Dinu Lipatti (2)
The most famous Romanian performer worldwide, Lipatti is still in the top of twentieth-century pianists so many decades after his death (in 1950), according to some prestigious journals in the field. This is how his last, re-edited, recital in Besançon is described by the BBC Music Magazine in 2011: “Probably the most famous piano recital of the 20th century, beautifully re-mastered; if ever a release were self-recommending, this is it. Even near death, Lipatti’s mastery was as imbued with radiant humanity as it was in its prime.” Another critic, publishing in Diapason (2017), refers to the same emblematic CD:
Trop jeune, trop tôt. En 1950, la maladie a déjà condamné Lipatti, qui se bat contre les annulations. Coûte que coûte, il assurera son récital de septembre à Besançon. Nulle morbidité pourtant dans cette course contre la mort, mais seulement le combat de Jacob dans la Sonate KV 310 de Mozart, le sourire et la lumière qui éclaboussent Bach, Schubert et Chopin. La Valse no 14 prévue sera pour les anges, il nous reste les treize autres pour patienter. Le ciel peut bien attendre.
I would like to invest these two quotes with a secondary function, that of preparing the reader’s journey through the linguistic oscillation between the articles in English or French that will follow. In this sense, Musicology Today has decided to respect the choices made by the authors who come together in these two issues dedicated to theLipatti centennial. Two enthusiastic musicians and employees of Radio Romania have worked full time on bringing Lipatti’s personality to light in the latest several years. The efforts made by the Monica Isăcescu–Ștefan Costache team have been not only welcome, but absolutely necessary in the pianist’s native country, through their minute documentation and their contribution to a wider spread of all the aspects of Lipatti’s career. While carefully preparing the celebration of one hundred years since the pianist’s birth (1917), Monica Isăcescu and Ștefan Costache have organized various events. They have created a site (www.dinulipatti.org), accessible in Romanian, French and English and have invited the enthusiastic Canadian Mark Ainley – who has been tirelessly revealing novel recordings made by the pianist – to hold a series of lectures in Romania. In 2015, in collaboration with the National Music University in Bucharest, they organised an international conference which reunited 12 researchers from Romania (Bucharest and Cluj-Napoca), Canada, Belgium, Germany and France, to investigate lesser known aspects of Lipatti’s biography and activities.
Even though all the conference papers have already been published on the above-mentioned site, Musicology Today has followed the organisers’ suggestion and has selected some of these papers, which the authors have agreed to transform according to our format and to academic requirements. Some of them have even preferred to change the initial version to a longer, better documented one (such as for instance Ana-Maria Orendi). We have thus put together two issues out of nine articles and a book review, half of them being already released in our previous edition.
In the second group of texts, the often cited Lipatti researcher Grigore Bărgăuanu comes back to his favourite topic and enters in the labour of the pianist. He reveals therefore some of the principles that guided Lipatti in improving and refining his performance. Ana-Maria Orendi also investigates some aspects of the pianist’s life, historical context and reception; she manages to reveal some new aspects related to his participation in the 1933 Vienna International Piano Competition and his Berlin concerts, ten years later.
Another historical perspective is proposed by Vlad Alexandrescu in searching Dinu Lipatti’s file in the archives of the Romanian communist Securitate (secret police). Many novelties (some of them sensational) came out in the last decade about Romanian musicians, revealed by researchers such as Raluca-Ioana Voicu-Arnăuțoiu (we published several articles signed by her in Musicology Today) and Ladislau Csendes (to whom we express our gratitude for helping us complete some missing data). We find out now, with no surprise, that Lipatti and his family were also under the supervision of this repressive organisation.
I announced already in my previous editorial that both our issues will show a certain balance between Lipatti the pianist and Lipatti the composer, between his performing art and his passionate interest in music writing. In the previous issue the pianist Viniciu Moroianu looked for instance at Lipatti the composer of piano music, and drew a stylistic frame which could define him in the larger context of European trends such as late romanticism, impressionism and neoclassical attitudes. In the present issue Monica Isăcescu is interested in these tendencies, too: her focus on the first period of Lipatti’s composition presents the particular influences his mentors Mihail Jora and Nadia Boulanger might have had. This group of studies about the composer Lipatti is completed by Lavinia Coman’s overview of all his piano works, and their impact on the next generations of Romanian pianists.
Our homage to Dinu Lipatti does not end here. Our readers will still find articles about him in the Musicology Today issues to come.
English version by Maria-Sabina Draga-Alexandru