Ilse Maria Reich

Born in 1944 in Sibiu, Ilse Maria Reich studied the pipe organ in Prague with Jiri Rheinberger, in Essen with Gisbert Schneider, and at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Hannover with Ulrich Bremsteller. Stated as a most valuable organist in Romania, with participation in international festivals, she was known worldwide due to its genuine vocation - after emigrating in 1988 in Germany.

In 1990, she founded a music school in Rottenburg - which now has 500 students - which she led for 18 years. As conductor of the choir and orchestra ensembles toured with the school in South Africa, Italy, Romania, Czech Republic and China. Over several years, Ilse Maria Reich has prepared and made possible the collaboration between the school choir "Chorgemeinschaft der Musikschule Städtischen" and the Romanian Radio Chamber Orchestra in several vocal-symphonic concerts.

Barbu the Fiddler

Barbu Lăutaru (Vasile Barbu, 1780-1860, known as Barbu the Fiddler), was a legendary singer and cobza player, member of an old family of musicians. Staroste (chief of the guild) of fiddlers in Moldova for 40 years, Barbu the Fiddler was one of those great Romanian folk singers who, through the creation and interpretation, contributed to the formation and enrichment of lăutăresc popular music style. He aroused the admiration of Franz Liszt on the occasion of its passage through Moldova, in the winter of 1847 in Iaşi. The French weekly La Vie Parisienne reported that, during the visit, Barbu Lăutaru reproduced perfectly one of Franz Liszt's improvisations at a first audition, when the Hungarian composer was the host of the writer Vasile Alecsandri. It is said that Franz Liszt said: "You are a greater musician than me!"

Taraf of Ochi-Albi, 1860, Carol Popp de Szathmary (from Wikipedia)

The Romanian word Lăutar denotes a class of traditional musicians. Most often, and by tradition, Lăutari are members of a professional clan of Romani musicians (Gypsies), also called Ţigani lăutari. The term is derived from Lăută, the name of a string instrument similar to a Lute. Lăutari usually perform in a band called Taraf. Originally, the word was used only from those that played the lăută. The other were named from their instruments, too, such as: scripcar (violin player), cobzar (cobza player), and naigiu (nai/panflute player). From the 17th century, the word lăutar was used regardless of the instrument that was played. The lăutărească music is complex and elaborated, with dense harmonies and refined ornamentation, and its execution requires a good technique. The lăutari drew inspiration from all the musics they had contact with: the pastoral music of Romania, the Byzantine music played in the church, as well as foreign music, most notably Turkish, but also Russian and Western European. Another distinction should be made between the lăutărească music played by lăutari and the Romanian peasant music. A more proper name for someone who plays peasant music is that of rapsod.

One of the most popular Romanian folk tunes is the Ballad of Barbu Lăutaru. You can listen it in several versions (folklore, jazz, rock...). It worth a try!

Fănică Luca - Eu sunt Barbu Lăutaru (historical recording)

Ion Luican - Eu sunt Barbu Lăutaru (traditional)

Ion Ghiţulescu - Barbu Lăutaru (traditional)

Emy Dragoi & Jazz Hot Club Romania - Barbu Lăutaru (jazz)

Marius Mihalache feat. Teodora Enache - Barbu Lăutaru (ethno-jazz)

Gheorghe Zamfir - Barbu Lăutaru (instrumental, panpipe)

Phoenix feat. Gheorghe Zamfir - Barbu Lăutaru (rock)

A homeless artist

Ion Bârladeanu was born in Vaslui County, in Zăpodeni, and left the natal village at 18. He did not get along with his relatives, especially his father, because it was a communist. He had several jobs, as docker in Constanţa or reed cutter in the Danube Delta, then went to Bucharest, where he worked as lumberjack, construction worker, watchman or grave digger. After the fall of Communism in Romania in 1989, he was eking out life on a grubby mattress at the bottom of a garbage chute in a Bucharest housing block, recycling bottles and metal.

