Romanian composers’ interest in Greek mythology begins with Enescu’s peerless masterpiece – lyrical tragedy Oedipe (1921-1931). The realist-postromantic artistic concept is materialised in the insoluble link between text and music, in the original synthesis of the most expressive compositional means recorded in the tradition of the genre and the openness towards acutely modern elements of musical language. The Romanian opera composed in the knowledge of George Enescu’s score, which premiered in Bucharest in 1958, reflect an additional interest in mythological subject-matter in the poetic form of the ancient tragedies signed by Euripides, Aeschylus and Sophocles. Significant Romanian musical works written in the avant-garde period of 1960 to 1980 – Doru Popovici’s opera Prometeu, Aurel Stroe’s Oedipus at Colonus, Oresteia I – Agamemnon, Oresteia II – The Choephori, Oresteia III – The Eumenides, Pascal Bentoiu’s The Sacrifice of Iphigenia – to which titles of the contemporary art of the stage are added – Cornel Ţăranu’s Oreste & Oedip – propose new philosophical and artistic interpretations of the original myths. At the same time, the mentioned works represent reference points of the multiple and radical transformation of the opera genre in Romanian culture. Emphasising the epic character, a heightened chamber dimension and the alternative extrapolation of the elements in the syncretic complex, developing new modes of performance, of sonic and video transmission – are features of the new style of opera associated to the powerful and simple subject-matter of ancient tragedy. In this sense, radio opera The Sacrifice of Iphigenia (1968) is a significant step in the metamorphosis of the genre, its novel artistic value being confirmed by an important international distinction offered to composer Pascal Bentoiu – Prix Italia of the Italian Radio and Television Broadcasting Company in Rome. The poetic quality of the text quoted from the masterpiece of ancient theatre, Euripides’ Iphigenia in Aulis, the hymnic-oratory character of the music, the economy and expressive capacity of the compositional means configured in the relationship between voice, organ, percussion, electro-acoustic means – can be associated in interpreting the universal major theme: the necessity of virgin sacrifice in the process of durable construction.
In this paper, we will tackle several dominant Messiaen influences, as concerns ideas and/or technical approaches, on important Romanian composition systems, with reference to concepts such as musical character, number, Time/time, repetition. We will refer to characters as structures, characters as tuning systems and characters as musical/cultural paradigms as they occur in Aurel Stroe’s creation, and then we will turn our attention to Ștefan Niculescu’s melody-musical character with memory. Surprising but/and natural, objective but/and inspired, Niculescu opens up different perspectives on the personality of musical character as well. Numbers (what is fascinating is that they are mainly just figures) prove to be an example of simplicity as they comprise in a condensed manner technical information, emotions and musical inspiration. We will prove/illustrate this relying on three technical/semantic perspectives: poetry of numbers-duration in Liviu Glodeanu’s creation, numbers defining dodecaphonic series cells in Roman Vlad’s work, or numbers-foundation for the whole modal edifice in Vieru’s perspective. As for time/Time, which is the main character of Messiaen’s (and actually everyone’s, even humanity’s) musical, poetic, philosophical and theological thinking, we will only dwell on two hypostases, namely Stroe’s and Niculescu’s perspectives. Stroe conceives time as an element integrated in the sphere of memory and identity, as the recurrence in the present time of slices of memories involves the superposing of slices of time. For Niculescu, time is foundation, a condensation of the fact that syntax relies on two temporal categories, succesivity and simultaneity. We will dwell on the repetition “character” in the context of Aurel Stroe’s mobiles, or in parts of monodies of periodicities, screens and loops in Anatol Vieru’s creation. The conclusions will naturally follow the line of art and meaning.
Ten years after he passed away, Aurel Stroe remains one of the most valuable composers that Romania has offered to the world in the post-Enescu era. Belonging to an area of novelty and extreme originality of composition and musical thinking, Aurel Stroe was similarly neither understood nor appreciated enough (especially at home) and only to limited extent sung and scheduled within symphonic concerts and chamber music. But abroad, Aurel Stroe remains one of the most performed Romanian composers of modern music. Ten years after his passing away, we will attempt to create an overall view of his musical creations, and the inheritance of his composition thinking.
