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Towards Modern Music in Romania

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image of East Central Europe

Too little known in the West, modern Romanian scores are being gradually discovered nowadays, beginning with those of George Enescu. For decades underestimated as a creator, Enescu has been re-evaluated and recently recognized as an original and authentic representative of an Eastern European music school, comparable with JanáČek or Szymanowski. The Romanian music of the past fifty years, due to the political and ideological situation of Romania, similar to other countries of the ex-communist Eastern European bloc, has been isolated geographically but not aesthetically. The great diversity of modern or avant-garde trends in Western European and North American music is also present in the output of Romanian composers of the same period, combined in various degrees with autochthonous nuances. Originating primarily in the two major oral traditions, namely peasant folk music and religious Byzantine music, these have compelled Romanian composers to find their own musical language. However, Romanian composers coming of age in the second half of the 20th century took their first steps on a well-established territory, from the standpoint of composition, style, and aesthetics. A solid school of music - built on structural foundations that gave it a distinct language - had already been established in Romania in the first half of the 20th century. Therefore, the following essay is a chronological outline of the historical development of Romanian composition, a process governed primarily by the tension between national elements and global trends.


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