Sigimund Toduţă was born in Simeria (Hunedoara) and attended his early school years at the secondary school that today proudly bears his name.
After 1918, while attending the Roman Catholic High School for Boys in Alba-Iulia, young Sigismund studied piano with Elisa Rieszner, then known as a former student of Franz Liszt.
Thus prepared, in 1926 Toduţă was admitted in the third year at the Conservatory of Music and Dramatic Art in Cluj, in Ecaterina Fotino’s piano class.He simultaneously attended the courses of the music pedagogy program, which he completed in 1930. At the end of his piano studies, Sigismund Toduţă appeared as soloist in the Conservatory orchestra 1932 concert, performing Beethoven’s Emperor.
The then conductor of the orchestra, Marţian Negrea, had become his teacher of composition in 1930. Toduţă thus fulfilled his vocation as a composer and in 1936 received his third graduation certificate from the Academy of Music and Drama, signed by Rector Augustin Bena.
During the same period, Toduţă attended two years of law school at the University of Cluj. In 1932, he received a graduation diploma from the University Pedagogical Seminary.
In the same year of 1932, he was admitted as music teacher at the St. Vasile cel Mare High School in Blaj, where he was immediately noticed and recommended by the Greek Catholic Metropolitan Church to continue his studies in Rome. Having received a partial financial support from the Patria Bank of Blaj, Toduţă arrived in the Italian capital and enrolled at the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music. There, he attended various courses and seminars and eventually graduated with a licentiate in Gregorian chant and a magisterium in sacred music composition. He was also a regular attendee of the famous professor Ferruccio Vignanelli’s organ class. His efforts were duly rewarded on November 14, 1938, when he earned his doctorate in sacred music (musical analysis and stylistics). In the course of these two years, fascinated by the great tradition of Italian music, Sigismund Toduţă decided to refine his knowledge and skills at Santa Cecilia Academy. There, he met Alfredo Casella and Ildebrando Pizzetti and attended piano master classes with Casella for at least one year. In 1938, Maestro Pizzetti looked over the works he had written in Cluj and Rome and encouraged him to follow his example as an Italian-trained composer.
He returned home in January 1939, “armed with seven specialized university degrees, of which three from higher schools in his home country and four from abroad” (interview, 1977). After 1947, Toduţă gradually made a name for himself as a teacher at the “Gheorghe Dima” Music Conservatory, where he laid the foundations of a unified and coherent school of composition, in the true tradition of the Romanian musical art.
Sigismund Toduţă – The Teacher
I feel a sense of complete satisfaction as I watch my former students grow and flourish. In the competing world of creative minds, their voices embody all the prolegomena of the Cluj school of composition, glowing with prospects of a bright future.
“Toduţă is recognized as a reformer of the new school of composition and a remarkable teacher, with a long and prestigious activity, a unique teaching style and an outstanding number of students… He taught almost all the theoretical subjects, starting with Theory-Solfege-Dictation (1948-1949), continuing with Harmony, Counterpoint, Fugue and Forms (1949-1955) and culminating with Music Composition (since 1949, and exclusively between 1955 and 1973). Thus, his multifarious work as a composer, performer, musicologist and teacher, doubled by that of researcher and promoter of uniquely valuable traditions that he tweaked and filtered through his own personal lens, enabled S. Toduţă to soar to the highest level of musical vision, attained by only a rare few. In like manner, his creative personality, reflected in a plethora of works of all musical genres, has established his name in recent decades as a staple of Romanian composition, the likes of which, after Enescu, our music has never seen again. Utterly dedicated to the pedagogy of composition for a quarter of a century and thereby reaching another high threshold of a profound belief, Professor S. Toduţă contributed substantially to the formation of about 20 composers, many of whom are today at the forefront of Romanian contemporary composition, serving the cause of education or sharing their compositional art abroad.”
(Dan Voiculescu, Hans Peter Türk, Cluj, 1984).
Doctoral Program in Romania
It was only in 1970 that Sigismund Toduţă took possession of his doctoral diploma, after fulfilling his obligation to publish the abstract of the thesis in Italy (“Bollettino Ceciliano” No. 2, Rome, 1969). Thus, he was able to fulfil his long-cherished dream of setting up a doctoral program in Cluj. The Cluj school of musicology undoubtedly owed its growing prestige to the composer’s well-known strict and rigorous standards.