His collages, created from discarded magazines that he has rifled through for many years, were an art for him from the beginning. It is a line of work, in fact, that he began before the fall of Nicolae Ceauşescu in 1989. Created with a cinematographic edge, they depict shiny possibilities outside the gulag-like background in which he sets them. It's work that would have landed him in danger for many years. Although he have not artistic studies and did not have access to the art world until 2008, Ion Bârladeanu has a vast culture. He likes philosophy, movies - especially dramas, and knows a lot of people - domestic and foreign actors, and local celebrities. His intuition seems to be almost infallible.

He was discovered as an artist by Ovidiu Feneş, which recommended him to an art gallery owner, Dan Popescu. In his gallery exposed Bârladeanu for the first time, at 62, 20 collages on political themes - his favorite subject. Last year, he was flown to Art Basel and to London. In February, he was brought to Paris for the show, titled Realpolitik, and in the ultimate accolade for a burgeoning artist, surely, he had lunch with Angelina Jolie. His collages were exposed along works by Andy Warhol, Marcel Duchamp, Richard Hamilton, Tom Wesselmann. There is possibly something distasteful about plucking a man from homeless obscurity in Romania, dressing him up and parachuting him into Parisian society, with A-list celebrities fawning at their latest darling.

In 2009 the director Alexander Nanau and HBO Romania made a documentary film about the artist, called The World According to Ion B., film which won an International Emmy, category "Arts Programming".


The Romanian researchers Emilia Moroşan and Eric Pop have been awarded yesterday at the White House by the American president Barack Obama during the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers Gala. The PECASE Award is the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers. Ten Federal departments and agencies join together annually to nominate the most meritorious scientists and engineers whose early accomplishments show the greatest promise for assuring America’s preeminence in science and engineering and contributing to the awarding agencies' missions. The two Romanians were proposed by the U.S. Department of Defense, Office of Strategic Research of the U.S. Air Force.

Emilia Moroşan (34) graduated the "Alexandru Ioan Cuza" University in Iaşi, Faculty of Physics and worked for an year as a teacher in Romania. Now, she is Assistant Professor of Physics, Astronomy and Chemistry at Rice University, Houston, Texas. She received also the National Science Foundation Career Award.

Eric Pop is Assistant Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. He received some important prizes, as: NSF Career Award, Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award, Air Force Young Investigator Award, DARPA Young Faculty Award.

The Synagogue, Tîrgu Mureş

The Synagogue of Tîrgu-Mureş, also known as the “Large Temple", was built between 1899 and 1900 at the initiative of the Jewish community "Status Quo" and is considered to be one of the most beautiful buildings of its kind in Romania. The marble plaque in the hall of the temple bears the names of all those who contributed materially or spiritually to its construction. Among these is the name of the then- president of the community Burger Adalbert, of its vice-president Farkas Mendel, of Rabbi Dr. Wilhelm Joachim and of the main donors.

The design of the synagogue was drawn up by Jewish architect Gartner Jacob of Vienna and the construction works were coordinated by Sóos Pál. The architectural conception is defined by monumentality and a harmonious eclecticism. Various Western European styles were combined with Muslim ones in order to create a visual effect of richness. The main facade consists of a central part and two lateral towers crowned by bulb-shaped vaults of oriental inspiration. The main entrance is sheltered by a portico with three semi-circular arches supported by columns. Above it lies the large, floral rosette. An inscription in Hebrew can be seen on the gable of the façade, which follows the curved contour of the rosette and the gable. The text is a quote from the Old Testament (Isaiah 56/7) and it means: “My house will be called a house of prayer for all peoples”. Elements such as svelte columns with caps decorated with floral motifs in relief, which support semi-circular arch openings are placed next to laced profiles and tri-lobed ornaments. Each tower has an access door to the stairs that lead to the balcony inside the temple, as well as a smaller rosette. The entire edifice is dominated by the central cupola. Each side of the central spire is decorated with a floral rosette similar to the ones on the facade. This type of window is also used several times on the lateral facades.

The vast interior is richly decorated, both with shapes and color. The temple has 314 seats on the ground floor (for men) and 238 on the top floor (for women). The space consists of an access corridor separated from the central nave by doors decorated with colorful stained glass windows. The central nave is delimited from the two lateral naves, above which there are balconies, by columns placed on high socles. The central vault is painted with star motifs in vivid colors and is decorated with shell-shaped motifs or fret-sawed panels with the Star of David in their center. Underneath the vault there is the bima – a square space surrounded by a railing – where fragments of the Tora are read.

