Another Perspective on National and Universal Musics

This last issue of 2018 seems eclectic at first sight, and this perception won’t change at a more careful perusal. If we were to look for a thematic thread to connect the four studies, Romanian musicology’s old obsession, called “the tension between the national and the universal” under communism, returns here with a subtle difference and in a fresh modern perspective. For instance, two performers trained in the Romanian school, who then developed international careers, reflect on world musics and performance manners. Tenor Alexandru Badea, in his study on the transmission of pedagogical knowledge, refers to “the psychodrama undergone by half-learned teachers”, to “an array of issues related to the selflessness of the good voice teacher”, proposing a personal and convincing set of “ten commandments” of correct singing. In his turn, Toma Popovici enters the deepest recesses of an internationally reputed score, Piano Concerto No. 2 by Johannes Brahms.

The more visible bridge between the “national” and the “universal” is offered to us by the French composer, musicologist and pianist Étienne Kippelen, who had the inspired idea to investigate a few composers of the French diaspora, or who have solid connections with it. His text evokes George Enescu and Aurel Stroe, Marcel Mihalovici, Horațiu Rădulescu and Costin Miereanu, looking to demonstrate the significance of oral folk cultures in modern and avant-garde composing. As a matter of fact, this is how Romanian composition has related to the idea of defining a national character in two centuries: through various acts of mixing elements taken from western models with local folklore elements, in variable proportions.

Finally, we read about nation and nationalism particularly in the study signed by Antigona Rădulescu, who investigated the archives of the National University of Music Bucharest with a view to celebrating the anniversary of the institution (2014) through a volume, and who is still finding a significant amount of resources to turn to good account as we speak. The dark years of socialist realism (which immediately followed the end of World War II) are mentioned here through a few examples from the Bucharest academic community.

To round up the ensemble of the four above-mentioned studies, a well-written, mature review by a very young colleague of ours, Lavinia Frâncu, tackles a topic that is almost unknown in Romania: ciné-ethnomusicology, as explained to us in a recent publication signed by Benjamin J. Harbert, professor of music and film at Georgetown University: American Music Documentary: Five Case Studies of Ciné-Ethnomusicology.

And here comes the point where, after coordinating Musicology Today and writing editorials for nine years’ issues, I invite my colleague and friend Florinela Popa to take over from me, while I maintain a much more comfortable honorary position (and the corresponding amount of involvement) in the journal’s future destiny. Do keep on reading it from 2019 onwards with the same interest and pleasure!

 

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