Eugen Doga – The Last Classical Composer Alive
When speaking about the Communist regime in Russia, most people think about Stalin, Gulag and Russian immigration; to some point the assessment is correct.
Most people think Russians invented Communism, which is a wrong idea, because Russians were no more than victims of Communism, and paid for the “happiness to live in the Motherland of Workers befriended with Peasants” with some 30 million lives.
Few people know, however, that under this immense Communist propaganda trash the genial Russian culture endured and, more than that, had the capacity of producing geniuses in most of the cultural fields: poets, musicians, writers.
It was in the 20th century that great books were written, great musicians wrote or performed musical works that impressed most of the people all over the world.
It was in the 20th century, during the terror of Communism that Boris Pasternak wrote the great novel Doctor Zhivago, and that Dmitri Shostakovich wrote the breathtaking Second Waltz that does justice to the Russian spirit.
One of the most renowned composers in the 20th century, whose work was received in cheers (and sometimes in tears of joy and emotion), is Eugen Doga, a Moldovan/Romanian composer who lived and created most of his live in the Soviet Union.
Eugen Doga (also known as Eugene Doga, or Yevgheni Doga) was born on March 1, 1937, in Mocra village, Ribnitza District, in the Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (which was encompassing modern Transnistria, and some territories in the actual Ukraine).
He made his debut in 1963 with a string quartet, later on dedicating his immense talent to various musical compositions, film and theater tracks.
He graduated the Conservatoire in Chisinau, the capital city of the Republic of Moldova, and then performed as violoncellist in the Orchestra of the State Committee of the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic for television and radio, between 1952 and 1962.
For five years, between 1962 and 1967, Doga taught at the Music College “Stefan Neaga” from Chisinau. Then he held an office at the Moldavian Minister of Culture.
He is the author of many cantatas, of a symphony, romances, songs for children, songs for movies, instrumental music.
Eugen Doga manifests in his work what happens when Romanian spirit meets the Russian sensitivity and musical genius.
Though he can easily be considered one of the most prodigious Russian composers (Russians consider him so), he considers himself a Romanian, and is proud to be so, as he declared for the Romanian press upon arriving there on May 31, 2008, where at the Athenaeum in Bucharest he held a concert to be remembered by the Romanian music-lovers (though he is very renowned in the cultural centers in Russia, and probably in his homeland, Moldova, he is almost unknown to the Romanian public, only those who really appreciate classical music enjoying the beautiful sound of his music).
Eugen Doga can be considered the last waltz composer in the world, his works, often accompanying some famous movies, sometimes being pure autonomous meditations, were played in Vienna in 2007, where usually only the Strauss waltz kings are being played, thus the city of music recognizing and receiving in the hall of its worldwide fame the Romanian composer educated in the spirit of the Russian musical school.
My Sweet and Tender Beast
The song that made Doga famous was the soundtrack to the Russian movie My Sweet and Tender Beast , a movie about impossible love, social conventions, and destinies that struggle to overcome the social pressure.
Whoever sees the movie and the moment where Doga’s waltz is being played is under the impression that everybody in that setting is wrongly matched, almost each dancing with the wrong partner, while coveting to dance with another (see for yourselves).
It is a Russian theme that goes across the literature and music, a modern and romantic Romeo and Juliet, often ending like the famous Verona couple.
And if you feel like walking through the streets of Sankt Petersburg, the second-largest and probably the second-most beautiful city of Russia, you can listen to another waltz composed for the same movie.
It evokes a walk on the streets of the Russian northern pearl, a city that takes your breath away even if you come from other beautiful cities like Paris, London, Rome, Madrid, New York or Berlin.
Rondeau Castelul Peles
With this Rondeau, Eugen Doga places himself amongst the classical European musicians, being considered by the author of this article as the last classical composer alive at this moment in time (even though there are many composers deemed nawadays as “classical,” both in Russia and abroad, thei’re inclined toward more modern styles and only their means of expression is classical).
The Peles Castle (Castelul Peles) is one of the most respected settlements in Romania, and has been the residence of the Romanian kings since 1873 until 1947, when the Communist regime overthrew the Romanian Crown.
It is one of the most beautiful and representative historical sites in Europe, being built in many years, and under the guidance of many architects and royalties.
For he who understands the different architectural European styles, the eclecticism of the castle is striking. Italian and English Renaissance, Baroque, Roccoco, German Renaissance, Neo-classical, and different salons made in various cultural styles: The Turkish Salon, the Persian one and so on.
Now, listen to Doga’s rondeau dedicated to Peles, and observe how he describes these styles in musical notes, conveying the impression that you are going from room to room, from wing to wing!
Observe the Baroque, and then the Neo-classical rhythms, and then the Baroque again. Is it not a beautiful composition that tells a breathtaking story?
Have you ever imagined what the harpsichord would sound like if it were put on the music of our century?
You have a chance now to listen to such an adaptation of a classical theme for modern orchestra in the Sonnet, which is mere poetry on musical notes.
Waltz of Beauty
One of the most beautiful musical stances in Doga’s music is Waltz of Beauty. While listening to it, you can imagine anything, it unleashes your spirit to roam free.
Waltz of Beauty is… so beautiful that it can be compared to any other waltz in history of music, and very few stand a chance to equal it.
Silver Birch Alley
The Russians are crazy about their birch trees; in fact, the people who live in the East of Europe say Russia begin where the birch forests begin.
Listen to this piece of meditation called Silver Birch Alley! You will surely have a hard time understanding which birch alley is Doga referring to: some Russian ones, or an alley in heaven.
I must confess that hearing this song, I think that this is how angels sing in heaven. Don’t you?
I could go on for ever. Doga’s work is so vast and so great that it would take days only to list it.
Russians are proud to think of him as one of them. In 1997, he received from Russia the Order of the Republic, while 2008 he received The Order For Merits Before the Nation. The Institute of Film and Cinematography in Moscow made him a Doctor Honoris Causa.
Moldovan people think he is their national composer, and they are right. He received medals and decorations from the Moldavian Republic. In 2007, Moldovan authorities proclaimed “The Year Dedicated to Eugen Doga.”
Romanians also consider him one of them (those who heard of him), and they are right, too, especially since Doga considers himself a Romanian. Romania itself has some tradition in waltz composing: one of the most renowned waltzes in the world, known as The Waves of the Danube (and in the U.S. as The Anniversary Song), was composed by Romanian composer Iosif Ivanovici.
Even America respects him as we saw in the words of Ronald Reagan, and in the awarding of Golden Medal “The Man of the 20th Century,” in 1998.
In the end, Eugen Doga, like all classical composers, belongs to all music-lovers, be they Russians, Romanians, Americans, Chinese, or of any other nation in the world.11