Child prodigy, adored by the Royal House of Romania, pianist and teacher Aurelia Cionca (Bucharest, 1888 – Bucharest, 1962) played an important role in Romanian culture in the first half of the 20th century. Training at the Royal Conservatory of Music Leipzig with Franz Liszt pupil Alfred Reisenauer, she performed in Warsaw, Budapest, Bucharest to great acclaim, later teaching, at the Conservatory in Bucharest, such future stars as Dinu Lipatti, Dan Mizrahi and Eugen Ciceu.
Her charming Amintiri [Memoirs], published by the Muzica magazine, let us grasp fresh details of her life in a valuable chronicle documenting almost fifty years of Romanian musical life. At the apogee of her career, the eminent pianist talks about her relationship with members of the Royal House and writes about her travels and recitals abroad and at home – sometimes literally, as Aurelia Cionca often held musical evenings in her house, a superb building in the Cotroceni district and one of a kind in Bucharest due to its distinct shape: “the thought of having a large music salon where I can receive friends and lovers of good music just thrills me”, she wrote in her journal in 1926, a year before the house was finished.
Aurelia Cionca’s account is of particular appeal to all interested in Romanian musical life at the beginning of the last century, as she ran artistic programs both in Bucharest and in cities in Transylvania; additionally, teaching from her youth at the Bucharest Conservatoire, she also offers us precious memories of both her students and her colleagues, esteemed piano teachers Florica Musicescu or Cella Delavrancea.
Author: Larisa Clempuș
Translation: Maria Monica Bojin
Watching the houses and the abundant vegetation in the Cotroceni district playing hide-and-seek we can catch, at intersection of Dr Mihail Mirinescu Street and Carol Davila Street, a glimpse of the Pipoș-Cionca house. Also known in the urban legends as “the piano-shaped house”, due to its plan layout responding to the site, it was designed in the 1920 by architect Victor Ștefănescu for pianist Aurelia Cionca and her husband Horia Pipoș. The house is developed and decorated symmetrically, with rounded corners and a cantilevered-balcony featuring balusters arranged in a circle, the building eventually turning parallel to the streets it looks on to. Clothed in floral, Art Nouveau-inspired motifs stuccowork enclosed by rectangular frames slightly softened at each end, the house displays its multiple edges obtained by means of subtle withdrawals and cantilevers. Ochre-coloured façades are modelled by vertical and horizontal lines allowing light and shadows to draw in their turn shapes on the body of the house. The green of the ivy leaves and the brown of the stems sinuously going up and down cover everything in one last layer of colour.
Pushing the massive wrought iron door and moving in the warm interior, we discover the music salon, with its three pianos undoubtedly the core of the dwelling. The columns and embedded natural stone pilasters providing additional space division, the wooden panelling partially covering the walls, the thriving interior stuccowork and the heavy furniture, all create a distinguished ambiance of a studied elegance. Such a sight lets us easily imagine the past lessons, meetings, concerts, musical evenings, the entire house palpitating with music and joy in the time of Aurelia Cionca.
And if we see and hear music all around here, we cannot, before discreetly walking out and closing the door behind us, but take a last look at the wrought iron fence beaten into music notes and lyres accompanying the footsteps of some passer-by.
Author: Andreea Mihaela Chircă
Translation: Maria Monica Bojin