The folkloric character of the beginnings of jazz has been established by all researchers of American classical music. The African-Americans brought as slaves onto the territory of North America, the European émigrés tied to their own folkloric repertoire, the songs in the musical revues on Broadway turned national successes – can be considered the first three waves to have fundamentally influenced the history of jazz music. Preserving the classical and modern manner of improvisation and arrangement has not been a solution for authentic jazz musicians, permanently preoccupied with renewing their mode of expression. As it happened in the academic genres, the effect of experiments was mostly to draw the public away, as its capacity of understanding and empathizing with the new musical “products” (especially those in the “free” stylistic area) were discouraging. The areas which also had something original to say in the field of jazz remained the traditional, archaic cultures in Eastern Europe, Asia, the Orient. Compared to folkloric works from very distant areas, the musical culture of the Balkans bears the advantage of diversity, the ease of reception of melodies, rhythms and instrumental sonority. One of the most important architects of ethno-jazz is Anatoly Vapirov. A classically-trained musician, an author of concerts, stage music and soundtracks, a consummate connoisseur of the classical mode of improvisation as a saxophone and clarinet player, Anatoly Vapirov has dedicated decades of his life to researching the archaic musical culture of the Balkans, which he translated into the dual academic-jazz language, in the hypostases of predetermined scored works and of improvised works – either as a soloist, in combos or big bands. This study focuses on highlighting the language techniques, emphasizing the aesthetic-artistic qualities of the music signed Anatoly Vapirov.
The Iași Conservatory Book of Honor was initiated in 1926, when the headmaster of the institution was the cello teacher Nicolae Theodorescu (between 1924-1930). I tried to describe the adventure of this document of great importance for the history of Iaşi culture, in the following episodes: personalities and events mentioned in the Book; the disappearance of the Book from the Conservatory archive in 1950, under circumstances still unclear; rediscovery and presence in D. Grumuzescu’s collection; returning to the patrimony of the “George Enescu” Art University of Iasi. This text is an extension of the one published in “Filarmonica Magazine”, in April 2015.
On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the passing of the Transylvanian musician Nicolae Bretan (1887-1968), known during the interwar period due to his complex field of activity (interpreter, director, conductor, composer), we consider it necessary to elaborate a study that is critical for several reasons. Starting with the dilemmatic comments existent in the current bibliography, we propose, on the one hand, to systematize the information regarding the reception of his personality in the context of the age in which he lived and worked, and on the other hand, to outline the premises that generated the appearance of controversial writings, but especially to question their effects on the deformed stylistic perception of the musician at national and international level. We consider that this is one of the ways in which the “phenomenon of Bretan’s rebirth” can be objectively reevaluated, appreciating the existence and real contributions of a minor musician, who, although endowed with talent, could not be in the same compositional direction that included national models (George Enescu, Mihail Jora, Paul Constantinescu), are comparable to those in the universal space of the first half of the 20th century.
Composer Sabin Pautza’s creation, of a style diversity that is rare in the contemporary landscape of Romanian music, stands out through its effervescence and colourfulness, backed by the extraordinary mastery of writing techniques. The work we are referring to in this article, Canti prophani, is a vocal-symphonic suite written for a children’s choir. The suite includes three contrasting miniatures (fast-slow-fast), united through their motif, Maico, Maico..., Dalbe flori and Dimineața ziua bună, representing a translation into music language of the main features of childhood games: repetitive action, rhythm, word play. In terms of language, the children’s choir is assigned only the pure sonority of diatonic modes, while the orchestra overlays harmonic and polyphonic structures that are much more elaborate. The lay character of the lyrics, underlined in the suite’s title, shifts the emphasis from the religious area to that of purity of heart and of sincere joy, the focus being on the high emotions around the feast of Christmas. This brief analytical examination will only highlight the main approaches to the sound material, looking at both archaic influences and at the modern composition techniques, as well as at the manner in which the two blend together. The actual thread that binds all three sections of this work, the image of the mother, occurs everywhere, as the mother is invoked throughout the length of the three parts.
