Dr. MAYA BADIAN COMPOSER’S INSIGHTS


I am now in Vancouver for the first time.
I heard and read many beautiful things about Vancouver. I am connected with this city by
many powerful recollections on both, personal and professional levels. The most impressive,
and, meanwhile, the most tragic memory of my life, connects me to Vancouver: When I
helplessly sat by my son Mircea Badian, in a hospital room in Montreal, he would end
his life at not even 21 years of age. Coincidentally, on that very same evening, Mircea, who was
a very gifted percussionist of artistic recognition, was scheduled to perform the world premiere
of my composition Concerto for marimba, vibraphone and orchestra, here, in Vancouver, on March
7, 1989. My Concerto was performed by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, with Montreal
percussionist Marie-Josée Simard as a soloist, and conducted by Maestro Jahja Ling.
This Concerto was, for me, a test stone, on multiple levels: It was the first Concerto
for marimba, vibraphone and orchestra in the Romanian musical literature. I composed it
in 1986, a few months before my family and I prepared our emigration from Romania to
Canada. I wrote this Concerto following the last wish of my son Mircea Badian, who was
a brilliant percussionist. He wanted to have a composition for the two instruments solo
dedicated to him, and which he would perform in the world premiere, as a soloist. However,
it was not possible for my son Mircea to perform neither the world premiere, nor another performance
of this Concerto, because exactly during that very evening, on March 7, 1989, I assisted,
powerlessly, at the passing away of my son. I do not think that one can express neither
in music nor in words what exactly a mother can feel in these moments. I posthumously
dedicated to my son Mircea this Concerto for marimba, vibraphone and orchestra.
In 1986, when I started to put on paper the first movement of this Concerto, Mircea asked
me to perform it on piano, to show him the score – as he wanted to see it – wishing so
very much him to perform it. When he saw that I wrote the beginning of the Concerto in C
major, he asked me, “Why C major?” “For me, C major always inspires the white colour.”
And, he suggested me, “It would be much better if instead of C major you would write
this composition in a minor mode.” Never and not even now could I understand if this
was a premonition of the so tragic end of his life, after such a cruel illness as the
liver cancer is, after eight months of extreme suffering. Before he left this world, Mircea
asked me to “remain the same as he knew me: a tonic for the others, plenty of life
and, always, passionate and dedicated to my career, which distinguishes me from other
people.” Composition is my wonderful career that I
embrace and I would choose the same career, should I start my life over again.
Here is another recollection: In 1999, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra announced The
1999 Canadian Composers Competition. It was a competition for a contemporary music composition.
My Concerto for piano and orchestra was awarded second prize; there participated 87 candidates.
“Composing music” is my supreme religion. “Art” is my life until my last breath.
Spiritual Creation alludes to a reality beyond our material world and spirituality exists
within us; it allows us to discover the essence of our own human beings. It often is a source
of inspiration and it is an experience that exists above our real world. From the multitude
of factors that give sense and scope to our lives, the expression of artistic creativity
and the respect of the spiritual beliefs are, I think, linked in a positive sense to the
discovering of some unusual events. The same as for others, my spiritual beliefs are mirrors
of life, which I absorb since my childhood. I am sure that this identification with my
own spiritual convictions will exist along my entire life. It is our Creation that persists
and rises above all, remaining eternal in time and space. I would like to introduce myself: I am Maya
Badian, I am a composer of symphony music, chamber music, multimedia, and everything
what music encompasses, but the opera genre. I was born in Bucharest, Romania; there, I
very thoroughly studied music, and I was admitted at the Conservatory Ciprian Porumbescu, Composition
Section, in Bucharest. I was 17 years old, the only girl, and the youngest student there.
After graduating from the Conservatory, I was accepted as a member of the Union of Composers
and Musicologists of Romania. Having achieved a very high grade at the Conservatory, I immediately
was hired as a music director at the Romanian Radio Television in Bucharest. In 1972, I
started to teach, as a professor, at the High School of Music George Enescu in Bucharest.
It was in 1986 when we decided to leave Romania for Canada for family reasons, as many members
of our family were already established in Montreal. We filed the documents and deposited
the required papers. As a composer, I had to legally and officially take my own compositions
out from Romania. As such, the best way was, for me, to send them to my sister Diana in
Montreal, because, at one’s definitive departure from Romania, he/she was allowed to take with
him/her only two luggages per person, totalizing a maximum of 60 kg. It was impossible for
me to fit in the two allowed luggage all of my own compositions.
