This is my story.


     I was born in Romania, in the infamous city of Craiova, in a family of non-musicians (how strange is that). Both parents are doctors but more than that, they are exceptional human beings that love art, especially classical music; and that’s how I got to be in contact with the marvelous universe of Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Tchaikovsky and Chopin from a very early age. My first musical wish was to play violin, but that turned to be a forever unfulfilled dream because I was very fast detoured to the piano, another toy that happened to be a good friend from the early start. So, I started piano lessons at the age of four, being half in love with the instrument and half with my very first piano teacher.

     First “huge” highlight of my early “career” was winning first prize at some very low profile competition in some industrial city in the South of Romania; this prize made me believe that I am the best pianist in the world. The ecstasy didn’t last too much, because short after the first success I won third prize at some other piano competition, making me feel absolutely worthless… this is how my competition experience started, a very controversial chapter of my musical life, which I will develop later on.

    Back in the day, in the Communists’ time, people couldn’t leave the country seeking a better life – that meant that professional and highly educated individuals had no alternative but to stay in Romania and make their way here. In my home town, Craiova, such character was impersonated by Mariana Ilie, a distinguished lady that was the powerhouse of the piano class and that showed us a professional path towards performance. Because of her I had a good and healthy start in playing the piano.

     One of the most important encounters I had in my life was meeting Walter Krafft, a personality that had a huge impact on me both as a musician and as a human. For most of you, his name is rather obscure, but he was the type of mentor that you could find in the books of Ancient Greece. Walter Krafft was the kind of mentor that wanted to give you everything he knows, but he was a “tough cookie”, he didn’t like compromise and his empathy was quite limited, to say the least. The result is that he challenged me to learn a lot of repertoire very fast, rethinking the technical aspects and, most importantly, he pushed me on stage.

    When I was about 14 years old, I began my international career, touring mostly in Germany, Italy and Austria. The peek of these tiny tours were the concerts in Gasteig – München, the house of the Philharmonic Orchestra of the city. Here I played several programs that included both solo recitals and chamber music.

      Another place worth mentioning is the famous Teatro Bibiena from Mantova, a wonderful venue that I had the privilege to fill with sound. The following years brought me to some important musical centers such as Wien, Dresden, Budapest, Moscow, Paris, Helsinki etc. From the festivals I have attended the following years, I would highlight Encuentro Santander Festival (Spain) and the Fontainebleau Festival (France). I think here is the right moment to mention the people I had great pleasure to share the stage with or being taught by: Serghei Lomovsky (second violin of Borodin Quartet), Ludmila Kruskhova, Pascal Gallois, Robert Levin, Alexandru Tomescu, Mihai Ungureanu, Martin Hughes, Denis Pascal, Paavali Jumppanen, Mirabela Dina, Richard Gode, Antti Siirala, Galina Eguizarova, Marta Gulyas, Imai Nobuko, Felix Renggli, Mihaela Martin, Bjorn Lehmann, Axel Bauni, Krysztof Jablonski, Jean-Jaques Kantorov, Hui-Ying Tawaststjerna, Julia Mustonen, Thomas Hecht

     My educational trip continued with studies in Cluj-Napoca, at Gh. Dima National Music Academy, starting 2010. The Transylvanian city of Cluj-Napoca offered me the chance to study with one of the leading pianists of the country, Csiky Boldizsár – whose style of playing had a great influence on my own playing. Cluj gave me the opportunity to meet a variety of people that shaped my personality during those years. I have studied three years in Cluj; last year of the Bachelor I found myself as an Erasmus student in a rather different universe, in Helsinki, studying at Sibelius Academy.

     Finland thought me a lot, my respect for that nation is immense! I lived there five years, until 2018, when I finished my masters in music at the academy. Here I had the great opportunity to study with Professor Eric T. Tawaststjerna, a noble musician that carried something of the golden age of piano playing. I learned so much from him, especially about musical taste.

