career he had been following two parallel routes: his interest in ethnomusicological theory and his interest in Bulgarian music.

In his speech Professor Rice stated that if written theory is verbal and cognitive, then the shots of a film are non-verbal and precognitive. “They activate directly the emotions and the body sensations of the viewer. While watching films we both laugh and cry. We do that instinctively. Our body reacts before our mind. The film both reaches and touches us. It offers a link with human experience“, Professor Rice added.

Amongst the major upshots in his academic speech was the issue of whether ideas that were left untouched in his documentary film May It Fill Your Soul should form part and parcel of a theory in the sense of a written theory and whether documentaries theorize on the essence of music and its correlation with culture in a way comparable to that of written theory.

During his lecture Professor Rice presented videoclips of Bulgarian folk songs and analyzed their impact on the audience.