Unknown Author. Alternative Music Broadcasting of Radio Vacanța Costinești, 1980s. Photo
This photograph, selected to demonstrate the photographic dimension of the Andrei Partoş–Radio Vacanţa-Costineşti Private Collection, shows the soloist Alexandru Andrieş during a live broadcast, alongside Andrei Partoş and one of his radio colleagues, Lilian Zamfiroiu, director of the Romanian Cultural Institute from 2013 to 2015 and currently Romanian ambassador in Luxembourg. Together with the discussions held in real time, it was mainly the music played on Radio Vacanţa-Costineşti that marked out the coordinates of a youth culture that did not align itself with the rigid demands of the age. This is emphasised by Andrei Partoş: “When I was talking to the microphone, live, I tried to be as free as I could. Of course, self-censorship operated. But I said many things in a two-edged way. And above all, I let the music speak instead of me. Music seemed to me the best way to transmit subliminal messages and, basically, to be subversive.”
The image in the photograph epitomises the live and implicitly uncensored concertos, which Radio Vacanța Costinești used to broadcast during the entire summer holiday season. Taking into account that the young people represented the exclusive audience in this resort of the Union of the Communist Youth in Romania, these concerts featured those pop singers who were the most popular among people with ages between fourteen and thirty. From among the recurrently invited guests at Radio Vacanța Costinești before 1989, Alexandru Andrieş was one of the most pleasing presences on Radio Vacanţa-Costineşti. He used to sing a genre of music which was improperly called muzică folk (in verbatim translation – folk music) and usually promoted as a phoney alternative music through the so-called Cenaclul Flacăra (in verbatim translation – The Flame Literary Circle). It is worth noting that Cenaclul Flacăra, which court poet Adrian Păunescu initiated as a non-conformist literary circle, had become by the late 1970s a frame for organising, under the disguised tutelage of the party, allegedly subversive song-and-poetry performances for young people, which were in fact meant to manipulate their rebellious nature (Petrescu 2010, 304–307). Unlike other soloists of muzică folk who used to perform during the Cenaclul Flacăra shows, Andrieş was not favoured in official circles, due to the really subversive political message of his songs (which he wrote and sang himself). He sang live for hours on Radio Vacanţa-Costineşti, although many of the pieces he composed and performed were banned. Among other songs, he performed live the famous “Today again, on the News,” a satirical song about those times of severe shortages: “Today again / On the News / I saw cheese. / I watched / The programme too / But it didn’t appear again / Although I waited / Till the end. / But no matter, / Tomorrow again / On the News / I’m going to see cheese.” This was a harsh satire directed at the pre-1989 regime, in a period when Romania faced serious economic problems and basic foodstuffs were rationed.
The photograph shows another dimension of “alternative” musical culture. Like the group Phoenix, which was also very popular among young people because of their ethno-rock with subversive messages, Alexandru Andrieş illustrates the “unofficial,” alternative element of Romanian musical production before 1989. Especially urban educated young people, who were capable to grasp the encrypted critical messages of the verses, preferred this type of music, alongside clandestinely recorded Western music.
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- Petrescu, Cristina
- Pătrăşconiu, Cristian Valeriu
Căutiș, Alexandru. 2013. “Nimic din Vama de azi nu era in Costineștiul de ieri” (Nothing in the Vama of today was in the Costineşti of yesterday). Kamikaze, July 28. Accessed October 25, 2016. http://www.kmkz.ro/de-pe-teren/interviu-dezvaluiri/andrei-partos-nimic-din-vama-de-azi-nu-era-in-costinestiul-de-ieri/
Petrescu, Dragoș. 2010. Explaining the Romanian Revolution of 1989: Culture, structure, and Contingency. Bucharest: Editura Enciclopedică.
Partoș, Andrei, interview by Pătrăşconiu, Cristian Valeriu , October 08, 2016. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection