Dinu Lipatti Sonata for the good man – Romanian Television TVR documentary (English subtitles)


[Piano playing in the background — Schumann Piano Concerto, in A minor, OP. 54] Dinu Lipatti Sonata for the good man Grigore Bărgăuanu: The first moment when I heard about Dinu Lipatti … … was in my childhood; I was around 10 years old I think It happened when a relative of my family, after hearing me playing at the piano and congratulating me of my extraordinary ability as a pianist Told me “you know… Dinu Lipatti has died” This was the first moment when I heard the name “Dinu Lipatti” It is bizarre this “meeting” with Lipatti. I didn’t know who Lipatti was It was explained to me and after several weeks the same person came and told me “you know… Dinu Lipatti didn’t died” What happened? A very serious journalist from Switzerland seeing that Lipatti is missing; he missed around 8 months from concert life at the end of 1949 and beginning of 1950 … … declared him dead in a newspaper saying “Lipatti is dead” (he was very loved in Switzerland) No, fortunately the news was not fair The second [moment] is the conference of Dragoș Tănăsescu about Lipatti which profoundly impressed me … and which was for a long time, I don’t know the exact year, but in any case after 1950 when Lipatti still was looked upon with caution by the Romanian [communist] authorities and … not to say that he was also excluded from the Composers Union just like [George] Enescu Dragoș Tănăsescu: I got the occasion to assist to a concert of Dinu Lipatti and then the need to know his life appeared and I had the chance, with my friend Grigore Bărgăuanu, to make a series of booklets, articles and radio broadcasts in which I gave all the data I had up to that time with my colleague regarding this book Grigore Bărgăuanu: It’s hard to say if I got close to Lipatti due to his tragic life or due to his value; both of these mix together At the conference of Dragoș Tănăsescu I was of course impressed by all the details of Lipatti’s life … … by his evolution and his international recognition in such short time His international career lasted for only 7 years Not more Before that, he had a career in the country [Romania] for several years with tours in the nearby countries But … his international career and appreciation which went also over the Ocean via the vinyls which started to hand about was very short And these two elements, the tragic life: the human beauty of the personage and the perfectioning of his art, especially the pianistic one combined together in my soul and I started independently, by myself to make some research Dragoș Tănăsescu: Talking about Dinu Lipatti, we understand making a summary of the books and all of the correspondence that we had done I think this is not of interest More likely I’d tell you some isolated episodes from which some meanings can be written The discussion about Dinu Lipatti permanently relates to Florica Musicescu [Lipatti’s teacher] through the value and collaboration between them in such a way that you can’t talk about Florica Musicescu without talking about Dinu Lipatti, and vice-versa Florica Musicescu: Dinu Lipatti was simple and modest in his nature, and his interpretations carry the seal probity like a simple quote and total sincerity in his musical speech united with the perfection control of the sound material this, entirely subordinate to the expressive content The image of the artist with that of the man have harmoniously overlapped in an impressive relief which explains the international fame of the Romanian pianist Dinu Lipatti committed in life at the age of only 33 Quick-witted With a very fine sense of humor Shy and bold at the same time Always careful, cautionary, discreet and extremely generous in his relations with people He loved the nature And from all of his being a warm and mild goodwill was flowing as a beneficent light These are the characteristical features which nourished the root of his exceptional music gifts Grigore Bărgăuanu: He had an extraordinary innate talent and ease of manual exercise, physical It was like he had all the qualities specially made for the piano: a big hand which when it developed it could reach a duodecima (twelfth), from C to G which resembles some few great pianists like Johann Sebastian Bach for example, which he also had an extraordinary hand or some more recent pianists, like Richter or like Benedetti Michelangeli He arrived under Florica Musicescu at the proposal of Mihail Jora Lipatti started his musical training, so to speak, with his mother which holding him on her lap taught him Bach preludes Afterwards he had a professor which name I couldn’t find out Name that is mentioned in several places A professor quite advanced in age which was very agreeable and which Lipatti says he loved her very much His parents when wanted and took the decision to lead him towards music especially Theodor Lipatti; I’m