Horațiu Rădulescu

Horațiu Rădulescu (1942–2008) was a Romanian-born composer and a central figure in the “Romanian spectralist” school of composition. He studied at the Bucharest Academy of Music with many of the leading figures of the early Romanian avant-garde, including Ştefan Niculescu, Tiberiu Olah and Aurel Stroe, before he relocated to Paris in 1969 becoming a citizen in 1974. It was in Paris that Rădulescu began to develop his new vision of spectral music, inspired both by the works of Karlheinz Stockhausen and György Ligeti, and a ground-up re-imagining of the nature of sound itself, all of which culminated in the publication of his treatise “Sound Plasma: Music of the Future Sign”.

So-called plasmatic sound, as described by Rădulescu, results from the interaction of complex tones in a constant state of flux. It is in some respects linked to the aims of composers working with just intonation, microtonality, and the French school of spectralism, in that both the use of the harmonic series and the use of traditional resources to create new timbres are of central importance. Yet Radulescu’s vision is much broader, incorporating elements of noise and the imitation of natural sonic phenomena, and is marked by a constant instability. To Radulescu, all of these elements were crucial to achieve a “magic state of the soul”, to come face to face with the eternal, to “create nature”. The mystical, ritualistic, almost religious aspect of his music is what most sets Radulescu’s work apart from that of the French spectralists, whose work he regarded as somewhat sterile or clinical in its scientific approach to analysis and synthesis of timbre.

Much of Rădulescu’s music was also extremely utopic in the resources it called for: “Byzantine Prayer” requires 40 flautists playing 72 flutes, “Wild Incantesimo” 9 orchestras (and 2 hours in duration), and the famous 4th string quartet “infinite to be cannot be infinite, infinite anti-be could be infinite” is written for 9 separate string quartets coming together to form an imaginary 128 string viola da gamba. “Capricorn’s Nostalgic Crickets”, to be played at MaerzMusik 2018, itself began life as part of a larger ritual-piece called “Fountains of my Sky”, which added 42 children (speaking 42 languages) and an ancient pipe organ to the seven clarinet players.

As of February 2018

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