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One year without maestro Dan Mizrahi

Thursday, 28 April 2011 , ora 13.35

‘I have worked hard to learn music; to understand music and its principles, and to actually teach it, with love, with commitment, with hard work, and, of course, with passion. I have to admit that through my accomplishments as an artist, as a teacher and as a composer I have helped other people, who have been inspired by my performances, my pedagogical advice or my works, to gain success in music. But for me their success has been ten times more important and has increased the fulfilment that Music has so generously provided me with.’

These were the conclusions of the much-missed pianist Dan Mizrahi, put between the pages of what could be called ‘a biographical novel’ – the book Așa a fost (This is how it happened), published by the Hasefer Publishing House together with Liliana Pavelescu in 2005. The book was the subject of a warm and friendly meeting that took place at the headquarters of the Federation of the Jewish Communities in Bucharest to commemorate one year since pianist, composer and teacher Dan Mizrahi passed away.

‘The year that went by marked not an absence but a presence’...

… because ‘we all keep the memory of Dan Mizrahi alive, but each of us in a different way’, PhD. Professor Grigore Constantinescu, one of the speakers, said in his speech. Indeed, we remember maestro Mizrahi as an unmatched performer of works written by Gershwin, Bach, Mozart or Beethoven, other people remember him as a companion in the communist prisons or as a mentor, as a dear friend or as a composer for whom the melody was the core of the creation, as a winner of the ‘Crizantema de aur’ Competition (The Golden Chrysanthemum Competition) or simply as the talented author of several essays, articles and courses.

The much-missed Dan Mizrahi was described as such by Aurel Vainer, President of the Federation of the Jewish Communities and Parliament deputy, by Ștefan Iureș, director of the Hasefer Publishing House, by Iancu Țucărman, Holocaust survivor, by PhD. Professor Grigore Constantinescu, by actor Adrian Păduraru. The excerpts from the book Așa a fost were read by Ilinca Goia, an actress of the National Theatre. Usually, the speeches at such events are too lengthy, and, therefore, everybody appreciated that all speakers expressed only main ideas, without boring the audience and managing to put together through their speeches the complex picture not only of Dan Mizrahi, the musician, but also of Dan Mizrahi, the man.

No music = no life

It goes without saying that such a meeting held in the memory of the man for whom ‘being deprived of music’ meant, as he used to say, ‘being deprived of the liberty to live’ would not have made much sense without listening to the maestro’s works and recordings. Soprano Mariana Colpoș and tenor Florin Diaconescu were joined by several members of the ‘George Enescu’ Philharmonic Choir to perform lieds and ballads, accompanied by pianist Despina Carabella Oproiu.

The interview Gabriela Popescu conducted with maestro Mizrahi for TVR Cultural was broadcast together with the recording of Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin, one of the artistic trademarks of the pianist who, for the first time, performed the works of the American composer in Romania. The playing of the recording of two ballads composed by Dan Mizrahi and performed by his wife, soprano Cecilia Mizrahi, came as a pleasant surprise.

The event was neatly organised by the distinguished wife of the musician, Cecilia Mizrahi, by the Jewish Communities in Bucharest and by the Federation of the Jewish Communities of Romania, and the warm, friendly and relaxed atmosphere would have probably pleased the maestro who once reached the conclusion, which we all share, that ‘life is a long line of painful departures’.

Monica Isăcescu
Translated by Raluca Mizdrea and Elena Daniela Radu
MTTLC, Bucharest University