Romanian Music (3)

In memoriam Thomas Beimel

The topic of Romanian music keeps coming back in a cyclical pattern and proves of major importance to our journal. And the possible ways to look at the past or present of our local repertoire shows a diversity that is essential to today’s musicology.

One way is, for example, to resume analytically concepts that created a solid tradition in our country in the last decades of the twentieth century, such as musical syntax and heterophony, theorised and applied by Ștefan Niculescu in his own creation. This is what Olguța Lupu does in her thoroughly documented analysis of the notions borrowed by Niculescu from linguistics or from traditional and serial musics (via Pierre Boulez). The quintet Hétérophonies pour Montreux (1986), examined here, illustrates composition techniques derived from such notions, but also Niculescu’s own philosophical and expressive ideas.

Another type of analysis is characteristic to the interpreter, and Verona Maier – as a pianist with a long experience of chamber music – knows how to look at lieder by Constantin Silvestri (1928) with the poetry reader’s eye (accustomed to Heinrich Heine), to notice the musical effects of a poetic text and the ways in which interpretation can highlight it. Verona Maier’s study has a correspondent in the essayistic pages written by another pianist, Horia Maxim (under Thoughts), who explores the musical imaginary of recent concerts for piano and orchestra (2011-2015), signed by Liviu Dănceanu, Valentin Doni, Richard Oschanitzky and Gabriel Iranyi.

Next to these mainly analytical contributions, Ioana-Raluca Voicu-Arnăuțoiu’s investigation brings in a historical and ideological colour, revealing new information on the trajectory of the famous conductor of Romanian origin Sergiu Celibidache. The author thus continues a vast research project in the National Council for the Study of the Securitate Archives (CNSAS), where she has already identified information (often of a sensational nature) on Paul Constantinescu or George Enescu, Mihail Jora or Constantin Silvestri. (The journal Musicology Today has actually published regular accounts of some of Ioana-Raluca Voicu-Arnăuțoiu’s discoveries.)

Finally, the place of our usual Book reviews rubric has been taken by a laudatio, written on the event of Hermann Danuser’s becoming part of the academic community of the National University of Music in Bucharest, as Doctor Honoris Causa. We thus hope that our readers will find out more about the career and work of one of the most important contemporary musicologists, whose conceptual, terminological and aesthetic contributions have had an echo in the Romanian space.

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We dedicate this issue of Musicology Today to the memory of a devoted and enthusiastic friend of Romanian music, who has left us suddenly, before turning 50: the violist, composer and musicologist Thomas Beimel. We have lost a promoter of contemporary Romanian composition, who dedicated many radio programmes to Romanian composers, institutions and episodes of Romanian musical history on Deutschlandradio Kultur – Deutschlandfunk. Some of these programmes were turned into essays published in Musicology Today. I invite you to reread Thomas Beimel’s opinions on Aurel Stroe, issue 1/2011 (5) and Myriam Marbe – 2/2011 (6), on the history of the Cantacuzino Palace and of the Union of Composers and Musicologists in Romania – 1/2013 (13), on Anatol Vieru – 1/2013 (17), on a new melos in Enescu’s and Marbe’s work – 1/2014 (21), and thus, once again, to encounter his analytical, critical, nonconformist, revigorating spirit.

A disciple of composer Myriam Marbe, Thomas Beimel was always curious to discover the newest avant-garde experiments, but also the Romanian operetta of the times of socialist realism. I could not curb his recent admiration for Filaret Barbu and Gherase Dendrino (even though I tried very hard). Then I thought that maybe Thomas was right, maybe we should always re-evaluate our artistic past without prejudice, no matter how ideologically impregnated it might be. This was one of the lessons I learnt from Thomas. His scrutiny – coming from outside Romanian music, but with a great love for it – will be sorely missed by all of us.

Valentina Sandu-Dediu
(English version by Maria-Sabina Draga Alexandru)