Category Archives: Classic

Dan Grigore – the extraordinary pianist

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Dan Grigore is considered one of the greatest pianist of the second half of the twenties century. His passion for music started early, he started piano lessons at three years old under the influence of his mother, also gifted for music. As a child, being ill for two weeks he asked his parents to take him with his blanket to his piano; from the beginning he was attracted irresistible by music.

Dan Grigore was born in Bucharest in 1943. At only 8 years old, he continued his piano lessons with great teachers from the Bucharest Conservatory, Eugenia Ionescu, Constantin Jora and then Florica Musicescu. He followed the courses of the Bucharest Conservatory but also in Sankt Petersburg at Rimski-Korsakov Conservatory with Tatiana Kravcenko. In 1969 he received a scholarship for Vienna, where he studied with Richard Hauser.

In the Romanian Communist period, as many other artistic Romanian personalities, he was marginalized. He received other scholarships, like the scholarship offered by Nadia Boulanger at the Fontainebleau Conservatory (1968), at the Madison-Wisconsin USA (1969-1971), by Sergiu Celibidache in Munchen (1979) or the invitation of the American Government for o trip in USA(1987). All are refused by the Romanian communist administration. We can not wonder, what could have been the artistic career of Dan Grigore in other times? Travelling through the grand scenes is after all essential for any music artist.

After the falling of the communist regime, Dan Grigore was invited to play in Tokio, Kyoto, Osaka, Anvers, Berlin, München, Budapesta, Birmingham, Cardiff, Paris, Roma, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Madrid, Barcelona, Copenhagen … and so, as a tribute, the public worldwide appreciated  him.

In 1996, he sustained three concerts with the Munches Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Sergiu Celibidache, the last concerts of the Romanian extravagant conductor.

Two of the important services that Dan Grigore made to Romania were bringing home on the Romanian stages the great artists left during the communism (Ileana Cotrubaș, Marina Krilovici, Silvia Marcovici, Radu Lupu, Radu Aldulescu, Sergiu Celibidache) and the project  “Dati un leu pentru Ateneu” (“Give a coin for the Athenaeum”) for the restoration of the Romanian Athenaeum.

In October 2013, Dan Grigore will perform with the great Romanian soprano Angela Gheorghiu at Teatro alla Scala in Milan. Two Romanians on one of the greatest stages in the world, what an honor!

photo: evz.ro

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Angela Gheorghiu – 20 years at Covent Garden’s Royal Opera House

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I wanted many times to write about Angela Gheorghiu, but it’s so much, what to say first? …

Instead of introduction, in the world of ratting, I’ll say something I’ve read often: Angela Gheorghiu is “one of the most important artists of the classic music”, “one of the best-selling artists” nowadays.

Angela Gheorghiu has more than 25000 “friends” on Facebook; I’m, of course, one of them and recently she shared an interview of her for the Romanian television … so, I’ll start from this interview to speak about her… the destiny of Angela Gheorghiu, as she said, doesn’t started on a big stage, it started in Adjud, Romania where she was born in 1965 and started learning music. Then she graduated the Art College and The Conservatory in Bucharest. In 1985 she started the apparition at The Romanian Television.

During the Romanian Revolution, “between the noises of bullets” as she remembers, she received a call about the first invitation to an international event. So, this in how, in July 1990, being in the last year at the Conservatory in Bucharest, she was singing in Amsterdam, then in Basel and then, in 1992, at Covent Garden’s Royal Opera House, London as Zerlina in Don Giovanni. After her debut, the BBC Chanel changed the program in order to transmit the amazing Covent Garden’s show with Angela Gheorghiu.

How is possible so soon, so young, such an important part in Covent Garden?

Only for a phenomenon is possible; and this is what Angela Gheorghiu is, a phenomenon of universal classic music.

After Coven Garden’s debut, followed the Vienna State Opera, Milan’s La Scala New York’s Metropolitan Opera … and here I’ll stop in the places listed because she played and plays actual everywhere … and I’ll list only some of her awards: Deutscher Schallplattenpreis, Diapason d’Or Awards, Choc du Monde de la Musique, Cecilia Prize, the Echo Award, the Italian Musica e dischi, Foreign Lyric Production Award, the USA Critics’ Award, … Angela Gheorghiu won also the title of Female Artist of the Year at the Classic Brit Awards in 2001 and 2010. She was appointed an Officer and Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres by France and Romanie. Angela Gheorghiu was also with “La Medaille Vermeille de la Ville de Paris” in France, Doctor Honoris Causa by the University of Arts in Iasi and the Star of Romania, in the highest rank by the President of Romania.

Being many times called capricious because of her obsession for details and perfection, Angela Gheorghiu decided years ago to dedicate her life to stage and public, working only for this. She lived always with the idea of “what she is” and not “what she can become” believing in her destiny. She was also many times her own teacher, she worked many times alone, learning alone the plays.

About Romania, Angela Gheorghiu is saying that “Romania is her blood” and also, some of her important benchmarks are Romanians: the first voice recorded that impressed her was the one of the Romanian Virginia Zeani. She will always thank to two Romanians that marked her career, Iosif Sava and Luminita Constantinescu. Angela Gheorghiu was very reserved with her private live, but an interesting and nice thing is that her husband, the famous Roberto Alagna, learned Romanian, the language of her country, as she wished.

