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23 January 2024 - 23 January 2024

5:30PM - 6:30PM

The Chapel, Hatfield College

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IAS Fellows' Public Lecture by Professor Valentina Sandu-Dediu (New Europe College, Bucharest)

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Image courtesy of Isaac Ibbott on Unsplash


Emerging from the almost seamless isolation imposed by Nicolae Ceausescu's repressive regime, Romania tried to make its voice heard in the world after 1990. More than three decades later, many artists still complain of a certain marginalisation. Professor Valentina Sandu-Dediu will try to discuss such issues from the examples she is most familiar with – those in the field of academic music. The title of a new music festival, Wien Modern in 1998 – An den Rändern Europas –, where Romanian music was also portrayed, shows quite clearly that Western eyes were still looking at a marginal Romania. The concept of margin was extensively debated in the programme of the festival, in public discussions, in such a way that we Romanians present,  had no doubt that we were still perceived as provincials, and somehow encouraged to exploit our own exotisms (folklore, Byzantine music, etc.). In Europe, there was a strong interest (during the Iron Curtain separation and after its disappearance) in Russian and Soviet music, and traditional links were maintained with Polish (the Warsaw Autumn festival, for example) or Hungarian institutions. Romania was left to consolidate its cultural position in the Balkan context. And so, many of us have developed the same "strong love-hate, fascination-repulsion complex" for the Balkans, as the writer Mircea Cărtărescu says. In the programm-catalogue of the Wien Modern festival, composer Ștefan Niculescu challenges fellow Westerners to ask themselves why the Romanian composer is determined to feel like a second-class European. Nor does he, like Mircea Cărtărescu, want to be labelled an Eastern European (or Balkan) author. So far, the situation has changed for Cărtărescu (translated into countless languages all over the world and a Nobel Prize aspirant), for some soprano and visual artist, much more visible today and in free competition in the world; not for Ștefan Niculescu or any other contemporary Romanian composer. She cannot offer explanations, but Professor Sandu-Dediu can outline a political, ideological and aesthetic landscape of Romanian composition in the 20th century, which can at least partially explain such situations.


This lecture is free and open to all. Registration is not required to attend in person.