Dinu Lipatti House

12 Lascăr Catargiu Avenue, sector 1, Bucharest

The house at 12 Lascăr Catargiu Avenue became the Lipattis’ home beginning sometime in 1930, when the family moved, as Valentin Lipatti recalls in his memoires, in “the big house [that] Grandfather had bought for Father around 1900. The building, which still stands and is known today as the Lipatti House, was rather strange, a bastard-rococo house, elegant yet disproportionate, as if on its knees, making you think of a broad-chested but short-legged individual, and lacking those noble proportions which some of Bucharest’s old houses still feature”.

In a piece published in Dilema veche in February 2007, architects Mihaela Criticos and Ana Maria Zahariade argue that “the art nouveau aesthetics, with its unmistakable air de Paris, lent Romanian architecture a hedonistic and vaguely decadent imprint”, and classify the house on Lascăr Catargiu Avenue in this category. It was built by Petre Atonescu, “a young architect just landed from Paris” (Valentin Lipatti), which explains why the edifice has little of the neo-Romanian style elements that would later be Petre Antonescu’s trademark.

Ana Lipatti too makes a brief description of their town house: “it was always bathed in light. Dinu’s room was right next to mine, my husband’s a little further off, because he used to play his violin into the night”. The sitting room had a little platform for the piano on which teenage Dinu practiced, wrote music or performed, the brilliant musician frequently organising “chamber concerts” for family members and close family friends, musical evenings with works for “two pianos or piano four hands” (Miron Şoarec).

The house was equipped with a spacious attic which accommodated the Lipattis’ governess, nurse, cook, and driver, while other domestic rooms were located along a long corridor leading to the back door overlooking Visarion Street. Today, nothing is left from that “garden full of flowers and scents of old… Mrs Codrea’s backyard, with its red lilies, is gone too, and it its place General Rădulescu’s multi-storey building was erected before the war” (Valentin Lipatti).

A little less-known fact is that on July 29, 1933 Theodor Lipatti asked permission to construct a 14-storey building on his land at 12 Lascăr Catargiu Avenue. Because it trespassed the height restriction laws, the project was rejected. It needing redoing no less than three times, Lipatti’s father eventually abandoned it, and so it is that we still have the Lipattis’ original house.

With a complicated history, especially beginning 1949, when the nationalization law came into effect, the house on Lascăr Catargiu Avenue is today in greater part owned by businessman Marian Gostin, who bought it from academician Alexandru Graur’s son Dumitru. Rented by the Bucharest City Hall, it is currently the headquarters of the Dinu Lipatti House of Arts.

Irina Vasilescu