In addition, at that time, under Ceausescu regime, to get out from Romania books, music
scores, and other items alike, one needed to have the approval of the Romanian National
Cultural Heritage. It was only one day per week, Tuesday, between 8 am and noon, when
a person could stay in long lines, request, and wait to have the approval and stamped
documents to certify that he/she has the right to take them out from Romania. In my case,
the rule applied to my music scores of my own compositions. I waited in line, from 5:00
a.m., for my turn to have all this procedure done. Many people were already there. If we
lost our turn on Tuesday, it meant that we, actually, lost one week. And we had the right
to submit only 5 kg per week; the scores being papers, were heavy enough. Before receiving
the visa in order to leave Romania for Canada, we had at our disposal a few months only.
I realized, that – actually – it was impossible to take with us or even to send Diana all
of my scores before leaving Romania. As such, I have chosen to make a selection that would
include my symphonic music, concert music, and some chamber music scores. For those,
we managed to make the entire procedure – stamping, paying the taxes, and all the rest, – so that
my scores arrive in Canada, at my sister’s, and I would have them at my arrival there,
where I decided to continue my life and work. In August 1987, before leaving Romania, I
noticed that I still had two luggage-sets full of scores. I also noticed that I would
not have enough time for the scores to be stamped by the Romanian National Cultural
Heritage. This fact meant that more than a half of the works that I composed by then,
including all of my piano and chamber music works, and some symphonic and concert music
compositions, cannot leave Romania; I went through a moment of crisis, during which I
decided to tear and destroy all those scores composed by myself. Myself dropped these scores
into the garbage, because I did not want to leave them to absolutely anybody; and this
was one of my most terrible moments in my life, when I became aware that my life’s
work was destined to simply perish, in this political context. My family, my son, my husband
and my parents did not know how to stop me from this despair and I asked them to let
me take my mission to the end. I think that this was one of my most terrible moments in
my life. I arrived in Canada without these scores,
however, with the other ones that I managed to send to my sister Diana. She, together
with her family led me everywhere I had to go; for instance, at the Canadian Music Centre
in Montreal. There, I have met my new colleagues, and I had the chance to be introduced to the
Canadian composers and their music. Diana, her husband Adrian and son Dan surrounded
me with so much understanding and love, although they also told me that I had a career that
is very little sought after in Canada and anywhere. It was better if I were a doctor,
an engineer, or a computer expert. However, I have had tremendous confidence in my passion
and dedication to Composition and, also, in my determination to continue; so, I told my
sister and her husband that if emigration to Canada is to give up music, then I better
would return there, where I came from. As regarding my studies in music, as I previously
mentioned, I obtained a Master’s degree in Composition; I was the third in country.
Arriving in Canada, after the supreme tragedy a mother can survive – the death of her son
-, I was admitted to follow the doctorate at the Université de Montréal. In 1990,
I started the doctoral studies, under the guidance of composer André Prévost. And,
I managed to be – and, so far, I still remain the only case in the history of the Université
de Montréal – who accomplished a doctorate achieving A+ at all the subject matters, with
the Diploma – in the impressive period of only two years. In 1992, on May 5, I obtained
the title of Doctor of Music, Composition. Meanwhile, I became an associate member of
the Canadian Music Centre / Centre de musique canadienne in Montréal; I also wanted to
know as much as possible about the creations of my Canadian composer-colleagues, in order
to better find out about myself, where can I be placed, where do I fit as a composer
within this new world for me. Moreover, I daily visited the Canadian Music Centre, to
make thorough research on the works of my new composer-colleagues. When listening to
their works, my memories always returned back to the composers in Romania, certainly to
my professors of composition – maîtres Tiberiu Olah, Dan Constantinescu; I also had the wonderful
chance to be accepted at the private classes of Mihail Andricu. Also, under the guidance
of Aurel Stroe, I studied instrumentation and orchestration. I tried to establish similitudes
between the Canadian music and the music in my homeland, Romania; and, thus, I could realize
where is my place in this tumult, in this colourful Canadian musical life.
However, as I managed to know so many Canadian composers and so many of their works, I was
many times invited in Germany, in Moldova, in Romania, in Hungary, and in the United
States, to give lectures about the Canadian Contemporary Music, that I did. The Canadian
Music Centre provided the scores and CDs for me, that I could have with me and promote
outside Canada. I also donated many of these scores and CDs to the libraries and universities
where I was invited to give lectures. Moreover is that, I wanted to write about these composers.
