Poverty, Paralysis And Persistence Create Pure Perfection

INTERVIEW: EVGENII DOGA

Moldovan musician, Evgenii Doga, dismissed his life of poverty and paralysis to realise his dream of becoming a musician. His fascinating story is uncovered here.

OCA: How did you become such a talented creative person in Moldova?

Evgenii Doga: I liked music from my childhood, but I could not even imagine that it would become my profession. Music had always been out of favour. Even the famous classics mostly lived in poverty. And even in our village, musicians played only at weddings and funerals.

The time of my childhood was not up to music: a terrible post-war famine, continuous epidemics, the loss of my father in the war. But my destiny was probably already destined somewhere up there. I loved tinkering, whether it was a bicycle, gramophone, mandolin or harpsichord. I abandoned my plans for entering an industrial school where I was supposed to be fed, dressed, and I only needed to study for 2 years, in order to quickly come to the aid of my mother. Only three months later, my mother sold everything to survive and I went barefoot to Chisinau. It was here that I was fortunate to be asked to play the cello.

But at the end of the conservatory, my left hand was paralysed and I bid farewell to the cello, although I played well and even a film was shot with my performance. What to do? I decided to return to the conservatory to the composer faculty. I wanted to come up with something, some kind of dance, since my childhood, and so that the brass band of our village would play this. But I was embarrassed to even tell anyone about it. In parallel with the cello classes, I secretly wrote something. But my teacher P.I. Bachinin became interested in my “creativity” and organised it to be played with the orchestra, and then on the radio. My first song was performed by my classmate, Marie Biesu, who later became a world star, one of the best chio chio san of the world. And it went on from there.

OCA: How did you create the famous waltz for the film “My Sweet and Tender Beast”, which was recognised as a 20th century masterpiece by UNESCO?

ED: It is unlikely that the composer thinks about creating a masterpiece during their work. What is true is that he is trying to do his best. With the ingenious director of this film, Emil Lotyanu, six months before the shooting, we agreed to write “Waltz” for the scene of the wedding of Olya Skvortsova, since we did not find anything good in the music libraries. The film shooting began with it. And then one late evening, an angry director bursts into my hotel room and says from the threshold: “Waltz!” I quickly removed the notes for another picture so that the director wouldn’t notice and in fear I “trinketed” something in the rhythm of the waltz, not being completely ready for such a situation and knowing that this was not at all what Lotyan demanded. After strained improvisations, the director opened the door and left, terribly angry left. And then, from the hallway he informed me that tomorrow there was a recording and an orchestra was already ordered. After painful thoughts, I gathered my thoughts and began to add up the score of the future waltz. What I wrote, and how it turned out, I did not even have time to realise, or at even remember. By the morning I passed the score to the orchestra and by evening, at the Mosfilm studio, the cinematography orchestra under the guidance of the talented conductor S. Skrypka played this “Waltz” and the musicians began banging the consoles with bows in approval. At the beginning I thought it was a joke, a practical joke, but time judged in its own way and today this music sounds around the world.
OCA: Do you visit Moldova and and conduct concerts there?

ED: Moldova is my homeland. I live there, although for many years, and even now, my life is connected with Moscow. I was recognised there, and for the first time my music entered the big world. I continuously hold concerts there. At the very beginning of my career, I travelled with small groups of performers throughout the Soviet Union, and visited almost all of its geographical points. I love iconic performances. If holding a concert, then it’s in the Kremlin Palace, in Ateneu Romin in Bucharest, in Schonbrunn in Vienna, in Ankara with the presidential orchestra, Canada, USA, China … And, of course, in Chisinau in the National Palace. I also performed together with the Leningrad concert orchestra in my native village of Mokra. But I especially remembered the performance in front of 9 listeners in a taiga pear, where my small group of performers and I, came on a tractor through terrible mud, and in the rain. These people saw artists for the first time in their lives. You should have seen these happy faces and outstretched, strained hands to us as a token of gratitude! They are still in my mind.

OCA: Do your listeners from Central Asia differ a lot from listeners from European countries at your performances?

ED: I have long ago understood that the listeners around the world don’t differ a lot. I remember a performance in China. I was terribly worried how they would perceive my music there! During the performance, you could even hear a fly (though they don’t have flies there), there was such silence. I had to perform at different times in Tashkent, Alma-Ata, Samarkand, Bishkek and the reception everywhere was always very warm. Moreover, when the film with my music “Gypsies go to Heaven” was just released, I was asked by the audience to perform something from this film. A lot of letters were received from Asian republics asking where to buy records with the recording of this, and other music. Even now, sometimes someone comes up after a performance to sign an autograph on an old record. Listeners want to listen to music that excites them, which affects their souls. I try to write such music. And the listener feels it perfectly and reciprocates both in Europe and in Asia.

OCA: Do you still write music for movies or TV shows? If so, which ones?

ED: It has been a few years now that I no longer write music for films. Those who offer them are not interesting to me, and those to which I would write with pleasure, are not to be found. I love romantic films, and today they are almost gone. There are a lot of detective stories, films of violence, rudeness, sex-mania. Soon there is an interesting work expected at the Bucharest studio, where I can again return to the movie genre, which I yearn for. For TV shows, I wrote music, but not for long. This is also not so interesting, since the meaning in them is far from romanticism. And they prefer electronic music.

OCA: Do you write compositions for ballet or operas?

Yes, I have three ballets. But only one was played in the theatre. This is the ballet “Lucheaferul” based on the eponymous poem of the brilliant Romanian poet Mihai Eminescu, the libretto of Emil Loteanu. It went on a stage very successfully, received the USSR State Prize, was shown at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, and at the Mariinsky Theatres in Leningrad, Kiev and Minsk.Today in Chisinau, the ballet troupe is not able to play such a performance due to complex problems in the opera and ballet theatre itself.

OCA: What do you like to do in your free time?

ED: I have no free time. Even if I don’t do music, I’m doing other interesting things for me. I have not yet realised the need for a simple walk, just to walk, to go to rest houses. In my “free time” I participate in some jury or arrange musical evenings in my music salon with the participation of musicians, artists, poets, drama artists, etc.

OCA: Where in the world do you feel most comfortable performing?

I am European. This is my large house. It’s impossible not to love the land on which I was born. The huge intellectual forces and activity of tens of generations of outstanding people are concentrated here. I am glad that my ancestors were Europeans and conveyed this love to me. Maybe that’s why in any countries where I have to perform, they listen to me with great understanding and love.

I really want such concerts, as in Chisinau or in Romania in the open air with the participation of thousands of listeners. To come to listen, not only those who can, but also those who want to. I love it when people come together, when the whole world comes together. Music contributes to it.