Interviews (4)

‘Wild Ocean’: an interview with Horatiu Radulescu
First published in Contemporary Music Review, 22 nos. 1-2, 2003: 105-122.

In 1979 Olivier Messiaen called Radulescu ‘one of the most original young musicians of our time,’ and the succeeding years have only confirmed his judgement. Born in Bucharest on January 7th 1942, Radulescu left his native Romania in 1969 for Paris, where he began to explore harmonic spectra as musical material and gradually evolved the principles of a new compositional technique in a series of works beginning in 1969 with Credo for nine celli. Based on the idea of audibly projecting the activity and energy of the various partials of a complex sound, the spectral techniques developed by Radulescu (and the somewhat different ‘instrumental synthesis’ approach, also based on spectra, pursued by Grisey, Murail and others from the mid-1970s onward) have taken root, and now seem among the most important exits from the serialist stranglehold on contemporary music. Radulescu regards his spectral techniques as ‘a conceptual reply (two thousand years later) to Pythagoras, and a realization of the intuitions of both Hindu and Byzantine music, which were the closest to natural resonance’.  He has developed these techniques significantly in the decades since.

Liner notes for the sub rosa CD Intimate Rituals

Vincent Royer, viola, with Gérard Caussé, viola, Petra Junken and Horatiu Radulescu, sound icons

Horatiu Radulescu in conversation with Bob Gilmore, Amsterdam, January 2006

BG  Das Andere opus 49 is dedicated “to Patrick Szersnovicz for his Brahmsian soul”, and was a commission of the Gulbenkian Foundation for the La Rochelle Festival 1984. Can you tell me something about the piece?

They discuss other interpretations of the piece: Radulescu remembers “the huge viola of Gerard Caussé so large that the detunings were huge. Maybe he used gut strings?” —Radulescu and Rodrigue debate this for a while— “He had a large viola, perhaps from 1500's. He performed it in 1984 at the festival of La Rochelle in France.” “Rohan [de Saram, former cellist for the Arditti's] played Das Andere for me in a 10 th century church, the Abbazia di Fiastra, near Macerata, Italy, and that was spectacular. When Rohan played my music, he was basing his tunings off of the spectra from a vibration of 1 hertz. That leads to 641 resultant tones! Microtones within microtones...” Rodrigue is the only violinist to have ever played the piece.

Interview in French, by Nathalie Krafft (2001)

This interview, conducted in Radulescu’s apartment on Rue du Lac in Clarens on April 24 2001, is one of the most revealing of his interviews in French. It was first published in Le Monde de la Musique no.255 (June 2001), pp.46-49, and is here reproduced by permission.

Peu jouée en France, la musique d’Horatiu Radulescu est de celles qui s’impriment à jamais dans la tête et le coeur. La Fondation Gulbenkian lui consacre un homage le 30 mai [2001] à Lisbonne. Propos recueillis par N.K.

Les lieux ont du génie. Montreux, sur la rive Suisse du lac Léman, est de ceux-là. Dans ce périmètre magique ont vécu de magnifiques exilés: Igor Stravinsky, qui y a composé Le Sacre du Printemps et Petrouchka, Richard Strauss, Paul Hindemith, Vladimir Nabokov, Charlie Chaplin… C’est là que le compositeur franco-roumain Horatiu Radulescu a posé ses valises il y a quelques années et qu’il nous reçoit. Face à nous, le lac, argent ce jour-là, et les dents du Midi, que Radulescu voit comme
«une mâchoire inférieure dressé vers le ciel». En fond sonore, sa quatrième sonate pour piano, qu’un jeune pianiste travaille avec lui. Un peu plus tard, la musique de Biber accompagnera notre entretien.

LE MONDE DE LA MUSIQUE Revenons à l’origine de l’homme… Quand avez-vous quitté la Roumanie, où vous êtes né le 7 janvier 1942?