Romanian Music Online












Doru Popovici


(Click here to see List of Songs)


Doru Popovici, born February 17, 1932, in Reşiţa , Romania , is a leading musicologist, and composer of choral music and art song. His childhood study at the Conservatory of Music in Timişoara (1942-1944) piqued his interest in composition. Six years of study (harmony, musical form, and counterpoint) with Liviu Rusu, preceded  Popovici’s enrollment in the former Ciprian Porumbescu Conservatory in Bucharest (now known as the National University of Music). During his university study (1950-1955), Popovici took courses taught by Romanian music luminaries Paul Constantinescu, Marţian Negrea, Zeno Vancea, and Mihail Jora. As was the case with most Romanian composers during the twentieth century, Popovici also studied Romanian folk music. In 1968, together with a group of Romanian composers, Popovici attended the Darmstadt Summer Music Courses for New Music where he studied with György Ligeti.

            As a musicologist, Popovici’s list of publications, public lectures, and radio presentations is prodigious. In addition to his choral pieces and art songs, he has composed several operas, vocal-symphonic works, chamber music, music for film, and orchestral music.


Doru Popovici-Art Songs

            Popovici composed most of his forty-three art songs during his student years in Bucharest . In 1962, Editura Muzicală published a collection of Popovici’s songs. Copies of his unpublished songs may be found in the archives of the Romanian Union of Composers Library.

            Popovici’s songs are characterized by two simultaneous key signatures, unified by several ostinato patterns; and traits inspired by Romanian folk music: frequently changing meters, narrow vocal ranges, single tone recitative; and recitative reminiscent of religious chants. Even his early songs display Popovici’s predilection for bitonality,  atonality and church modes, the latter perhaps an influence of his teacher Paul Constantinescu.

            Poets whose verses Popovici set to song include such prominient Romanian writers as Tudor Arghezi, Lucian Blaga, Ştefan O. Iosif, George Bacovia, Octavian Goga, George Topîrceanu, Mihai Eminescu, and Nicolae Labiş. The moods of Popovici’s songs are laden with themes of longing, wandering in search of one’s homeland, grim scenes drawn from World War I, and unrequited love.  


Doru Popovici-Voice and Chamber Ensemble Works     

Popovici’s solo voice-chamber ensembles span much of his oeuvre. În marea trecere, composed in 1956, a three-movement work scored for tenor, flute, celeste, piano, percussion, and viola, the full ensemble plays only in the final bars of the first movement, “Motto.” As in his songs for voice and piano, the hallmark traits of Popovici’s compositional style are evident.

 In 1977, Popovici composed three songs, two of which are for medium voice, the first for high voice, which he also orchestrated. The music of the unpublished score is reminiscent of Byzantine liturgical music. The following year he composed a work for medium voice and string quartet, Destăinuire, subtitled Antiphon.  In 1979, he completed a work for medium voice and organ, Incantaţie dacice, which he later orchestrated. The work is also scored for oboe solo in lieu of the voice, flute, and trombone. In the orchestrated version, other than a snippet of a capella text at the end of the final movement, the vocal line is a vocalise. His “Asemenea patriei,” Op. 64, a madrigal for soprano, oboe, clarinet, violin, and piano, is another vocal-chamber ensemble work.


Dr. Paula Boire