coming back to him because, at least in Lipatti’s childhood, he was his masonry only later it was his mother He [Theodor] addressed to Mihail Jora which was a major musical personality at that time and asked him to let them come over to listen the small boy Jora accepted while very skeptical saying “I haven’t these kind before”, says somewhere in an interview “I had seen these kind before in my saloon and they weren’t doing so… [well]” But when he heard Lipatti playing he remained so amazed of the qualities of Lipatti that he accepted immediately to give him lessons Dragoș Tănăsescu: Florica Musicescu’s severity has also other meanings, for example there were some conventions between the professors back then: the so called prisoner exchange There were two major professors at that time, in the beginning of the century: Florica Musicescu and Muza Ciomac Despite the completely different temperaments they were good friends and they were doing what is called “the exchange of prisoners” When the “prisoners” were going to Muza Ciomac there was happiness, and when going from Muza Ciomac to Florica Musicescu they were desperate of what was about to come next With this occasion, however, Muza Ciomac tells me personally this following information: “When the young, teenager Lipatti came to me I didn’t believe that he would have this evolution” “There was this tendency towards technique and only repetitions of techniques” “and look what development never thought by me he had under the artistic impression” This is another matter which, of course, is a matter of psychology that however is very interesting But, since we’re talking about technique here, Lipatti has an observation which, maybe, should have some equivocal interpretation Lipatti says about Florica Musicescu: “I fully indebted my pianistic craft to her” This major compliment that he makes to her is more for complaisance because the happening made that I got to know a letter in which a different and maybe the true Lipatti can be seen It is because of the tenderness that a sensation of being frail, suave, is created He was a very energetic guy, and very ergodic But this matter was not seen because of his exterior politeness that was determinant in his given qualification For example, Florica Musicescu having as student a sent graduate from the Conservatoire of Bulgaria to take lessons, got annoyed of the pupil being late, she opened the door, only to get to see Petrov kneel and pray Grigore Bărgăuanu: Florica Musicescu is famous through her relaxation exercises Which had an extraordinary effect for some of her students, especially on Lipatti [Exercises] for relaxation which were tough to go through; hard on a child in any case I know that I talked with her Once, she asked me to take care of a pupil saying: “I cannot take care the pupil” “but you can ask him to make three entries” And she put me at the piano to make three entries The first move I did: “no, it’s wrong” It was an exercise in which the student was supposed to leave his arms relaxed And then to attack, to attack a note, a chord This attack being made directly with a suppleness and with a total lightness of the arm It’s an essential element and very difficult to obtain, especially for the youth To have the fingers very well prepared, rounded and agile and sensitized, so, tough in a way as if you have small lead in … [the fingertips] and the arm light as a bird wing This gives you the possibility to nuance When you have the arm very light you’re able to nuance if you want to. You have from where to aggrevate There exists a very big possibility for gradation and this liberty of the arm brings the sensibility in the fingertips [It] makes everything to flow in the fingertips These are things that my professor she has explained to me Matei Varga: For me, Lipatti is an inspiration from extraordinary many viewpoints First of all, his lyricism and poetry that he brings in each of his phrase that he plays Then, his extraordinary fidelity for the composer’s intention and the fact that he always puts himself in the service of music as someone [George Enescu] used to say “Serve the music and don’t serve by it” It’s, I believe, a very very important thing And it seems obvious to me in every piece that I listen to Obviously, the quality of the sound and the technique perfection which nowadays we want more and more, and we have the impression that many get to realize it But not with the accuracy and that kind of musical and artistic honesty which Lipatti has And he had it forever I think, in any case, in everything he had left for us as inheritance in his recordings Yehudi Menuhin: Unfortunately I have only but regrets, I have the great regret that I did not play with him I have the great regret that I didn’t get to know him in the years he was around George Enescu when I could have known him better. Even though we were acquaintances for a few years, the