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Interview with Ioana Bentoiu about the launch of the book "Living through history. Letters to Ioana" by Pascal Bentoiu
Thursday, the 20th of October 2022, at 19.00, at the Humanitas Cișmigiu Bookshop, the launch of the book "Living through history. Letters to Ioana" by Pascal Bentoiu. Ioana Bentoiu - the musician's daughter, who wrote the preface and a note on the publication, Cristina Comandașu - Radio Romania Muzical's manager and IoanStanomir - literary critic, publicist and political scientist will be speaking.
We learn more details from Ioana Bentoiu - opera artist and voice teacher:
Living through history. Letters to Ioanais the volume you will be launching on Thursday evening. This experience of living through history is depicted in four letters addressed to you by your father, because you asked him to do so, and thus we can now discover Pascal Bentoiu's vision regarding life in Romania, both before the communist regime and in the following decades, up until the 1990s of the last century. How did your desire to have these memories in writing come about?
My father was a humanist, he knew the ancient languages and literatures, he knew history, he nurtured the human values and put man at the centre of all things. He counted on man's intelligence and his capacity for self-improvement. So, given his analytical and synthesizing skills and his intelligence, my father could have pursued any other profession - law, politics, history or writing. Needless to say, there was no question of doing law or politics during the communist years, and he had a prevailing passion for music. But you could talk about absolutely anything with my father. We would talk about music, but we would also talk about many other things and he had friends from all fields - literature, theatre (because he had done incidental music for 30 plays and had friends who were directors and actors), many musicians, painters. There were people who came to our house or to whose house we went to and I, as a child, witnessed a lot of very interesting conversations that went far beyond the topic of music.
So, Pascal Bentoiu - composer and musicologist, known as the most important international expert on Enescu's work - was also an intellectual who possessed a vast knowledge in fields other than music. Thus, the volume provides valuable information with accurate dates both for the history of Romanian music and for other fields of work. How would you recommend this book to both musicians and readers with other professions?
I prompted my father to write these letters to me because he was a connoisseur of Romanian history and everything he wrote there is from memory - a truly outstanding memory. For me, the information goes in one ear and out the other and I told him at one point, "Dad, please write to me! Because I can certainly obtain books, but I trust what you tell me more." And so he was tempted by the idea. These letters are not like the others he has written to me, of which there are a tremendous amount of from the last almost 30 years I have lived in Switzerland. These letters are completely different. I asked him to write me in a historic manner, to do something systematic - which he did - with a few annotations from my mother, who added a few typewritten appendices. Granted, this text is meant to be read, but he never thought it would be published. It is to be read for a circle of friends, a small circle... and he did it in a very systematic way, with his tiny handwriting and virtually no cross-outs - which is quite an achievement, but that's how my dad was. I wanted something else of his to be left behind other than musicology books or music studies.
I'm glad that you also mentioned your mother, AnieBentoiu - writer and translator,who also wrote the book TheTime We Were Given. So, we can also find her in the living through history through appendices. Can you tell us what it is about?
They lived through a tragic historical period in which so many things happened. They were very young when everything collapsed around them. They met when they weren't even 20 years old, in law school, after which I heard them talk about history, political events, books and so on all their lives. So, there are big differences between my mother's book, which is thought of as a book, which is very long, which required a lot of research in libraries, comparing this text with historians who spoke about the book and with whom my mother was able to clarify certain areas... while my father's letters are spontaneous, they are written from memory, but they demonstrate his capacity for analysis and synthesis. These little appendices are just a few texts that are only 2-3 pages long.
I gave it the title, "Living through history" It's a history book, autobiographical. It's a text that many young people should know - young and not so young - because, indeed, it summarizes the history of Romania from about the 1930s (my father was born in 1927, so from his childhood) until after the events of 1989, until around the 2000s. The last letter is from 2004. He started from 1994 to 2004 to paint me somewhat of a general picture. It reads like a mystery novel.
We invite listeners to the book launch on Thursday evening at the HumanitasCișmigiu Bookshop, but especially to purchase "Living through history. Letters to Ioana"either in bookshops or online. I wouldn't want to end this interview without asking you if you have any new editorial releases planned?
I have several things planned. For one, my father's two books on musicology, which are Image and meaning and Musical Thinking; they will soon be republished by the Eikon publishing house. And I'm very pleased because they've been out of print for a long time. I myself write about a lot of people I knew thanks to my parents, and I think when it comes out will also be a sort of addition to both my mother's and father's books, without making any particular high claims of myself, but it might be interesting too.
Translated by Raluca Ioana Crucerescu,
University of Bucharest, Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures, MTTLC, year I
Corrected by Silvia Petrescu