Interview with conductor Peter Oschanitzky
Mr Peter Oschanitzky, both you and your older brother, pianist and composer Richard Oschanitzky, were born and raised in Timișoara, in an apartment at 44 Gheorghe Doja Street. How do you remember that place?
It was an apartment in a house, and one quite spacious, there were three rooms for living and the additional household rooms. The house itself was inhabited by representatives of all of the town’s ethnic groups: Jews, Hungarians, Romanians, Germans. Two of the rooms were larger, one was the living room and one was the bedroom. We the children used to play in the third one, the smallest. We also had a kitchen, a bathroom and a hall. And a piano, what with us being a family of musicians.
So what was the ambiance there?
Very pleasant! My brother liked to read, to learn, to practice. I was more of a baby, I mean I had fun too, I played with our neighbours, with the other kids. But when I got older, I turned to music myself.
Your brother also lived in Bucharest, at 32 Popa Nan Street. What about that place?
I lived in Bucharest too, between 1971 and 1975, when I was a student at the Ciprian Porumbescu Conservatory, but not with my brother, I lived in a student dorm. I was in touch with him, of course, and I visited him in his rented one-room flat. There was a piano there too! I worked a lot with my brother during that time. He was very busy writing the music for some films, and he naturally asked me to join him in that, so I either helped in the recording studio or co-wrote some of the music.
And the ambiance in that one-room flat?
It was very pleasant! As a proof, Richard lived there for quite some time, he felt good there.
Did he receive other collaborators, musician friends…?
I would say he lived 80% of his life at the famous Berlin Restaurant. That was his “headquarters”, that was where he made some good friends from among the people he worked with on the various films, fellow jazzmen and such, that was where he often composed. There were musicians, yes, but also many from the theatre or film industry – actress Ileana Popovici, director Sergiu Nicolaescu… They were close friends and spent a lot of time together.
When he had urgent work to do, Richard would retire and wouldn’t see anybody. He needed peace and quiet and inspiration, and so he would move to Predeal [a mountain resort town in Romania]. That was his second favourite place to be, to work. He would take a room at a hotel and stay there for a week or two or whatever time he needed to finish composing. He only went to Predeal, where he was well known, to write.