impression I have on him far surpasses those few moments we had together. He remains a great being who brought a kind of special atmosphere because both he and Enescu were interpreting the music in the same way He was devoting himself entirely, to the music. Reporter: When you are facing a piece that you don’t know you use to have a technique to decipher it’s subtleties to reach an interpretation close to perfection Dinu Lipatti: I don’t have such said technique but obviously, I need to establish to myself a plan to simplify and to shorten my working time which is the most ingrate, but in a way, also the most beautiful The first week, I try to learn the piece without touching the piano It’s an advantage especially in the case of a piece for piano and orchestra because I am not only learning my part but the whole work Only afterwards that I try to establish my fingering, because a good fingering reduces in half the work for you and allows you to have the piece memorized for years Follow the nuances and here you need to conform as much as possible to the indications, intentions and suggestions of the author. A month or two are enough for me to get to know a piece but not to play it in public. I consider that you need to leave it afterwards at rest and after a few months to resume it for the final interpretation Sometimes I have the joy to realize that in this time the piece had matured by itself. Matei Varga: Everybody knows about Lipatti and to my great amazement, every piano player that I speak with every young pianist or less younger pianist mentions to me Lipatti’s name each time it comes about their pianists of preference. And Lipatti is in their most favorite pianists; if they’re saying two or three names from the pianists history there are high chances for Lipatti to be amongst them — something that for me, personally, is not a surprise at all but delights me and makes me happy Unfortunately, of course, is much much less known that he also composed and that he composed very nice music In many cases his talent is obvious in each of his works I think that, here, something more can be done and I feel responsible as well, from this point of view because sure, the world knows extremely well who Lipatti was, but not many are aware that he was a composer as well, not only a pianist Thus I believe this is something we should think about and at which I personally think of and I would like to change a little bit the perception from this point of view Grigore Bărgăuanu: I change the harmony Afterwards, a faster second part And a closing … [grave] Full of applaud It should have been very amusing; these 5-6 years old childs playing this In this collection of pieces there are some very childish ones like this printemps (Spring) Or some others inspired from urban folklore that he could listen to and which, especially, was encouraged by “la bonne” [Lipatti’s nanny] it’s a [indescribable] that look, for example, he wrote this for her It’s a popular style Totally different from the others Thus, he already had a very varied palette of musical preoccupations Afterwards, “Sweet remembrance” with sixth flat in key OK, he had no idea of flat [concept], he was playing [knew he had to play] on the black keys Completely different, the atmosphere: very profound and very inspired Maria Fotino: Unforgotten remains the moment when I heard him as a composer when he was only 5 years old I find a perfect equilibrium between exceptional technique possibilities and the living of the musical works at a high spiritual level This conjunction is rarely found and I believe that from Liszt, which was said about, to be the biggest pianist of his time, but not having the possibility to listen to him as an interpreter Dinu Lipatti remains with the advantage to be verified, so to speak, in all the perfect recordings that he left to us Grigore Bărgăuanu: He was a man with a lot of humor and talented in many aspects His mother says in her book that at the birth of Lipatti’s brother, Valentin Lipatti’s first care was to protect his brother’s hands because he wanted to give to Valentin piano lessons And afterwards, when his brother grew up, Lipatti was telling him made up stories [Stories] with all kinds of fairies and invented characters, and he [Lipatti] was playing them like an actor he was telling these stories to Valentin in a very suggestive way I was at the concerts in the first place, I was at the repetitions as well There was an episode which he gave with George Enescu and I remember that Lipatti was always blowing his nose I tell to him “Dinule, stop with that nose already” and about the nose (making an anatomical regard) Lipatti liked very much an étude by Chopin in thirds which he asked the professor if she allows him to play it while Florica Musicescu with her tenderness I was speaking about, told to him “it’s not enough you have such a big nose, you’re also having it