List of Ph.D theses supervised by Prof. S. Toduţă:
1. Romeo Ghircoiaşiu, Contribuţii la istoria muzicii româneşti [Contributions to the History of Romanian Music], 1970;
2. Gheorghe Ciobanu, Lăutarii din Clejani [The Gipsy Musicians from Clejani], 1971;
3. Vasile Herman, Formă şi stil în noua creaţie muzicală românească [Form and Style in Romanian Contemporary Music], 1973;
4. Cornel Ţăranu, Creaţia enesciană în lumina prezentului [A Present-Day Perspective of Enescu’s Works], 1973;
5. Erwin Junger, Funcţia armoniei baroce în lucrările lui J. S. Bach [The Function of Baroque Harmony in J. S. Bach’s Works], 1975;
6. Victor Giuleanu, Principii fundamentale în teoria muzicii [Fundamental Principles of Music Theory], 1976;
7. Octavian Nemescu, Capacităţi semantice ale semnului muzical [Semantic Capacities of Music], 1978;
8. Anatol Vieru, De la moduri spre un model al gândirii muzicale intervalice [From Modes to a Model of the Intervallic Musical Thought], 1978;
9. Hans Peter Türk, Contradominanta în creaţia lui W. A. Mozart [The Counter Dominant in the Works of W. A. Mozart, 1979];
10. Gheorghe Firca, Structuri şi funcţii în armonia modală [Structures and Functions in Modal Harmony], 1979;
11. Constantin Rîpă, Ideea mioriticã în creaţia muzicalã cultă românească [The Mioritic Idea in Romanian Art Music], 1980;
12. Nicolae Brânduş, Baze ale unei analize formale a limbajului muzical [Bases of a Formal Analysis of Musical Language], 1982;
13. Péter Vermesy, Evoluţia cadenţelor de la monodia medievală până la Renaştere [The Evolution of Cadences from the Mediaeval Monody to the Renaissance], 1983;
14. Dan Voiculescu, Aspecte ale polifoniei secolului XX [Aspects of 20th-Century Polyphony], 1983;
15. Ede Terényi, Unele elemente de teorie generală ale armoniei contemporane [Elements of the General Theory of Contemporary Harmony], 1983.
Rector of the Gheorghe Dima Conservatory
The appointment of Professor Sigismund Toduţă as rector of the Gheorghe Dima Conservatory (1962-1965) represented a moment of major importance in the life of the institution. The name of the function itself was now pronounced with greater distinction.
His high academic standing and attitude earned him a distinguished place among the illustrious university rectors of the Cluj of that time: Constantin Daicoviciu, Aurel Moga, Alexandru Domşa, Emil Negruţiu and Daniel Popescu, whose erudition and dignified bearing exuded an aura of magnificence.
The negotiations of the institution’s key issues (the number of students and the curricula) were substantially facilitated by the musicians’ demands being addressed to the Minister of Education, Prof. Ştefan Bălan, through the voice of a nationally acknowledged personality.
As no managerial project has been preserved, we will try to pinpoint the directions that we have managed to gather from the composer’s notes on his participation in the fulfilment of the management board’s objectives, which were eventually achieved, despite some objective or mentality-related obstacles.
- ensuring the number of students needed for the setting up of the Choir and Orchestra of the institution;
- restructuring the teaching staff through department reorganization, retirements and employment of young graduates;
- monitoring the students’ performance through classroom visits and assistance in examinations, especially for certain theoretical subjects, but also for the specialized subjects, chamber music, secondary piano and others;
- emphasizing the importance of scientific research through thematic presentations within the departments, preparation of the first teachers’ Scientific Communications Session in 1964 and publication of the papers in a special volume;
- participation of the teachers of the Faculty of Instrumental and Vocal Music in annual public recitals and organization of the first permanent concert season in 1965-1966;
- attaching greater importance to these artistic events by printing posters, concert programs, photographing the protagonists and audio recording their performance;
- expanding the range of the repertoire by including Baroque works and stimulating the interest in 20th-century music (by removing the less valuable romantic works);
- identifying the actual body of study materials by making an inventory thereof and by adopting measures to update the library stocks;
trying to establish relationships with other art institutions in the country and abroad.
* * * Sigismund Toduţă – Confessions, Documents, Testimonies, 2008.
Director of the Transylvania State Philharmonic
In 1970, following the death of Antonin Ciolan, the founding director of the Transylvania State Philharmonic, the top position remained vacant. It had to be filled by someone of the same stature.
When invited to lead the institution’s destinies, Sigismund Toduţă conditioned his acceptance of the position upon the establishment of a permanently state-funded choral ensemble, without which the great vocal-symphonic repertoire could not be performed. After difficult negotiations, the ensemble was created in 1972 and became, over the years, one of the best in the country, enjoying great international success.