What made me love music: Matei Varga’s musical memories


Matei Varga, Rumanian concert pianist

I grew up in the last (and tough) few years of the Communist regime in Romania. Entertainment options were spare. My parents – in their youth – listened to a lot of ABBA and French chansonettes (Piaf, Greco, Brassens) but hardly any Beethoven or Schubert…

I remember falling in love with a famous (and very talented) Romanian pop singer by the name of Corina Chiriac. She was a big star at the time, and a constant presence on the national TV programs which were basically two hours every day, from 8 until 10pm.

I learned all her songs by heart and my mother wrote the lyrics for each one of them in a math notebook… Then I started concertizing this repertoire, either at home for my parents or their guests, or outside while taking a walk, waiting in line for food, etc.

So, I must say, my first hero was Corina, not Rubinstein!! My first piano crush was, perhaps surprisingly, not a household name but a fabulously talented young pianist whom I watched during the TV broadcast of the 1995 Queen Elisabeth competition – Victor Chestopal.


One thought on “What made me love music: Matei Varga’s musical memories

  1. My first recollection of a visceral response to Music was being introduced to Beethoven Symphonies when in elementary school, as played by The National Symphony Orchestra in Washington D.C. My parents observed my accurate sense of rhythm when I listened to music while still in a playpen. And, like Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny, as well as Danny Kaye, I was a highly energetic “conductor “ of Rossini Overtures and Offenbach’s “Gaiete Parisienne”! Ultimately, it was Bernstein’s Young People’s Concerts which absolutely enthralled me, and set me on my path towards a career as a musician, I believe. My 7th grade music teacher assigned me to write a report on Gilbert & Sullivan when I was but a lad of 13- and my fate was sealed.


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