boldly” “mind your business because you still have a long way until you can do this ètude” Lipatti didn’t told her anything but studied it and after 3 months he played it for her And now what Florica Musicescu tells me, “I was amazed, he played it [the étude] extraordinarily” Nadia Boulanger: He did not only interpret with a great emotion but with a real respect for the great values I thank the Heaven that I knew Lipatti so well that I truly understood who he truly was, from the time he was alive I thank and bless him for his immeasurable affection that he has given to me Nadia Boulanger, his teacher, told him “I want you to compose more and play the piano less” “I can’t my dear to do that, this is how much I love the piano”, he replies In the same time, Florica Musicescu says, “Lipatti was humble, he knew that in the face of composers he needed to have that…” reverence, as I usually say it, straightly But worst it seemed to me George Enescu’s statement after Lipatti’s death, George Enescu says the following: “He was the great pianist that we know, but else would have been for others if he was a composer” This hierarchy that is made between the interpreter and the composer I think is false from the start When you reach superlative levels there are no comparisons being made anymore That you can be a composer of value or bad You can be an interpreter of value and be valuable up to being brilliant Such that I think this subordination that has been created until today Even today, everyone believes that to be a composer is important, while to be an interpreter somewhat… accepted Mara Dobrescu: Dinu impressed through this simplicity that I think he was looking for in all the pieces He was trying to get to the “truth of the piece” as he was putting it and by looking in the day by day work of the piece he was trying to remove that he was thinking of being to personal and to leave only the core truth of the piece And, as he was saying to his students, “when you have found this core truth, have the courage to tell it to the public with a loud voice” Jacques Chapuis: At Lipatti, there exists a great unity between him as a being and the music; firstly, we all are a person a body, an intelligence, a sensibility, a spirituality And he was a great artist, endowed with the capacitiy to be in touch with spiritual forces, magical, supernatural The word does not matter but this force existed and he had it even in the eyes You couldn’t forget his look And it existed in the sounds that were coming out from the fingers held above the keys And this was felt during his recitals And it can still be felt in the recordings despite the imperfections obvious if we compare with the todays technology Dragoș Tănăsescu: Lipatti left with Madeleine the first time somehow stealing his wife because she was already married with Cantacuzino, someone else What I mean is that it was also a matter of intrigue and family problems, and Cantacuzino refused to divorce until the last year of Lipatti’s life Besides, if Lipatti hadn’t done like that, Madeleine was not able to come forward, but only after she saw she was the wife of Lipatti [gеt married] From this point of view, regarding the wife, I again create a parenthesis Lipatti’s mother had great adversity which I’d say was negative and which didn’t generate apprecations from the mother nor from Madeleine Lipatti made the will exclusively for Madeleine Lipatti; talking about this will, I thought I could ??? to see if ??it’s false?? nothing for his mother because he said, “after I’m gone, Madeleine will have time, mother won’t understand [how] to do [it]” Lipatti’s mother sued Madeleine, [and] there was a court trial after this trial she got to obtain a sort of a compensation from the Romanian state in her quality as a mother because she no longer had the rights to inheritance through this will I mean, Lipatti’s [copy]rights were limited via this will which were made strictly for his mother His mother noticed this detail, and frequently had these parenthesis [commentaries] holding reserves regarding Madeleine Lipatti Madeleine Lipatti: What more can I say about Lipatti? He was deeply human, generous, understanding, indulgent with others and very severe with himself All along he was sick, he proved superhuman courage He wanted to offer happiness despite his physical condition, which was dramatic Dragoș Tănăsescu: Besides, in the few letters that I’ve got regarding the love between Lipatti and Madeleine, are letters of the following kind: “I love you with green, with blue …”, he makes some comparisons of course, of colors a kind of enthusiastic love and ??totally exaggerated?? His malady began to manifest from 1943 until, at a point, it was found that he was suffering from Hodgkin’s disease which is [scientifically] named Malignant Lymphogranuloma, anyways… It was given to him a series of treatments, from which most tiring were the X-Rays