Firstly, I wrote a booklet, titled: “55 Canadian Composers”; then, I wrote another
booklet, titled: “20 Quebec Composers and 20 Quebec Painters”. In this book, I formulated
similitudes between the painting techniques and the music writing techniques in their
artistic creations. And, when I noticed that there was such an enthusiastic interest for
the Canadian music – which was a bit superficially known outside Canada – then, I decided to
write another booklet, titled: “100 Canadian Composers From Sea To Sea”. Even nowadays,
my booklet is used as a reference book in many universities, here, and outside Canada:
for example, for Germany, my book was translated in German language. When I am invited to give
interviews that would be broadcast, I never forget: To the contrary, I very proudly speak
about the Romanian music, from George Enescu to the youngest generation of Romanian composers.
In addition to promoting the Romanian music on radio waves or through my lectures, my
husband Lucian Badian founded the LUCIAN BADIAN EDITIONS publishing house in 1993, firstly,
to promote my own original music. I wrote more than 120 major works and my husband wanted
to assist me in this regard, promoting my music. He thought that if it will be published,
my music will be much better known. When we were up-to-date with my music, we
decided to publish the music of other composers as well. And, we published many composers
from Romania, Moldova, Poland, Hungary, as well as from Canada. As such, right now, if
one would make a research on the website, this person can see that Library and Archives
Canada host about 400 publications of the LUCIAN BADIAN EDITIONS, including the scores
parts. I would like now to shortly speak about what
does it actually mean to attend a traditional music versus a contemporary music concert.
As a contemporary concert music composer – and I think that, probably, other artists feel
in a same way – if somebody goes to a performance, for instance to a concert where a music by
Mozart is performed, that person knows what to expect for. Moreover, this person knows
what to listen to, he knows what musical event will follow and he also knows how the music
will sound, indifferently if this person already listened to Mozart’s music or not; the music
that he will listen at the concert, or not. This person knows that he will not expect
to have an “auditive choc”. This is not the case for the contemporary compositions.
In the case of contemporary music, the concertgoers do not know what exactly to expect and, as
such, many times they have auditive, emotional, or psychical surprises. For some, in this
case, it is much simpler: they choose to say that they are not interested in contemporary
music. My belief is that we can find everything in
life and in beauty. Everything can encompass beautiful aspects as well as aspects that
do not resonate or are, even, dissonant for one’s inner perception. However, we live
in the 21st century. I think that it is worth doing this effort: to go to contemporary music
concerts and to understand contemporary music; to understand that contemporary composers
are as well human beings, as we are, as all of you are, and everything that is reflected
in their music are facts that we live within our society.
For me, Composition is a superb relation between the emotional and the rational. These two
aspects of the music are very important; and, music is both – profession and miracle.
Many people ask me what is that distinguish me from others, maybe even from other composers.
Besides my passion and total dedication, plus the fact that I never give up creating, I
think that it is very important the fact that, since I was about three years of age, I noticed
that, in my case, all of the events metamorphosed into an inner music that was mine! This is
what Composing or Composition means for me – that, for a composer, everything metamorphoses
into the art of sounds. At that time, I thought that everybody heard in the same way, such
as we feel the same smell, we see the same colour. However, I realized that this was
not exactly so. I asked my parents for a piano teacher as a gift for my 5th birthday, who
can teach me how to play on the piano the music that
I heard into my inner. The piano was in our living room, and this instrument caught more
and more, my attention to the point that it replaced my toys. My piano teacher noticed
that I was blessed with an absolute, perfect pitch, meaning that I did not need a piano
to recognize the specific sounds that I heard into my mind. All of these signals led me
towards a sublime profession and miracle. In music, I do not start with the notation
on the musical staves of the sonorous sensation to discover its potential, its meanings. To
the contrary, I first search to feel the deep emotions, born on an abstract level of the
philosophic contemplation, or even musical, which would generate the Creation.
I think, that my sounding inner world is a form of introspection, and not one of fusion
with the great universe; not even with the outside world. From the confuse vision of
the “sounding dream”, from the first “lightening” that makes to appear the sounding image, to
the distinction of the compositional details, I complete my composition, in a way, before
writing it on paper. I first finalize my work in my mind as much as I am able to, keeping
the strictly necessary ideas to respect the balance between emotion and structure; between
sense and form. My perfect pitch is of much help within the creative process; then, the
knowledge of the music theory structure, the harmony, the counterpoint, the instrumentation,
the composition form and analysis plus so many other necessary aspects as many as actions
without defined limits. I think
that important is to have a vision, to
be authentic, and to trust in your vision and in yourself.
I think that the artist is the person without Sundays and who never is bored. In this regard, I refer
that our art is eternal in time and space. ART is everlasting even when we no longer exist neither as artists nor as persons. I am convinced that my music and the art of all artists will persist over
Time and Space, even when we will no longer be on this earth. 1