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Thirsting for Music

Tuesday 4 September 2007 20:05-20:25 (Radio 3)

Paul Bailey tells the story of Mihail Sebastian, the Romanian Jewish playwright, novelist and lover of music, a contemporary of the composers in the evening's Prom. His poignant Journal 1935-44 charts the dark days of Romania's anti-Semitic collaboration with the Nazis.

In conversation with those who knew and wrote about him, Bailey explores Sebastian's love of people and world literature, and how he harnessed classical music to overcome the horrors of wartime Romania.


20 minutes

Mihail Sebastian

Mihail Sebastian
 Mihail Sebastian

Norman Manea
Norman Manea (photo Cella Manea)

Nadia Lacoste
Nadia Lacoste

Edward Kanterian (left) and Paul Bailey (right) at Trinity College Oxford

   Edward Kanterian (left) and Paul Bailey (right)
at Trinity College, Oxford



Mihail Sebastian
Paul Bailey
Edward Kanterian
Norman Manea

Music Played:

BACH St Matthew Passion (excerpt from Aria Ich will bei meinem Jesu wachen):
Mark Padmore (tenor), Gabrieli Players, Paul McCreesh (conductor)
ARCHIV 470 2002 (2-CD)

SZYMANOWSKI Mythes Op.30 (excerpt from La Fontaine d'Arethuse):
Ida Haendel (violin), Vladimir Ashkenazy (piano)
DECCA 455 488-2 (2-CD)

MOZART Eine kleine Nachtmusik in G Major K525:
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra

ENESCU Suite No.3, Op.27 'Villageoise' (excerpt played from The old childhood house in the sunset): BBC Philharmonic, Gennady Rozhdestvensky (conductor)

ENESCU Suite No.3 Pieces impromptues, Op.18 (excerpt played from Carillon Nocturne): Luiza Borac (piano)
AVIE AV0013 (CD)

Further Reading:

Mihail Sebastian 'Journal 1935-1944'
(none of Sebastian's plays or novels is currently published in English)

Norman Manea 'The Hooligan's Return: A Memoir';
'On Clowns: The Dictator and the Artist' (Essays)

Curzio Malaparte 'Kaputt' (2005)

R.G. Waldeck 'Athene Palace' (1998)

Gregor Von Rezzori 'Memoirs of an Anti-Semite: A Novel in Five Stories'

Radu Ioanid 'The Holocaust in Romania: The Destruction of Jews and Gypsies Under the Antonescu Regime 1940-1944' (2000)

Irina Livezeanu 'Cultural Politics in Greater Romania' (1995)

Nicholas M. Nagy-Talavera 'The Green Shirts and the Others: A History of Fascism in Hungary and Romania' (2001)

Marta Petreu 'An Infamous Past: E. M. Cioran and the Rise of Fascism in Romania' (2005)

Leon Volovici 'Nationalist Ideology and Antisemitism: The Case of Romanian Intellectuals in the 1930s' (1991)


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