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Happy Birthday, Ștefan Zorzor!
His creative repertoire includes chamber, symphonic opera and film and stage scores.
Mr. Ștefan Zorzor, thank you for accepting this challenge. It is an important day in your life. Happy birthday first and best wishes from us, Radio Romania Music! It is certainly a day like any other, a beautiful spring day and composer and professor Ștefan Zorzor is surely making plans. What are these plans, Mr. Zorzor?
The plans begin by being in good health. I fight with courage, because there are 82 years since this heart has been beating and, thank God, it still beats regularly, it's ok. We compose, we make string quartets, we keep some preludes for the piano and we have some bigger plans, a larger vocal-symphonic work dedicated to some people, not to just one person, but to some people who meant something in my life. That's the plan for now.
You have left Romania for many years, but have remained very connected, very connected with your friends here and all that was important in your musical education. Who are the people who have had the most influence on your career?
There are many who helped me. Firstly, I think of Marțian Negrea, who, in a very difficult moment for me when I was expelled from the Conservatory with no motivation whatsoever, continued to give me free harmony lessons. I would go to his house, he would open the door wide, it was not his manner to open the door a bit and show his face, he would open the door completely, he would invite me in and he would give me free harmony lessons for a year, because I had nothing, we were very poor. My father was in jail; my mother was struggling to keep us alive by selling our stuff, so it was a very difficult time in our lives. And at that moment Marțian Negrea was giving me free lessons. Another person who helped me greatly was my colleague and my chum, Aurel Stroe, whose knowledge and universality of thought has influenced me a lot, in ideas and orientation. There is one more person who helped me incredibly, quietly, not making a fuss. This man was Ion Dumitrescu. He gave me work when nobody else would hire me. For example, he gave me the opportunity, after a pleurisy I’d had, to go for a week or 10 days to Sinaia, in a rest home for the artists, as it was back then, and it was a real help. Here are three of them. There are others.
If you were in front of your students at this moment, how would you define your role as a creator?
I would try to raise their interest, by being myself genuinely interested in what they do and by being true to what is now called music in this world, the music I observe now with experimented eyes, experimented ears. So I’d try to make them love what they do, to show sincerity, that's the word. Not to make a trend, not to imitate, but to feel what produces this music. For example, now, old as I am, without being decrepit I write classical music more than I once wrote , because many of the experiments that at some point were interesting us, were dazzling us, were frightening us, were moving us forward, began to melt because of lack of quality, lack of depth and in impossible shapes to resist in time. Today when I listen to Guillaume de Marchaut’s music I realize that there are things that can last and this is very important attitude towards music.
We should say to our younger listeners, Mr. Ștefan Zorzor, that you are a part of that generation that wanted to break with the tradition and still you return today.
You have to fight with tradition, in every flourish that you write have to find something new, the possibility of a new idea. You do not rewrite Mozart or Haydn’s works, you write something new, but the research has to be sincerely inside the music, not equipments and silly things that astonish an audience looking for sensation. It's also something perennial that has to be done. Lately, I may be old, I know, this can be seen at all the elder composers, I turn slightly to the music essentials, write notes and no effects. I wrote a string quartet now, there's not one effect, apart some pizzicato notes, the rest is pure classical music. And this return to the classicism can be seen in everyone, in Messiaen at the end of his life, in Stravinsky at the end of his life and in Beethoven. It is music conceived and somewhat serene, somewhat Apollonian. So that’s what I wanted to say about my moment in today’s music.
Translated by Liliana Andreiu and Elena Daniela Radu
MTTLC, The University of Bucharest