Dumitru Georgescu Kiriac

Passionate advocate of traditional Romanian music, Dumitru Georgescu Kiriac was one of the first Bucharest composers to use musical folklore and its specific modalism in vocal art music.

Born on March 6, 1866 in Bucharest, he trained with celebrated composers and teachers Alexandru Podoleanu at Sfântul Sava High School, and Gheorghe Brătianu, Eduard Wachmann and George Ştephănescu at the Conservatory. A student of law at the same time, he went to Paris upon graduation, continuing his musical training with Théodore Dubois and Charles-Marie Widor at the Conservatoire de Paris and with Vincent d’Indy at the Schola Cantorum.

Returning to Bucharest in1900, Dumitru Georgescu Kiriac was appointed professor of music theory and sight singing at the Conservatory, with future brilliant composers Gheorghe Cucu and Ioan D. Chirescu among his students. He had an essential contribution to the development of institutionalized Romanian music education, inspiring his disciples into creating original compositions that would fuse Western counterpoint with local tunes whose archaic modal structure was to be preserved unaltered. Before 1910, when he started collecting musical folklore himself, he worked to harmonize melodies in old collections by Anton Pann, Carol Mikuli and Theodor Burada.

While among his most vocal scores rank the folk-inspired Morarul [The Miller], Cântecul murgului [The Song of the Sorrel Horse], Codrule codruţule [Forest, Dear Forest] and Când aud cucul cântând [Hearing the Cuckoo Sing], Dumitru Georgescu Kiriac was additionally interested in exploiting the resources of Byzantine music, which he used in his own Byzantine Liturgy.

Busy teaching and composing, founding member of the Romanian Composers’ Society, Dimitrie Georgescu Kiriac was also an extremely active conductor. He established, in 1901, the Societatea Corală Carmen [Carmen Choral Society], one of the most important Romanian choral ensembles in the first half of the 20th century. Performing in Bucharest and touring the country, Carmen was, for the almost three decades that he led it, an ardent promoter of Romanian music.

Dimitrie Georgescu Kiriac died on January 8, 1928 in Vienna.