Dimitrie Cuclin

“I write Dimitrie Cuclin’s name as I would that of Vasile Pârvan, Constantin Brâncuşi, Nicolae Iorga and Lucian Blaga, of any of the savants and creators in whose being our genius bloomed firmly and brilliantly” (Geo Bogza).


Versatile musician and humanist, Dimitrie Cuclin, born March 23, 1885 in Galaţi, was as potent in composition and teaching as he was in philosophy or literature. After training at the Conservatory of Music in Bucharest with Dumitru Georgescu Kiriac (music theory), Alfonso Castaldi (harmony, counterpoint and composition) şi Robert Klenck (violin), he pursued further studies in Paris, at the Conservatoire National, where Charles-Marie Widor taught him composition in 1907, and at the Schola Cantorum, where Vincent d’Indy would profoundly influence his symphonic thinking. Those years were also marked by privileged meetings with George Enescu and Constantin Brâncuşi, with whom he would become close and long-time friends. Back in Romania, Dimitrie Cuclin is appointed teacher, in 1918, of history of music, counterpoint, fugue, musical forms, the aesthetics of music and harmony at the Conservatory. From 1924 to 1930 he taught violin in New York, at the City Conservatory of Music and the Brooklyn College of Music.

Dimitrie Cuclin’s oeuvre is a luxurious tree with branches in all genres, with a priority emphasis on the orchestral area. He wrote 20 symphonies revealing his care for complex thematic developments and for the monumentality of sound edifice in particular – as an example, his tenth symphony has 616 pages, while his twelfth, no less than 1235!

Arrested in 1950 after playing, at the English Legation Library, a record of Bach’s Mass in B minor, he was sent to forced labour on the Danube – Black Sea canal. The rehabilitation will come in 1954-55, when his Symphony no. 9 in C-sharp minor (on Romanian themes) is published, and he, awarded the Work Order, 1st Class.

As a theoretician, Dimitrie Cuclin penned a valuable Tratat de estetică muzicală [Treatise on the Aesthetics of Music], for which he received the Romanian Academy Award in 1993, a great number of studies and monographs, as well as plays, essays, novels, philosophical dialogues, and English translations of poems by Mihai Eminescu.

“All our composers have talent, but only Cuclin has genius”, said George Enescu about the one for whom “music was the life of the entire universe”.  He died on February 7, 1978, aged 93, following complications of cardiovascular disease.

Ioana Marghita