Răzvan Apetrei is one of Romania’s most talented emerging conductors and one of the few who have turned their interest to the scenic musical genres – opera and ballet.
His passion for these genres was most likely determined by the fact that he was born into a family of actors from a very young age in contact with dramatic art.
Sometimes I spent whole days in the theatre, and I was doing my homework in the theatre hall while the actors were rehearsing. I went on all the tours across the country and knew all the plays by heart, backwards and forwards. It was a beautiful period of my childhood.
He was born in 1988 in Bacău, a town in the North-East of Romania. His studies and musical career began as a pianist, attending at age of 7 the hometown art high school and, 12 years later, the Bucharest National University of Music courses. However, at 23 he decided to become a conductor, a passion he has pursued since childhood.
As a teenager, I realized that the expressive possibilities of the piano could not exceed a certain limit. At the same time, the orchestra became an increasingly seductive desideratum for what I wanted to express through music.
However, courage was needed. After 16 years in which music was revealed to me almost exclusively through the 88 white and black keys, it is not easy to throw myself into the unknown and start from scratch.
A great factor in his musical development was the influence of his conducting teacher, maestro Dumitru Goia, a fan of opera music, who trained at the prestigious conservatory in St. Petersburg.
Dumitru Goia is by far the best-conducting teacher in Romania and one of the best Romanian conductors ever.
An interesting detail shared by my conducting teacher fascinates me and makes me equally responsible. If I were to create a family tree based not on kinship, but on the connections between masters and disciples, the result would be an extremely interesting and flattering.
Dumitru Goia’s conducting teachers in St. Petersburg were Nikolai Simeonovici Rabinovici and Isai Ezrovici Șerman, both disciples of Nikolai Andreevici Malko, the founder of the Russian conducting school. Malko founded the Russian conducting school based on the German conducting principles he imported from his teacher, Felix Mottl, an Austrian conductor famous for interpreting and orchestrating the works of Richard Wagner. Mottl’s mentor was Hans Richter, Wagner’s disciple and associate.
So, I am 6 generations away from Wagner and the thought that maybe at least a percentage of the musical and conducting thinking of the great German titan reached me is extremely exciting.
Răzvan Apetrei founded Opera Clandestina, the newest and youngest independent opera and ballet company in Romania and guest conductor of The Comic Opera for Children in Bucharest, Romania.
So far, he has collaborated with Romanian philharmonic orchestras such as the Philharmonic Orchestra of Brașov, the Philharmonic Orchestra of Pitești, the Mihail Jora Philharmonic Orchestra of Bacău, the Ion Dumitrescu Philharmonic Orchestra of Râmnicu Vâlcea, the Symphony, Barockeri and Concerto orchestras of the National University of Music in Bucharest, but also with the Academic Orchestra of the Philharmonic Society of Câmpina. At the same time, he also experiments with choir conducting in his appearances with the Romanian Royal Choir and the Juventus Academica Choir.
In 2019 he made his debut at the George Enescu International Festival, conducting the Royal Concert, an event under the auspices of the Royal Family of Romania, in the company of the Romanian Royal Choir and the orchestra of the Opera Clandestina company.
Răzvan Apetrei is a passionate discoverer and promoter of two less-performed composers in Romania, conducting the first Romanian auditions of Henry Purcell’s and Igor Stravinsky’s works such as Purcell’s Funeral sentences Z 860 or My heart is inditing Z 30 and Stravinsky’s Pulcinella Ballet.
However, he is still taking his first steps in the opera and ballet. Up to this moment, he has staged two operas – Dido and Aeneas by Henry Purcell and Bastien und Bastienne by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, as well as other vocal works such as Mozart’s Coronation Mass or Händel’s Coronation Anthems (Zadok the Priest, My heart is Inditing). He has also staged Apollon Musagète Ballet by Igor Stravinsky and conducted the music from Chopiniana by Alexandr Glazunov.
After the experience gained conducting opera and ballet works, I now feel I can conduct anything. Everything in the field of symphonic music seems much simpler to me.
He is the founder of the Royal Camerata and founder and manager of the Romanian Royal Choir, youth chamber ensembles under the High Patronage of His Royal Highness Prince Radu of Romania. Since 2009 he has been a constant collaborator of the Royal House of Romania regarding organising musical events at the Romanian Royal Court.
Since 2017, Răzvan Apetrei has been a university assistant (associate professor) and PhD student at the National University of Arts George Enescu in Iași (Romania), his field of expertise is Stravinsky’s ballet works, but he is also an orchestra and choir professor at the George Enescu National High school of Music, Iosif Sava Gymnasium School of Art and No. 3 Gymnasium School of Art, all in Bucharest (Romania).
Romania needs a rapid improvement in what orchestral music education provides, starting with the first years of study and continuing with the young musicians on the faculty benches. If no action is taken quickly, the level of orchestras in Romania will drop dramatically. This is why I became an orchestra teacher for children aged 10-14. For that, I created an opera company, an orchestra and a choir that exclusively promotes young musicians.
In addition, he is passionate about the phenomenon of music education in Romania and how young musicians pursue a professional career. For eight years he (aici este has worked daca inca continua treaba asta) worked in student and youth organizations, fighting for the rights of the new generation of musicians and often opposed the established generations of musicians.
The Romanian conducting school, strange as it may sound, does not exist. The reasons are many, and I can say with the greatest responsibility and regret that this professional branch is in a deep crisis.
Romania had several peaks in the conducting field, such as Ionel Perlea or Constantin Silvestri, who, however, did not bother to leave disciples and create a national conduct school. Lack of vision? Selfishness? Hard to say.
Instead, Constantin Bugeanu did not have a minimum conducting education or talent for this interpretive branch, but who ventured or stubbornly wanted to lay the foundations of a so-called national conducting school.
There is also the case of Sergiu Celibidache, a conductor who made an international career and produced a fascination among our compatriots, a psychosis I could say. And although he did not bother to lay the foundations of a Romanian conducting school, he left to posterity a series of epigones, self-proclaimed disciples and preachers of his conducting thinking.
The more this problem is ignored, the more urgent it is to find a solution. Otherwise, the conducting profession will be on the verge of extinction in Romania or a paradise of impostors.
He is also a composer, creating works for solo piano or chamber ensembles, as well as theatre and dance music in student productions, but also for professional institutions such as the Bacovia Municipal Theatre from Bacau (Romania), The Little Theatre from Bucharest, Excelsior Theatre from Bucharest and the Bucharest Comedy Theatre, where he appears in a double hypostasis, composer and performer.
I have always been attracted by multiple hypostases of a musician’s life. I started as a pianist, then became a conductor and along the way I was interested in musical composition. I decided to start a career as a teacher and music manager. I often feel that I am directing my attention and concerns in too many directions and that I should prioritize my actions. However, I still believe that the era I was born in often forces me to diversify my activity. As a musician nowadays, I think keeping our horizons as busy as possible is necessary, and time will tell what will be important in the end.
Răzvan Apetrei is still beginning his musical journey, but on the horizon there is the dawn of a beautiful adventure in the world of sounds, an adventure that we believe is worth following in the years to come.