Corneliu Dan Georgescu

Corneliu Dan Georgescu (b. January 1, 1938, Craiova) is a Romanian composer, also active as a musicologist and ethnomusicologist. He studied with Mihail Andricu, Alfred Mendelsohn, Tiberiu Olah, George Breazul at the National University of Music in Bucharest from 1956-61. He attended Darmstadt in 1970 and 1974, where he studied with Kagel, Ligeti, Stockhausen, Wolff, Xenakis, as well as a traditional music workshop and seminar at Slanchev Brjag and Amsterdam in 1977 and 1990, where he studied with Ton de Leeuw, Dimiter Christoff, William Malm.

He was active as a researcher at the Institute of Ethnological and Dialectical Research in Bucharest from 1962-83 (where he was also director of the music department from 1976-80) and at the History of Art Institute in Bucharest between 1984-87. After his emigration in 1987 he worked at the Internationales Institute für traditionelle Musik in Berlin from 1989-91, on a Thyssen-Scholarship, and at the Freie Universität in Berlin from 1991-94. From 1993-2008 he also collaborated to German encyclopaedia Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart and from 2012 hold the seminar Computer-assisted composing. Algorithmic Music at the University in Heidelberg. He was distinguished with prizes for composition and musicology of the Romanian Composers Union (1969-70, 1978, 1982, 1984-85), the George Enescu Prize of the Romanian Academy of Arts and Sciences (1974) and the Prize of Romanian Radio and TV (1974).

As an ethnomusicologist, his principal books are Romanian Folk DanceA Typology of Instrumental Tunes, The Alphorn SignalsA Musical Typology (1984-87, Editura Muzicala, Bucharest), and Improvisation in der traditionellen rumänischen Tanzmusik (1995, K.D. Wagner, Eisenach).

The idea of the objective power of some archetypal musical structures as carrying the collective subconscious, an idea adapted from the psychology of C. G. Jung, has preoccupied Corneliu Dan Georgescu since his first compositions. He treated this idea in the five-article series The Study of Musical Archetypes (about symbolic numbers, repetition, births/death and Yin/Yang archetypes) for Revue Roumaine dHistoire de lArt (1982-87). In the cycle of orchestral pieces Plays he searched the archaic folklore for primitive, elementary structures, which he then treated as components of a palimpsest in an “atemporal” musical form. This kind of music (as theoretized in „Considérations sur une ‚musique atemporelle’“, 1979) “narrates” nothing, but generates a statically, internally vibrating construction. In the next cycle Models the subject of music is constantly the “contemplation of an archetype”, such in the opera Model Mioritic. Another cycle is dedicated to Piet Mondrian, a symbol of a radical aesthetic of simplicity and objectivity, of a strong reduction of colours and forms to elementary structures which do not allow any regional or temporal appartenence, but may have some mystical resonance. This idea was systematically treated in the cycle Atemporal Studies, electronic music (also seen as ambiental music), where repetitive elements as well as consonances or harmonic functions blend together with geometrical symmetries and principles of proportion. In the latest works – electronic, chamber, organ music, most of them with a tape background – the computer is used to control the musical construction as well as to generate the sound. Since 2003, the composer has tried to express his musical ideas also through visual means. He is detaching himself from the avant-garde vs. tradition “competition” or opposition.


STAGE: Model Mioritic (opera, libretto by the composer), 1973; ORCHESTRAL and CHORAL-ORCHESTRAL: the cycle Plays IIX, 1962-80 (Dances; Peisaj; Festive Plays; Collages; Refrains; Pianissimo; Long Songs; Variants of a Dance; Echoes of Plays); the cycle Models, 1967-73 (AlbNegru; Continuo; Rubato); the cycle Homage to Tuculescu (3 symphonies), 1975-85 (Simple Harmonies; Horizontals; The Regards of Colours); the Cycle Outlines for a Fresco: Colinde, chorus and orchestra (text on folklore carols), 1987; Hymns, 1988; Et Vidi Caelum Novum, chorus and orchestra (text from Apocalypses), 1996; Elegia, chorus and tape (vocalizes), 1999; Ex Aeterno Tempore, orchestra, 2004; Prelude to Columna Infinita, orchestra, 2011; CHAMBER MUSIC: the cycle Homage to Piet Mondrian, 1980-2003 (Composition in a Square with Red, Yellow and Blue; Composition with Tons of Pure Colour on White Background; Composition in Grey and Black; Composition in Black and White; Composition with Straight Lines; Composition with Triangles and Squares; Composition with Discontinuous Lines; Composition with Elementary Colours, Dialog Major-Minor, In Perpetuum, Contemplating the Triton). Other works (2003-2011): Dialog with D Minor, A-Minor Obsession; Cum Statua; Omnia Unus Est; VOCAL: Where the Irony Ends (text by Heinrich Heine), speaker, flute, viola, tape, 1997; Clouds-Waves-Sand (on poems in haiku-stile of Christoph Niess), mezzo-soprano, piano, perc., tape, 2001; Ritual for the Silence (on vocalizes), 6 mezzo-sopranos, percussion, tape, 2001; In Lucem Sempiternam, soprano, baritone, organ, 2004; PIANO: Sonata, 1958; Eight Static Compositions, piano, tape, 1968; Signs, piano+tape, 1978; Drei Steinsymbole, piano+tape, 1997; Transsilvanische Motive (3 vol.), 2001-2003; Dialog mit CIS moll, 2002; ORGAN: Contemplative Preludes, 1991-2000 (Ascendo; Spatium; Orbis IIV, Orbis V: Motus Verticalis); Reflecting J.S. Bach, 1999; B-Minor Fixation, 2010, etc.; ELECTROACOUSTIC: Atemporal Studies, 1980 (Corona Borealis; Aequillibrium); Crystal Silence, 1989; Sketch for a Spiritual Building, 1994; New Zealand Meditations, 1998; NordSeeHorizonte, 1999; Music for a Illuminating Conversion, 2000; End-a-Beginning (on poems in haiku-stile of Christoph Niess), 2002; Ritual for the Harmony, 2006

FILMS (2003-2012): Silberklang; NordSeeHorizonte; Resonanzen; Ostern Meditation; Sliding; Atemporal Landscapes; Waves; De Sublimi Finis

Official website, here.