U Kruševo ogin gori (english version)

A Macedonian dance with a distinctive name: „A fire is burning in Kruševo“ – not „Kruševsko oro“, as Macedonian dances are usually named. Correctly it should read „Vo Kruševo ogan gori“ (also „ogin gori“); the variant „U Kruševo ogin gori“ has probably first been mentioned 1958 in the dance descriptions of the Folk Dance Federation of California-South, however the description is incomplete.

The dance

The folk dance label Folkraft published a record numbered LP -24 with 13 Macedonian dances, including „U Kruševo ogin gori”. On the back cover the editor referred to field research conducted by Rickey Holden and Dennis Boxell in the spring of 1964 in Macedonia (1). This is blatantly contradictory to the fact that the dance had already been taught in California in 1958 (see above). The 1966 California Kolo Festival documents a second source: Atanas Kolarovski – in the same rhythm and with the same steps in the first part (2). The dance has since established itself firmly in the folk dance scene and is still a favourite. We came to know it in the early eighties; recently, e.g. in Bad Bederkesa 2012, it was part of Yves Moreau’s syllabus of instruction.

The song

The music used most frequently for the dance is the purely instrumental recording of the Macedonian Radio Orchestra Skopje with Kočo Petrovski on Folkraft LP-24 (or CD 2902). Here merely the title „A fire is burning in Kruševo“ points to a dramatic historical course of events. The background is the Ilinden uprising against the Ottoman occupation in 1903, which lead to the death of thousands of insurgents and civilians (see below: the historical background).

In addition, there are also vocal recordings in only slightly different melodic (partly also rhythmic) variations (3), which supply more information about the content. As always, one must be careful not to take the lyrics as historically reliable reports, which exist as they perhaps are sung only incidentally in this version. Rather, the lyrics express what the singer (and to some extent the ethnic group in his background) wants to say. And this is usually a text with a certain intent, as we can show here by the example of the words „gusta magla“.

Во Крушево огин гори,
во Крушево густа магла.

Во Крушево густа магла,
в Мечкин камен крв се лее.

В Мечкин камен крв се лее,
там се бијат три војводи.

Там се бијат три војводи,
турска војска три илјади.

Прв војвода Даме Груев,
втор војвода Питу Гули.

Втор војвода Питу Гули,
а третиот Алебакот.

Vo Kruševo ogin gori,
vo Kruševo gusta magla,

vo Kruševo gusta magla,
v Mečkin kamen krv se lee. 

V Mečkin kamen krv se lee.
Tam se biјat tri voјvodi.

Tam se biјat tri voјvodi,
turska voјska tri ilјadi.

Prv voјvoda Dame Gruev,
vtor voјvoda Pitu Guli. 

Vtor voјvoda Pitu Guli
a tretiot Alebakot.

Fire burns in Krushevo,
in Krushevo there is thick fog.

In Krushevo, thick fog,
blood is shed at Mechkin Kamen.

Blood is shed at Mechkin Kamen,
three vojvodas are fighting there.

Three vojvodas are fighting there,
against 3000-strong Turkish army.

First vojvoda Dame Gruev,
second vojvoda Pitu Guli.

Second vojvoda Pitu Guli,
and the third one, Alebakot. (4)

The historical background

Bulgaria had been freed from Ottoman rule in 1876, but parts of Bulgaria and Greece, as well as Albania and Macedonia, remained under Turkish occupation. In 1893, revolutionary committees formed underground in order to prepare the liberation of the remaining territories. In the summer of 1903, rebellions in Macedonia, Thrace and Strandža were to initiate the liberation. However, they were badly coordinated – in Macedonia it started on July 20, the Elias Day, bg./mac. „Ilinden“, but in eastern Thrace not until 17 days later – also the insurgents were militarily inferior and hopelessly outnumbered. The song speaks of three rebel leaders against 3,000 soldiers – historians report of 26,000 insurgents, who faced 350,000 Turks. Many thousands of fighters and civilians were cut down, hundreds of villages destroyed, tens of thousands fled to neighbouring countries. (5)

(1) http://www.folklorediscography.org/Folkraft-LP-24.htm

(2) http://www.socalfolkdance.com/syllabi/syllabus_kolo_festival_1966.pdf

(3) Standard 11/16 + 7/16 (2-2-3-2-2 | 3-2-2) and Cvetan Jošefski 7/16 (2-2-3), or a song line (2-2-3 | 2-2-3 | 2-2-3)

(4)  source: http://pesna.org/song.php?id=928

Note: „војвода” – a „vojvoda“ (or „voivoda“) is a rebel leader, literally meaning „duke“. It is a military title typically used for the commanders of the rebel forces in the Ottoman Empire.

Instead of „Густа магла – gusta magla“ (magla = fog, meaning smoke) other song variants mention „грчка мала – grčka mala“, or in some macedonian sources „grčka maala“ (for mahala) – in Kruševo, „in the Greek quarter“. A note on the Greek-Vlach website http://vlahofonoi.blogspot.de states that „the well-known counterfeiters“ had „modified the line“ to obscure the facts (http://vlahofonoi.blogspot.de/2013/12/blog-post_2031.html). According to British and US-American diplomatic reports in 1903, the Turks were plundering and pillaging only the (rich) Greek quarter, while sparing the Bulgarians. (http://vlahofonoi.blogspot.de/2012/08/he-holocaust-of-krushevo-events-of-1903.html)

(5) As to the Ilinden uprising and the Republic of Kruševo that existed only for ten days see also Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ilinden–Preobrazhenie_Uprising, as well as the Macedonian Wikipedia with very detailed reports and numerous historical documents and photos: https://mk.wikipedia.org/wiki/Крушевска_Република,