Romania Culture and Music

By | November 4, 2021


The Dacogetic civilization, which developed with the establishment of the unitary state of Burebista (1st century BC), left important evidence in the remains of its capital Sarmizegetusa and in the other Dacian citadels of Transylvania (Porolisso, Blidaru, Piatra Rosie, Costesti): some indigenous sanctuaries were made up of parallel alignments of column shafts, while the complex plans of some buildings (for example the Popesti Palace near Bucharest) are inspired by Hellenistic models. The treasures of vases and silver ornaments also show evident Hellenistic influences, coming from the Greek cities (then already part of the Roman province of Moesia) of Histria (see Istria), Tomi and Callati on the Black Sea. The most important and most extensive archaeological remains are those relating to the Roman domination, which goes from Trajan to Aurelian for Dacia (see Dacians) and continues beyond for the lower Moesia, that is for Dobruja. In addition to the military works of the limes, the grandiose triumphal monument of Adamclisi and the new Roman city of Ulpia Traiana, which will add to its name that of Sarmizegetusa, the ancient capital of Decebalus, there are numerous Roman military and then civil centers, often built on previous Dacian settlements. Among them is Apulum, today Alba Iulia (castro with his praetorium), Porolissum near Zalău (castro and several public buildings, including the amphitheater), Potaissa, today Turda, Micia, today Vitel (amphitheater, thermal baths, three-cell temple Roman type dedicated by the Mauri Miccenses, i.e. by the Moors following the Roman army), Cluj-Napoca, Drobeta-Turnu Severin with numerous monuments of the castro and remains of the bridge over the Danube, Căsei (castro), Romula, today Resca (castro, curia), Tibiscum, today Jupa at Caransebes (castro, temple). Some rustic and suburban villas are also known. The cities that later became the border, such as Drobeta and Romula, and those of Dobruja also gave fortifications and monuments from the late age of Justinian’s time: in addition to Histria and Tomis we can remember the fortresses of Troesmis (Iglita), the castro repeatedly rebuilt by Capidava, the basilica complex of Callatis, the marble basilicas of Trophaeum Traiani. Important are the numerous works of sculpture and in particular the votive and funerary statues and the cult reliefs (different with the figure of the Danubian Knight); the local art, highly expressive, has oriental and Hellenistic influences but also motifs of Roman art from upper Italy and the western provinces of the empire (see also Rome). The numerous epigraphs are precious for the knowledge of the cults, institutions and customs of the region. The most important archaeological materials (including bronzes, terracotta, coins, as well as treasures from the era of migration) are in the National Museum of Bucharest; others in local museums, including Alba Iulia, Deva, Timisoara, Costanza, Cluj-Napoca, Turnu Severin.


Even if no compositions have been received, it is certain that music was present in Romania since ages prior to the Greeks and Romans, as evidenced by a large number of documentary testimonies. According to zipcodesexplorer, a recovery of the Romanian musical tradition was carried out in the century. XVII by the Benedictine monk J. Căjoni (1634-1671), who transcribed for virginal and enriched with the basso continuo popular songs and dances, bringing them together in the Codex Cajoni. In the sec. XVIII Dimitrie Cantemir, prince of Moldavia, collected documents in the Descriptio Moldaviae (1716), and the Valachische Täntze und Lieder appeared (1781) by the Austrian J. Sulzer. These works testify to general analogies of Romanian music with Greek theory, albeit in original melodic and rhythmic structures. Although the emergence of an autonomous language was primarily hindered by the Turkish domination, in the Middle Ages national forms and genres were outlined (epic and lyric songs, ritual dances and songs, laments). In the religious field, under the influence of Byzantine music, a reunion and codification of liturgical chants were carried out, starting from the century. XIX, from Macarius the Geromonk, Anton Pann and Ion D. Petrescu, who also contributed to creating real schools, which later merged into the conservatories of music and dramatic art, supported by the state, promoter, moreover, of numerous philharmonic societies, choral associations, ballet companies, schools and popular music centers. The work of contemporary Romanian composers (of which the most famous was George Enescu, 1881-1955) tended to extensively enhance popular material, translating it into the forms of European cultured music. As everywhere in Eastern Europe, the last years of the twentieth century marked a rediscovery of the traditional musical heritage, partly reworked according to the rhythms and sounds of Western pop. The Romanian musical tradition is particularly rich, as it is nourished by the musicality of the Roma people: once, every village or almost had its own group of musicians, the lautari, gathered in a taraf, which played at weddings, funerals and on any occasion. party. The tarafs they are still in demand for weddings, but the traditional repertoire, the so-called lautareasca music in which an interpreter such as the violinist Rom Florea Cioaca excelled, was gradually expelled from the market. Since the 1990s, an extremely popular type of music has also spread to the poorest strata of the population in Romania and is regarded with suspicion by the official culture, which mixes traditional music, Turkish pop (the so-called arabesk), hip-hop and dance, the so-called manele. The best known pop singer from Romania was Dan Spataru (1939-2004).

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