Romania mourns a gentle symphonist

The composer Pascal Bentoiu died today, aged 88.

He leaves 8 symphonies and a large volume of chamber music.

Pascal Bentoiu

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  • He had been ill for a while, so that although this news is very sad, it is not surprising. His book on Enescu’s music is profoundly insightful; indeed, it is one of the most important of all books on music, and he was a major composer in his own right. He was also one of the most delightful people you could hope to meet, his gentle manner informed by an understated sense of irony. Someone told me a Bentoiu story just after I had met him in Bucharest. After a meeting of the Romanian Composers’ Society, everyone stood back (Romania being a very polite society) to let Pascal go out the door first, since he was the most senior person in the room — even though he was furthest from the door. He gestured that the people nearest the door should go first but no one moved. He shrugged and said: “Ah, well, in order of burial…” and went out. I did — and still do — have plans to record some of his music on Toccata Classics, as he knew; sadly he won’t be around to enjoy the result. I salute his memory.

  • Dear Mr. Anderson: Ever since a review of the set of Bentoiu symphonies on the Romanian label Electrecord was published a few years ago in the now unfortunately defunct International Record Review, I have been trying to get a copy of that set, to no avail. Would it be possible for Toccata to license those recordings from Electrecord for wider distribution? If so, I would buy the set immediately. It would be well worth hearing.

    • Meanwhile, one can listen to that entire set (and much much more) on the Electrecord youtube channel, albeit in reduced sound quality.

    • Michael; I have this set at home. I also tried to buy it online to no avail, so I was buying it from Bucharest. The sound quality is extremely(!) poor, but it’s certainly very interesting music.

  • This is a great loss. One should point out that his wife, Annie, a distinguished writer, died less than two months ago. Her autobiographical book, “The time that was given to us”, depicts life in communist Romania.

    Getting back to Pascal, I agree with Mr. Anderson about the book on Enescu, thankfully finally available in English and German translations – Raluca Stirbat, who singlehandedly rescued Enescu’s house contributed to the translation.

    Also, hopefully Mr. Anderson will be able to license from the Romanian Radio a recording of the opera “Hamlet”. And I look forward to whatever other things he’ll record. Meanwhile, those interested should know that a CD of Mr. Bentoiu’s music is available from German Amazon (usual disclaimers).

    One of Mr. Bentoiu’s teachers was Theophil Demetriescu, a pupil of Busoni.

    May he rest in piece.

    • We have plans to record his string quartets. I looked into the possibility of licensing “Hamlet” but IIRC the recording was too old — the same problem which affects the Electrecord box of the symphonies.

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