At the end of the last century, a major Bucharest publishing house invited me to translate Antoine Golea’s Larousse of Great Composers into Romanian and to include a number of Romanian composers among those selected by the great French encyclopaedist for that dictionary of musical history. It was hard to limit myself to just one hundred names at the time, names that would illustrate what I regarded to be most important in the history of Romanian classical and contemporary music, from its beginnings to the twentieth century.
Twenty years on, I began a similar adventure, this time constrained by the number twenty. In principle, this new adventure meant introducing into the virtual pantheon of classical and contemporary music the names of twenty Romanian composers, who, via complex presentations integrating video, sound, photography, and English and Romanian text, would be made known to as wide as possible a public, which today accesses every area mainly through the Internet.
I must admit that in the case of the dictionary things were far simpler, since I had room for one hundred names, whereas in the original plan for the COOLsound100—The Virtual Platform of Romanian Classical Music we had to settle for an initial selection of twenty videos, composers, works, performers, chosen based on the main criterion of diversity.
We live in a time when the public’s attention is hard to capture and even harder to keep. And the desire to open Romanian classical and contemporary music to today’s wider public has every chance of success if you are willing to adapt to the latest means of communication. Nowadays, many people pay attention to a subject if they watch a video about it. And this is what we have attempted to do via the COOLsound 100—The Virtual Platform of Romanian Classical Music.
Clearly, with just twenty names, we had no way of covering more than a century of Romanian music.
What you will discover in the COOLsound 100—The Virtual Platform of Romanian Classical Music project is first of all an illustration of all, or at least the greater part of, the musical genres to be found in the period: choral and symphonic music, vocal, instrumental and chamber pieces, music for the theatre, and more.
When it comes to performers who have dedicated their careers to Romanian music, we have tried to feature as many names as possible, ranging from the Romanian Youth Orchestra and Radio Children’s Choir to more niche ensembles, such as the Contrasts Trio and the more recent Sonomania, and also soloists who have made Romanian music part of their careers, including Marin Cazacu, Horia Mihail and Gabriel Croitoru, and soloists who have dedicated a large part of their work to contemporary music, such as violinist Diana Moș, flautist Ion Bogan Ștefănescu, and clarinettist Emil Vișenescu. Moreover, we have tried to include on the same platform as many different generations of Romanian performers as possible, ranging from young students such as Izabela Ghergu, Radu Prisada, Mircea Dumitrescu and Vlad Vișenescu to established graduates such as Ștefan Cazacu and Violoncelissimo, continuing with the older generation of renowned soloists mentioned above and composer-performers, such as Irinel Anghel, and culminating with names who have long since transcended every category: cellist Marin Cazacu, conductor Cristian Mandeal, and mezzosoprano Ruxandra Donose, all of whom were glad to be part of this project. You can discover the full list on the www.coolsound.ro platform.
Among the composers on the list of the first twenty to be found on the COOLsound100—The Virtual Platform of Romanian Classical Music, there is no hierarchical precedence, and as I have already said, the principle has been stylistic diversity. There are representatives of the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, such as Ciprian Porumbescu, Tiberiu Brediceanu and Constantin Dimitrescu; there are major names from the inter-bellum, such as Paul Constantinescu and, of course, Georges Enesco; there are major composers from the mid-twentieth century, such as Tiberiu Olah and Sigismund Toduță; but there are also names representative of the final decades of the last century, such as Adrian Iorgulescu, Octavian Nemescu, Doina Rotaru, Călin Ioachimescu, and Violeta Dinescu, the turn of the new millennium, such as Dan Dediu and Irinel Anghel, and the most recent generation, represented by Diana Rotaru and Mihai Măniceanu.
To those who will ask us why major names from Romanian classical, modern and contemporary music are missing, I have a single answer: COOLsound 100—The Virtual Platform of Romanian Classical Music is an open platform, and if the reason to start it now was Romania’s Centenary, we shall continue to look for pretexts to extend it in years to come and to extend the virtual monograph we have now begun and to which there are still many interesting pages to add.
COOLsound 100 is a cultural project funded by the Ministry of Culture and National Identity.