An essential element of the Synagogue is the shrine where the rolls of Tora are kept, at the end of the central nave. Attached to the railing of the shrine is the monument dedicated to the Jews of Tîrgu Mureş who died in the Holocaust. In 1944 Jews were deported from Tîrgu Mureş, as well, as it was part of the Hungarian state. According to statistics, 5943 Jews of Tîrgu Mureş died in the concentration camp of Auschwitz. The plaque in the Large Temple bears the following Hebrew inscription in their memory: “The number of martyrs from our town is 5943. The stones in the walls themselves and the entire Jewish people mourn the extermination of our parents and our loved ones who were asphyxiated and burnt in Auschwitz in the year 5704 (1944)”.

Via. Photos from here, here.

The Jesuit Church, Tîrgu-Mureş

At the beginning of the 18th century, one of the most representative Baroque churches of Transylvania was built in Tîrgu-Mureş: the Jesuit Church of Saint John the Baptist. It was erected in the North-Eastern part of the city center and belongs to the Roman Catholic parish.

Jesuit monks settled in Tîrgu-Mureş in 1702 with the purpose of revitalizing the Catholic community. During the first years, they found lodging in the home of Boer Simon, but in 1704 managed to buy a plot of land near the Nagy Szabo house in order to build a church. Facing the diffidence of the mostly reformed population, but supported by Vienna, the Jesuits began erecting the church as late as 1728. Until that time, religious services were held in a small wooden chapel. Architect Hammer Konrad of Schwalbach was entrusted with the building of the church. He had also coordinated the building of the Jesuit church of Cluj, the first Baroque church of Transylvania. It is therefore not a coincidence that the two edifices resemble each other both structure-wise and in what concerns the appearance of the facades. Even though the Jesuits left the town in 1733, before the church was finished, its building was accomplished at the initiative of the Catholic priests who remained in charge.

The rectangular-shaped church of Tîrgu-Mureş is divided as follows: the altar (finalized in 1729), rather large and surrounded by smaller rooms, the central nave (erected in 1734 and covered in 1740), flanked on both sides by three chapels, the entrance area under the tribunes, separated from the rest of the nave by an arch with three openings and having the two towers on the sides (also built in 1734). The central, larger spaces are covered by cylindrical archways with penetrations, whereas the lateral ones are covered by cross archways.

The façade is divided into three vertical registers and two horizontal levels. The first level includes the inferior part of the towers and the façade up to the gable. The rectangular opening of the entrance topped by a small semi-circular gable, the oblong semicircular windows of the middle register with the extremely plastically articulated “eye-brow” cornices, the rectangular windows with the slightly curved long sides, the niches which hold the statues of Saint Ignatius of Loyola and Saint Francisc Xavierus, the monumental pilasters that mark the towers vertically are all elements of typical Baroque architecture. The superior part of the façade, delimited by a strongly-profiled cornice, includes the triangular gable with its sides slightly curved toward the exterior and decorated with volutes, as well as the two tower roofs shaped as successive bulbs.

The inside of the church is luxurious, with liturgical objects that are true works of art. The main altar, made in 1755 by Anton Schuchbauer and Johannes Nachtigal is of monumental dimensions and has a pseudo-architectural structure with paired columns which support a beautifully profiled entablement with gilded stucco. The main painting of the altar is The Baptism of God, supposedly painted by Michael Angelo Unterberger, a student of the famous Baroque painter G.B. Piazzetta. The main altar also includes the coat-of-arms of the Haller Family, the most important donor, and a painting of the Virgin and the Child. The painting is placed in a typically baroque ensemble made up of a false curtain supported by two putti - sunrays that seem to be springing from behind the painting - angel masks and decorative elements such as volutes. The adornment of the altar is accomplished by the angel statues on the upper area, above the columns, and the two statues in between the columns. The last two represent allegorical characters: Ecclesia embodied by Saint Barbara and the Sinagogue represented by a prophet’s figure. The way body movement is reproduced, the subtle interpretation of the physiognomy, the volumetric and the draping of clothes make of these two statues masterpieces of Transylvanian Baroque art. On the North side of the nave lies another of the church’s piece-de-resistance. It is the pulpit, decorated with wooden statues of the four evangelists: Saint Marc, Saint Matthew, Saint John and Saint Luke, as well as relieves of the crucifixion scene. This was also done in 1755 by Anton Schuchbauer and Johannes Nachtigal, the creators of the altar, with the donations of count Bethlen Miklos and countess Csaky Krisztina.

