Pianist Adriana Toacsen about Ludmila Popișteanu’s apartment
How was the apartment in the famous ARO-Patria building organised?
Well, first of all, it was located on the third floor, if I remember correctly – I usually took the stairs, not to go up, but down, because after the lessons I always had a lot to think about! The entrance was through a small hallway opening into a salon. It was a spacious enough room to accommodate two pianos, which was rather a sight then! There was something similar at the house of my high school piano teacher, Mrs Ada Ulubeanu, but she had a piano and an upright piano, whereas Mrs Popișteanu had two grand pianos. The salon, which led to the other rooms – kitchen, bedrooms –, was a beautiful, welcoming space. Mrs Popișteanu typically placed herself by us, but when she wanted to hear better or to involve herself less into our playing and thus make us independent, she sat on a couch. The room was packed with chairs and had beautiful, ancient furniture. I don’t really remember how it was, to make music on two pianos, I was only her student somewhere up to my fourteenth birthday, when Mrs Popișteanu sadly passed away. I do recall that both pianos were played, I have this image in my head, of me playing on one of them, of her students playing through the entire program before some musical event or other. Such a welcoming salon was indeed a nice place for us to gather and do this, it was like a recital!
What was the ambiance of that apartment?
It was warm, it was bright. In fact, we leave the mark of our personality on our homes. Mrs Popișteanu was an extremely calm and warm person, but exacting, too, with regard to almost everything – our deeds, our behaviour, our manners, the organisation our time, of our life. I remember we discussed about how much, when, and how we practice, about what we listened to. I also recall her CD library and the discussion we once had about how we should listen to music more. I was still quite young, in the fifth grade, I think, but I’ll never forget that conversation. She asked me what renditions of a certain piece I had listened to. And I couldn’t give her too many names, there hadn’t been that many performers on the LPs I had back home, and they dated back before I was born. Mrs Popișteanu lectured me – it was an elegant lecture, but I still felt terribly ashamed when I realised how low my prospect of expanding my horizon were, how I lacked access to any contemporary performer – there was no YouTube back then (and to think that today we have this great tool at hand!). To resume, she imposed us a certain level of requirement.
What kind of music did Mrs Popișteanu listen to?
I wasn’t there when she played her CDs for the students, I don’t really know if she did this at all. Judging by what I saw in her musical library, I would say she used the many occasions she had to leave the country to expand her collection, as she was frequently enough invited in the jury of competitions abroad. Also, there must have been friends or students who brought her records. In any case she seemed quite up to date with the musical phenomenon worldwide.
You mentioned earlier those recital-like musical gatherings…
At the point when I became her student, Mrs Popișteanu was no longer teaching at the music high school, we were sent to her privately on the recommendation of our teachers at school. I remember she never watched the time, so sometimes we would overlap, which was great, because you could learn a lot by listening to the others and by seeing what and how she worked with them. I recall many names – Marta Cernea, Toma Popovici, Irina Macarie, Karina Șabac, Răzvan Dragnea… There were many of my colleagues there, I hope they will forgive me for forgetting a name or two – it happened so many years ago, but I cherish these memories indeed.
Interview by Petre Fugaciu