The malady was discovered and all the treatments that were available at that time were tried I had the occasion in Geneva to get to know his doctor, amongst others which explained to me the different stages of the disease and the medication that was given to him and the doctor got very close, he cared very much for Lipatti In the last photography of Dinu Lipatti, we can see him holding in his arms a baby Lipatti has a charming smile and we cannot imagine, seeing him, that it was several weeks before his death The baby is my biggest daughter, she’s now 20 years old And Dinu was her godfather This story is very touching Some time before, while my daughter, still to be born, one day I meet Lipatti’s doctor and I ask him “Doctor, is there still hope?” “No, there aren’t” Then, I tell him, “but what can be done for him?” “He could die tomorrow, he could live 7 months more” “All you can do for him is to give him the impression that you believe in his life and to treat him as someone that truly is part of us” I was very impressed by this, and, back home I told to my wife “Would you agree to ask Dinu to be the godfather of our child?” “Because, in this manner we will give him the impression that we truly believe that he will survive” And then, my wife, accepted and this is how Lipatti got to be the godfather of my daughter, Allegra If you ask me today what I think of him, well, I think that he’s extraordinarily alive That, rarely an artist continued to live in the same manner in memory of those who knew him His music, his vinyls are listened and you’ve the impression that Dinu is here He had something in his interpretation as if it was imperishable, something that made you think at an angel And, maybe because of this it seems to me that time does not go over his interpretations Yet, something wonderful happens with Dinu and therefore we cannot think of him sadly It was the joy itself, it was someone which had so much gratitude for living, so much love for music that all his life was a smile, like this smile he has in his last photos Grigore Bărgăuanu: The physical decline starts once with his real and extraordinary international career and it’s a major contrast for him how to express in a letter “Before”, he says, “I was perfectly healthy and was pulling the cat by her tail” [wasting time] “Now”, he says, “I’ve proposals for concerts everywhere and I can’t cope” He had proposals for America for a year or more over there, in a tour Afterwards for Australia, and not to say about the proposals from Europe to which he coped as much as he could But the illness prevented him to travel outside Europe, only as far as England he went There, he was well received, admirable and he made some recordings which remained famous He suffered from many things, he had a decalcification of the spine He was in danger of being paralyzed because of it He had a complex physical suffering and the doctor made extraordinary efforts having the best result at the time when cortisone was discovered which was very expensive during that period, and thanks to some extraordinary aid given by several personalities: Yehudi Menuhin, Stravinsky, Charles Munch the cortisone was brought to him from America and was administered to him at the beginning of 1950 with an extraordinary effect, he had the impression and says that he reemerges Following this treatment, Lipatti recovered and at the beginning of 1950 after long days of absence from musical life He came back with several concertos which remained memorable: in Zürich, in Bern in Geneva, in February 1950, is the famous concerto where he plays the Schumann concerto with Ernest Ansermet to which ?Cruncher? said that the arrival of Lipatti was received with warmth and unbelievable enthusiasm by the public and the recording exists of this concerto, which is much more emotional than his famous disc, very good nonetheless, which is given as an example, the one of the Schumann concerto under the direction of Herbert von Karajan [Dinu Lipatti playing Mozart Concerto No. 21 in C, K467] Dragoș Tănăsescu: Lipatti’s last recital from Besançon has that respective nocturne of great beauty, which he plays; regarding this moment, he said in a statement, “I don’t regret the disease I have, it helped me become more sensible” This aspect is very interesting as well Grigore Bărgăuanu: With the occasion of the movie made by Philippe Roger at Besançon, I met some people which assisted to the festival and whom all were over 20 years old back then A lady that was in foreground in one of the photos; the photographer who was almost 100 years old when I met him over there and whom he gave me a series of photos which were not known, very surprising and beautiful made by him from all corners from the view of the public, from the scene, and, everybody remembers, although, this memory is like a bruma [I asked] “But, how did he presented?”, they say, “he presented”… they