1981 marks the 120th anniversary of the, first publication of the collection 'Bulgarian Folk Songs', which was compiled by the brothers Dimiter and Konstantin Miladinovi (Zagreb, 1861). This is an impressive event in the history of the Bulgarian folklore study and of the Bulgarian culture. In the middle of the 19th century several remarkable collections of Bulgarian folk works were published in a period of six years: 'Bulgarian Songs from the Collections of Y. I. Venelin, N. D. Katranov and other Bulgarians' (by the Russian scholar P. Bezsonov (Moscow, 1855); 'Register' by G. S. Rakovski (Odessa, 1859); 'Folk Songs of the Macedonian Bulgarians' by the Bosnia archaeologist and ethnographer S. Verkovich (Belgrade, 1860); 'Monuments of the Popular Customs of the Bulgarians' by L. Karavelov (Moscow, 1861) and the above mentioned collection by the Miladinov brothers. They all revealed before the scholars the folklore wealth of the Bulgarian people which was then under Ottoman domination. The collection compiled by the Miladinov brothers is the most important of them.

Dimiter (1810—1862) and Konstantin (1830—1862) Miladinovi were born in the town of Strouga situated by the beautiful Ochrida lake. Though coming from a modest family of a craftsman the two brothers received solid education. Dimiter first studied in the Greek school in Ochrida and then in the Greek secondary school in Yanina. Trained as a Hellenist teacher he lectured in Ochrida, Strouga, Kukush and Bitolya to the end of his life and everywhere he organized schools, enlarged their programs of studies, attracted a lot of students manifesting brilliant pedagogic abilities. At the same time Dimiter Miladinov waged struggle against the Hellenization of the Bulgarian schools which experienced a strong Greek influence. When Bulgaria fell under Ottoman domination (at the end of the 14th century) the Bulgarian church became subordinated to the Greek Patriarchate in Constantinople. The high Greek clergy which stayed in the Bulgarian bishoprics manifested strong aspirations for Hellenization. The Greek schools contributed to this as the Bulgarian children had to study in them for lack of well organized Bulgarian schools at the beginning of the 19th century. Although Dimiter Miladinov graduated a Greek school he remained a Bulgarian patriot throughout his life and worked for the setting up of Bulgarian schools.

His younger brother Konstantin followed his brother's path. He attended school in Strouga, Ochrid and Kukush and then Dimiter sent him to graduate secondary school in Yanina. Two years Konstantin was a teacher in the village of Turnovo near Bitolya. In 1849 he went to Athens and graduated Hellenic philology in the Athens University. Later he realized his dream to continue his studies in Russia. He spent four years (1856—1860) in Moscow as a student in Slav philology in the Moscow University. He shared his brother's tragic destiny to be persecuted by the Greek clergy for his patriotic activity. Somebody reported on the Ottoman authorities that he was a Russian agent and Dimiter was arrested and taken to Constantinople where he died in 1862 in prison. When Konstantin learnt that his brother was arrested he went to Constantinople to fight in order to release him. However, he shared his brother's misfortune — he was captured and thrown in the same prison where he died.

The two brothers' educationalist activity and tragic death ensured them a worthy place in the history of the Bulgarian cultural movement and the Bulgarian national liberation struggle in the 19th century. The brothers are known also for their keen interest in the Bulgarian folk poetry as a result of which the remarkable collection 'Bulgarian Folk Songs' appeared. Dimiter and Konstantin Miladinovi were aware of the great significance of the folklore in the period of the National Revival and did their best to collect the best poetic writings which the Bulgarian genius had created throughout the ages. Their activity in this field is indicative of the growing interest shown towards folklore by the Bulgarian intelligentsia in the middle of the 19th century — by V. Aprilov, I. Bogorov, N. Gerov, G. S. Rakovski, P. R. Slaveikov, etc.

Dimiter was the first to start collecting folk materials. He was urged to do this by the Russian specialist in Slavonic studies Prof. V. Grigorovich who visited Ochrida in 1845, met Dimiter Miladinov and together went to Strouga where Grigorovich wrote down a Bulgarian song he heard from Miladinov's mother. Dimiter promised to send some folk songs to Grigorovich as it can be seen from his letter dated February 25, 1846: 'Fulfilling your recommendation I spare no efforts to promote the development of the Bulgarian language and the Bulgarian folk songs'. Dimiter and later his brother Konstanin started to collect folk songs. Konstantin took the collection prepared by them to Moscow with the hope of publishing it there. He discussed the way of arranging the materials with Russian scholars, received the encouragement of the Bulgarian students in Moscow L. Karavelov, R. Zhinzifov, S. Filaretov and V. Popovich but could not find a publischer. One of the obstacles was that the materials were written down in Greek alphabet. Dimiter continued to send new materials. In 1860 Konstantin addressed a letter to Yosif Strosmeyer, Croatian bishop in Dyakovo, who was a staunch supporter of Slavonic links. Strosmeyer sympathized with the fate of the enslaved Bulgarian people. He answered Konstantin's letter favourably giving his agreement for publishing the collection. His only demand was that the folk songs schould be written in the Cyrillic alphabet. 'The Greeks have brought to you, the Bulgarians, a lot of misery and hardships; that is why you schould give up their letters and embrace the Cyrillic ones'. The collection was published in Zagreb in 1861 and it was dedicated to Y. Strosmeyer.

The collection 'Bulgarian Folk Songs' compiled by the Miladinov brothers is a very rich one. It contains 665 songs in 23.559 stanzas, devided into 12 parts (heroic songs, haidouk songs, love songs, mythological songs, etc); marriage customs, legends, descriptions of children's games, Bulgarian names, proverbs and riddles. It is said in the preface that some 2000 rare words and 11 songs written in notes are also included but they were dropped because of the increased volume of the collection.

The Miladinov brothers mark the highest achievement of the Bulgarian folklore studies in the period of the National Revival with the richness and variety of the songs, with the poetic insight, with the accuracy of rendering The collection was highly assessed by its contemporaries — L. Karavelov K. A. Shapkarev, R. Zhinzifov and others. The collection was met with great interest by foreign scholars. The Russian scholar I. Sreznevski pointed out in 1863:' It can be seen by the published collection that the Bulgarians far from lagging behind other peoples in poetic abilities even surpass them with the vitality of their poetry...' Soon parts of the collection were translated in Czech, Russian and German. The collection compiled by the Miladinov brothers also played a great role in the development of the modern Bulgarian literature because its songs served as poetic models for the outstanding Bulgarian poets — Ivan Vazov, Pencho Slaveikov, Kiril Hristov, Peyo Yavorov. etc.