     In parallel with self criticism, observing the surrounding world led me to the conclusion that value is not the only parameter in standing your ground as an artist and as a public figure. It is very much about politics and representation. In this matter, Finland does an absolutely brilliant job! I will explain why and then I will explain why I explained. Finland has a population of about 5.5 million people, I would say a rather small one. Just check all the major concert halls programs, and you will find for sure one or more Finish conductors leading the greatest orchestras. How do they do it? The answer is simple, just being smart and united, managing to give a huge amount of support to their best musicians, and propelling them everywhere outside of the country, having in return the best representation of their nation. Win-win! Romania has more than three times the population of Finland and since the death of Sergiu Celibidache, 30 years ago, we had only one or two conductors achieving high level international career (and that’s because they started everything from abroad). Why? The answer is simple, because even though Romania has a lot of talent, we are extremely divided.

     The reason I am presenting these apparently random facts is because these elements completely changed my view about how things work or how a musical society should work. Being good or very good is not enough. In today’s world much more is needed, otherwise great musicians can find themselves playing alone in their tiny living rooms. So, apart from daily musical lessons I had in the far Nordic country, I had a major life lesson

     Coming back to music, I have to mention other two very important encounters I had in Helsinki: Paavali Jumpanen – one of Finland’s leading pianists and Denis Pascal – a marvelous pianist and professor. While from the first one I got the inspiration to be very brave in tackling the vast repertoire, Pascal made me change my entire technique of producing sound.

     The years spent in Finland were also the years in which I managed to fail my only few attempts in piano competitions. I am wondering if I failed because I hate competitions or if I hate competitions because I failed. I participated in three international competitions, in two occasions I managed to reach semifinals, Ciurlionis Competition in Lithuania and The Nordic Competition in Sweden. This kind of experience made me choose the hard path of building a career, the only “weapon” at my disposal being my musical and pianistic level (a very dangerous choice).

     In 2018, I made my last big change, moving back to my homeland, adding to my studies a PhD in music. Aspiring to implement some of the things I learned from my experiences, I tried to apply some recipes that I have seen throughout my “exile” years. One of the great things that Romania offered and offers me is the chance to play with orchestras. At age of 16, I made my debut with an orchestra as a soloist and a new chapter of repertoire and experiences had opened. Since then, I managed to play around 40 times with various orchestras, mostly Romanian but also Bulgarian and Finnish orchestras, playing around 15 Piano Concertos. Among these, I managed to complete two entire cycles, Beethoven piano concertos, including the Triple Concert and Choral Phantasy (at the time I am writing this, the 4th piano concerto is still unplayed, being canceled twice); the second completed cycle is Tchaikovsky’s three Piano Concertos. I have been lucky enough to have played with many great Romanian conductors which I will not name because I will upset the others… (Cristian Mandeal, Horia Andreescu, Tiberiu Soare, Petre Sbârcea, Ilarion Ionescu Galați etc.), but also great young foreign conductors.

     Coming back to my risky decision of returning to Cluj in 2018, I still think it’s the right decision, but the enthusiasm decreased to a certain degree in the last two years. I feel very rewarded being able to teach in a professional Academy, a job that I took right from my beginning of my Phd studies and that I am deeply fond of. More than that, I found such valuable individuals, both musicians and non musicians from whom I can learn and develop further. I had great activity in 2018 and 2019, especially pre-pandemic, and I loved returning to the public in 2021.

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I hope, in the coming months, years and maybe even decades, to be able to always bring something authentic and beautiful to the audience. Being in constant search for a better way of expressing and being, this journey will change me each time I will be in front of you - hopefully in a better pianist, musician and human.

Hear me play

F. Chopin - Balada nr. 1, în sol minor, op. 23

Liszt- ,,Le rossignol"

S.Prokofiev Etude in D minor, Op. 2 No. 1

Tchaikovsky - Piano Concerto No. 1




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