Another beautiful present for her native Romania is singing one or two Romanian songs in every of her concerts.

A gesture of profound generosity was her initiative in the promotion of Romanian young talents, many being invited to play in her spectacles worldwide, like Teodor Ilincai, Stefan Pop, Iulia Isaev, Vlad Mirita, Marius Manea, Irina Iordachescu.

Two pop projects and clips in Romania were “Numele tau” (“Your name”) with Stefan Banica and, more recently, “Nu mai e timp!” (“There’s no time!”) with the pop-rock band Holograf. She also participated in Romania in the concerts for the Days of Bucharest.

In 2011, Angela Gheorghiu accepted the proposal of recording the album “Homage to Maria Callas”, not an easy task regarding the difficult repertory and the responsibility for the “great” Maria Callas. An unprecedented clip was turned in Romania as part of this project, a clip that puts together “on the same stage” the interpretation of Habanera by Maria Callas in 1963 and by Angela Gheorghiu in 2011 … “the queens of opera music finally together”, one of the comment on YouTube.

This year, 20 years from the debut of Angela Gheorghiu at Covent Garden’s Royal Opera House, London, a spectacle dedicated to her and Roberto Alagna will take place in order to celebrate this event.

photo: roportal.ro

Alina Cojocaru – London Royal Ballet’s principal dancer

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Seing Alina Cojocaru dancing is like in a dream, a supernatural dance of a graceful, strong, feminine, light, precise, brilliant ballerina.

Giselle, her first leading role, is the name that will forever be linked to the name of Alina Cojocaru, the best dancer ever for this part. In Giselle, the tempo is going from the dance full of vivacity at the peasants celebration to the dance of seduction and eternal love and, in the end, the deadly dance of the soul in the world of Fairies, where you can lose your mind of pain.

Alina Cojocaru and her partner Johan Kobborg (her partner in real life also) dance in Giselle all the forms of love, from day to night, from coolness to fussiness, from live to death. The beauty of Giselle with Alina Cojocaru and  Johan Kobborg from London Royal Ballet’s was recognized being ranked in 2010 in top ten ballets of the decade.

The story of Alina Cojocaru starts simple … she was born in Bucharest. Her parents, both worked in the family shop in a bazaar in Bucharest thought she was to short, so she began gymnastic class. Than, at the age of 9 years, she started ballet school, a few month after the beginning, she was chosen by the director of the Kiev Ballet School for a student exchange.

How to succeed? Alina Cojocaru is no doubt born with the genius of dance, after that maybe the fortunate to be at the audition for the student exchange with the Kiev Ballet School, but after that work, work, … and many sacrifices. She stayed 7 years in Kiev, coming home only in holidays two times per year, alone not knowing to speak Russian and working hard to shine as ballerina. She is saying that the most difficult was missing her family, something that will never change because she had never returned to live in Romania.

At the age at 16, Alina Cojocaru won the gold medal in the Prix de Lausanne, winning so a six month scholarship at the Royal Ballet School London. After this, she was offered to join the corps of ballet in London and also to join the Kiev Ballet as Principal, she chosen for one season the second option in order to gain experience. Than, at the age at 17 years, she joined the Royal Ballet as member of the corps of ballet and at the age at 19 years, in 2001, she was promoted to the rank of Principal dancer, the youngest in the Royal Ballet history.

In 2004 she received the Prix Benois de la Dance, and in 2010 was one of the four winners of the Prix Ballerina of the Decade at The Stars of the 21st Century Moscova Gala.

Alina Cojocaru is definitely one of the most acclaimed ballerinas worldwide, she performed with London Royal Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, The Australian Ballet, Hamburg Ballet, ABT Met, Kremlin Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet, Tokyo Ballet and her way is not ended yet.

photo: cotidianul.ro

Ioan Holender – great Opera’s manager

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  I was thinking how to explain my daughter what “direct” is and that there couldn’t be a better  solution  than  “Radetzky March” for the end of the Vienne New Year Concert … and going from here to the memory of another cool Romanian.

For many of us, this concert, annually transmitted by the Romanian national television, is the only contact with Vienne State Opera. For Ioan Holender, the manager of Vienne State Opera for almost 20 years, it is much more,  it’s his life.

Ioan Holender was born in Timisoara, Romania, in 1935.  His father owned a factory in Timişoara, which was expropriated in the communist period.  He studied mechanical engineering, he also worked as a tennis coach and then he emigrated with his family to Austria. There, he followed music studies and was baritone for some years. In 1966 he started working at  the Starka theatrical agency and began to have success.

 In 1992 he became the manager of Vienne State Opera,  the largest audience Opera in the world. With Ioan Holender as manager, the number of shows and receipts achieved new records, over 50 operas and ballet works on around 300 days per season. And that is why the mandate of Ioan Holender as manager was another record, the longest in the history.

At the age of 75 years, Ioan Holender withdraw from this position. The show dedicated to this moment was a real tribute: a marathon of six hours, more than 40 interpreters, 12 conductors, all the funds being donated for the street’s children in Moldavia Republic.

What is Ioan Holender now? … artistic adviser for Tokyo Opera, Budapest Opera, New York Metropolitan Opera, …, the president and artistic manager of  “George Enescu” Romanian Festival, the honorary ambassador of Timisoara, the town that he had never forgotten and always promoted.

photo: cimec.ro