Throughout the entire evolution of events in the history of music, we are finding the presence of a miniature genre, with a fulminatory evolution in the Romantic period. A syncretic genre, by combining poetry with music, lied generated a highly complex and artistically refined result, hence the preferred leaning of musicians towards it. In the approach of a mythologic page transposed into a Romantic view, in Ganymed we find two figures of genius connected: Goethe – writer and philosopher with a special inclination towards versified creations, with a remarkable, long-lasting activity and with a highly profound view on life – and Schubert – prolific composer, with the most representative contribution in the evolution of this genre, by setting down demarcations and also excelling from a quantitative point of view. This analysis begins from the opposite decoding of the acoustic message, from the point of view of the vocal interpreter, including here most of the implicit aspects: from phonetics to prosody, from dynamics to voice quality in the lied genre, from agogics to breathing and pneumo-phonic accord, from formal organization depending on the construction of the stanza.
Chamber Music has always been a genre predefined to a certain audience. At the merge of the 20th and 21st Centuries, the interest for this genre has grown exponentially, from Romanian and Bessarabia composers alike. Because the concept of Chamber Music has evolved during the ages and has always offered the possibility for experimentation, it has managed to infiltrate into present day Ensembles, by associating timbre and constructive heterogenic instruments. The search for new ways of expressing oneself, new sounds and new stylistic methods and the desire to use new types of sound emission represent a continuous motivation for the composers, whose contribution to the Chamber Ensembles is frequently enrichened. Thus, the Jazz influence has a significant role inside the works of Sabin Pautza, Romeo Cozma (Romania) and Oleg Negruța (Republic of Moldova). The article is focused on Chamber Music compositions with Jazz influences, written by Iași authors. The purpose is to create a general presentation and also a structural-interpretive analysis of some works from my personal repertoire, which was actually one of the main criteria of selection. The objects of the research are: highlighting the particularities of the genre and style of contemporary works; presenting the interpretive aspects of the compositions and proposing some personal suggestions and tips. Although the selected works have been initially composed for different instruments and have been played to live audience, they have not presented themselves, so far, as a research subject, and thus have not been analyzed. Taking into consideration this deduction, the novelty and the personal contribution are visible in the scientific research that deals with the autochthonous compositional patrimony. The aspects presented in this article can be used for pedagogical processes and, at the same time, they can behave as a practical method in managing the chosen repertoire.
It was during the communist regime of the post-war years that Romanian composer Gherase Dendrino wrote an operetta in celebration of the centenary of Ciprian Porumbescu’s birth, named Lăsați-mă să cânt [Let me sing!]. It revolves around the figure of Porumbescu himself, as the first Romanian composer to have ever written an operetta that would be performed and published, named Crai nou [New Moon]. Lăsați-mă să cânt [Let me sing!] tells the story of the making of the first Romanian operetta and was revived during the spring of 2018 at the Cluj-Napoca Romanian National Opera House, as part of the festivities related to the Centenary of the Great Union. The present research highlights three aspects of Dendrino’s operetta: firstly, the one related to the ethical values, epitomized in the libretto by the main character, Ciprian, who, along with his friends, achieves the greatest task of the birth of the Romanian operetta, in spite of all opposition and pitfalls; secondly, the aesthetic content, regarding de musical language of the work, opposing the world of the Romanian provincial town to the Viennese Salonmusik; thirdly, the political aspect, encompassing the subtext of the libretto and the message of the work, which underwent continuous changes over the decades and social and political contexts up to the present day. Thus, the analysis takes into account both the sound and the word.