The paintings of the altars in the lateral chapels: Saint Ladislau, Saint Joseph, Saint John of Nepomuc, Holy Cross belong to the same Michael Angelo Unterberger. The stained glass windows made by the Türke Company of Grottau were installed in 1898. The church was decorated with frescoes only in 1900. Painter Szirmai Antal was the one who decorated the archway with a copy of “The Adoration of the Kings” by Paolo Veronese, in line with the principles of Baroque painting, as well as with the portraits of the Holy Fathers, of Saint Elisabeth, Saint Margaret and the scene of Virgin Mary's assumption.

Via. Photos from here, here, here, here.

Toldalagi Palace, Tîrgu-Mureş

The Toldalagi Palace is located in Tîrgu-Mureş, the seat of Mureş County, Transylvania, Romania.

Between 1759 and 1772, count Toldalagi László and his wife Wass Katalina raised on their property near the Franciscan monastery of Trandafirilor Square the most beautiful and representative building for the Baroque in Tîrgu-Mureş. The beginning of the construction works was delayed by the City Council, but after 1759 when Toldalagi became judge of the Royal Table he was eventually able to realize his plans.

The palace at 11 Trandafirilor Square was built in two stages (1759—1762 and 1770-1772) based on the designs of French architect Jean Louis D'Orr. He designed an U-shaped building, but it was modified later by the addition of a new wing that closed the rear part. Thus, the building is nowadays a rectangular plan, having an interior yard with open galleries. The construction works were supervised by constructor and architect Paul Schmidt. The resulting edifice has a basement covered with semi-cylindrical arched ceilings, a ground floor with rooms lined up on the two sides of the interior yard, a mezzanine and one floor, with a large reception room in the main wing, the one facing the square. A staircase leads from the ground floor to the open gallery of the top floor, with arches supported by brick posts. From here the various rooms disposed on all four sides of the yard may be entered. The ceiling of the rooms on the floor is divided into squares and decorated with floral stucco.

The most spectacular element of the building is the main façade, beautifully decorated in accordance with the artistic precepts of late Transylvanian Baroque. The sculptures that adorn the façade were created by Baroque artist Schuchbauer Antal, author of an impressive portfolio of Baroque ornaments based on anthropomorphic motifs.

The portal of the entrance has an ample basket-handle opening, with a curved keystone. The windows are rectangular and have plaster framing both on the ground floor and on the first floor. The ones on the first floor are larger and more richly decorated, with wreaths of flowers and semi-arched “eyebrow” cornices. Some of the upper parts of these arch segments metamorphose into modeled volutes. Underneath the windows of the top floor lie panels ornamented with stucco that start at the windowsill and descend to the middle area of the façade. Other important elements that articulate the façade are the segmented lesena on the ground floor, composite-capped pilasters on the first floor and the cornice that delimits the ground floor from the first floor on the outside.

On the roof there is a triangular gable with its top severed by a curved cornice the sides of which take the shape of volutes, flanked by two ovoid skylights. The cornice of the gable and the stone framing of the skylights support busts of men placed on small trapezoid supports. These statues, sculpted by Anton Schuchbauer represent Turkish soldiers with their heads wrapped in turbans. The two coats-of-arms of the Toldalagi and Wass families are sculpted on the gable, and above them a crown symbolizing the union between the two noble families. On the façade, above the commemorative plaque an oval medallion with a richly decorated frame is visible. The medallion represents the relieved image of a crow with a ring in its beak.

The building had many functions over the years, in 1786 has been a printing house, in 1920 a bank and in 1960 was installed here the History Department of the County Museum. Currently, since 1984, the building houses the headquarters of the Ethnography Department of the Mureş County Museum.

Via. Images from here, and here.

Happy National Day, Romania!

Happy National Day, Romania!

La Mulţi Ani, România!

1st December 1918

2 photos by Liviu Mihai, from here.
About the National Day of Romania, see our previous post.