didn’t know [remember] to say details that interested me For example, Lipatti couldn’t play the last waltz that was predicted in the order [of pieces] It’s being said, but nobody said exactly that, he had begun two measures and stopped And that, he stopped, didn’t play, he returned to the cabin and then he returned in order to play his famous dream, Bach’s chorale, Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring And she couldn’t remembered in order to tell me exactly regarding this matter, so, this I didn’t know The fact that, the Chorale was played, it remained in the mind of those who listened it as something so extraordinary which unfortunately was not recorded [Excerpt from the movie “Last concert” directed by Philippe Rouger] Dragoș Tănăsescu: About Lipatti I can say that he died too soon Moreover, during his concerto Lipatti had a bottle with cortisone and from time to time he would drink from it such that at the last waltz not being able to play it and faint out behind the scenes this didn’t came out [in the recording] out of the fear that it will rollover this moment was not recorded just by chance, through some particularly circumstances those prints appeared because they avoided to record even if ??we arrive with the concerto at the end?? Grigore Bărgăuanu: It’s hard to conclude in few words Lipatti’s personality which manifested in main domains: the piano and composition very gifted in one and the other, reaching the best possible for the 33 years of life regarding the piano achieved less in composition due to lack of time and energy but with some elements which predicted what [Paul] Dukas was saying, who was his professor from École Normale [de Paris] “he will be a second [George] Enescu” There were some elements of high value in composition Thus, complex personality, from a musical standpoint A very complex and deep personality from the human point of view and a life full of light, pain and suffering It’s extraordinary to see the trajectory of this man who, we could say, defeated the destiny through what he succeeded in realizing Far surpassing what we could do with our modest ways Dragoș Tănăsescu: Lipatti was aware of his value, and in the same time, his need to show these values for which he had, let’s say, the shyness to present them For this reason, that aspect of being shy; Lipatti appears like a deity, ethereal when actually Lipatti was a very lucid guy and very ordered He didn’t start the study unless he had all the pencils very well sharpened, arranged in their row, in order Meaning, he was also formalistic Otherwise, it wouldn’t have been possible for a man to have this much precision in the text he’s making without this inclination of being a formalist, in a good way

4 thoughts on “Dinu Lipatti Sonata for the good man – Romanian Television TVR documentary (English subtitles)

  1. lipatti est un génie immense un des plus grands pianistes du xxème siècle parti trop tôt trop haut vers les cîmes de la musique planétaire , l'enregistrement de la télé roumaine est pathétique mais là n 'est pas la question ,, difficile de trouver les enregistrements de lipatti pour ses compositeurs favoris , brahms en somme ,, pour l'amoureux de schubert que je suis dinu lipatti nous à laisser des enregistrements que seul brendel parvien égaler et encore pas toujours tant lipatti appartient à ce genre d'interprètes mystèrieux inaccessibles qui nous propose une musique trop rare pour la banaliser ,, lipatti avait l'infime intuition la passion , le mystère , le tempo l'alchime , l'adéquation d'un style auquel il ne voyait pas de limite , il paraissait incomparable et à le voir jouer on pu se dire que l'homme improvisait tant il semblait inondé par la grâce , par les arcanes d'une existence qu'il savait plus que quiconque éphémère ,ces divines prémonitions l'aidèrent il à quitter cette ou il se sentait trop à l'étroit et il recherchait sans issue la voie ésotérique d'une perfection qu'il approcha sans pouvoir l'atteindre , bien conscient que son jeu appartenait à un monde de transcendante métaphysique ,, il en éclot un patchwork d'expressions dont il n'ignorait nulle souffrance lui qui grandit dans cette roumanie tiraillée entre le grand frère soviétique et un désir de liberté que la majestueuse haskil découvrit dans les concerti de mozart , la roumanie détenait ses prodiges et peu viendraient encore illuminer les rives du danube , entre bucarest et la mer noire , ou beaucoup cherchaient l'inspiration coincés entre orient et occident ou régnait la musique germanique ,,

  2. It is a wonderful documentary about one of the greatest pianists. I have always loved Dinu Lipatti. I was thrilled to see in the documentary my former Music Theory professor Grigore Bargauanu from the Music Academy in Bucarest in 1971. I was student at the Organ department having Helmut Plattner as my professor.

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