“What Is Romanian and What Is Not Romanian?” Enescu’s Answers

Vlad Văidean


In a controversial interview in 1912, George Enescu – already the author of the emblems of sonorous “Romanianness”, the Romanian Poem and the Romanian Rhapsodies – disarmed with the naive sincerity with which he admitted his inability to distinguish, in all the myriad foreign influences that he himself identified as predominant in many areas of traditional Romanian music, the element of “specifically national” authenticity. “What is Romanian and what is not Romanian? It’s so hard for me to say…” – such a nebulous positioning, precisely from one already elevated to the rank of national composer, caused a stir at the time. It was, however, only the first of a long series of interviews in which Enescu was questioned on the same burning issue; the answers he gave over the years eventually came to convey some favourite terms, considered defining of Romanian sensibility: “sadness even in joy”, “this uncertain but deeply moving longing”, “that inexpressible nostalgia”, “the weeping string”, “a strange melancholy”. He has also attempted some explications of the concrete ways in which this ineffable yearning is reflected in Romanian traditional music. In fact, by expressing his extremely general and subjective opinions about Romanian traditional music, Enescu shed an additional and decisive light on his own music. The enescian exegesis has repeatedly reiterated the centrality of the ethos of dor in George Enescu’s Romanian works, i.e. the Romanian version of that affective binomial – melancholy and nostalgia – which has been embodied in versions that are just as “specifically national” and untranslatable in the self-consciousness of any other nation (Sehnsucht and Heimweh in the German version, spleen and maladie du pays in French, añoranza in Spanish, saudade in Portuguese, etc.). The present paper aims to briefly revisit the more or less clichéd ways in which Enescu’s creation has been linked to this ethos.

Romanian Repertoires in the Programmes of the Bucharest Philharmonic in the Interwar, World War II and Post-War Period.

Desiela Ion


The radical changes that the communist regime imposed on Romanian society since the end of the World War II also affected Bucharest institutions such as the Conservatory and the Philharmonic. In the light of these transformations, the analysis of the Romanian repertoires in the Philharmonic’s programmes reflects the trends and ideologies in Romanian musical composition and criticism. Moreover, the ideological directions of the World War II and post-war period would dictate the frequency, quantity and genres of Romanian music in the Philharmonic’s concert programmes (for example, the preponderance of Russian and Soviet music to the detriment of Romanian music until the early 1960s, when Romanian music became mandatory in the weekly concert programmes).

In this study I propose a brief analysis of Mihail Jora’s post-war compositional and conducting career, in comparison with his musical presence in the interwar period, reflected in the musical life of the Bucharest Philharmonic.

Ideological Aspects of Romanian Composition. Case Study: June 27, 1952 Meeting of the Romanian Creative Unions

Andreea Mitu


This paper represents a case study of the June 27, 1952 meeting of the Romanian Creative Unions, with the aim of processing party documents on the right-wing deviation of the communist movement. The typescript of the meeting, found and saved by sculptor Dorin Lupea who was sent to work as an unskilled factory worker after graduating the university, is reproduced in full in the book Reconstituiri necesare [Necessary Reconstructions] published by Polirom under the care of Mihaela Cristea (ed.), with additional explanatory footnotes for the names of those who spoke at the meeting out of their own free will or under obligation.

The text reveals to the reader the tremendous fear of Romanian intellectuals towards the doctrines of Stalinist ideology and the consequences of not respecting them, the indignities and criticisms they were willing to endure for fear of the terrible suffering both physical and mental that would await them in Communist prisons.

The Phenomenon of Unmasking: The Case of Mihail Andricu

Cecilia Benedicta Pavel


The phenomenon of unmasking began in Bucharest in 1958, when the Red Army withdraw from Romania. This action involved bringing political cases against intellectuals (usually privileged by the regime) for the most absurd reasons. Workers, agents of Securitate (Romanian communist secret police) and other intellectuals took part in the trials. These public demonstrations were intended to re-educate those who had rebelled against the system, but they also served as a warning to those brought there and to everyone else, as audio recordings of the trials were broadcast to intellectual gatherings in the country’s major cities.

The present study focuses on the composer, pianist, teacher and music critic Mihail Andricu, who, on April 7, 1959, was “unmasked” in a political trial held in the hall of the Central Council of Syndicates on Lipscani Street (in Bucharest), directed by organs of the Securitate, at which intellectuals from the music, literature and theatre world hurled accusations

Perceptions of Music in Communist Romania and Their Impact on an Emigrant Generation.

Ana Diaconu


While researching several archives, the author retraced the short Romanian careers of the composers born between 1935 and 1945 who settled in France in the early 1970s. In chronological order, the first names that the research focused on were Mihai Mitrea-Celarianu and Costin Miereanu. This paper gathers data about their studies at the Bucharest Conservatory, about recordings and radio broadcasts, and the most revealing information that were discovered pursuing the thread of the entries about the two composers in the minutes of the Symphonic and Chamber Music Section’s Bureau of the Union of Composers, from 1960-1970. The debate on aleatorism and experimentalism in composition that took off at the Union in 1970, following the analysis of a work by Costin Miereanu, is representative. This, together with the changing attitudes in the press and in the minutes of the Union, offers us a starting reflection point on the mentality of Romanian musicians in the 1960s and 1970s. The study aims to make an objective “inventory” of the realities of a professional path that preceded the decision of composers Costin Miereanu and Mihai Mitrea-Celarianu to redirect themselves towards the French musical landscape.

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