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  • Iulia Andreescu

Maria Tănase

If the French have Édith Piaf, and the Portuguese have Amália Rodrigues, Romanians have Maria Tănase. She was both a singer and an actress, whose voice, physical appearance and charisma, easily turned her into a national diva. Her music varied from ”traditional Romanian music to romance, tango, chanson and operetta”.[1]

Maria Tănase was born in a suburb of Bucharest on 25th September 1913 . Her father was a master gardener and a florist, and also owner of a big nursery on the outskirts of Bucharest. Spending her childhood among her father’s workers coming from different regions of Romania, she got deeply fascinated by the folk songs and tales those people were singing ans saying.

Her real debut as a singer took place on 2nd June 1934 with the stage name Mary Atanasiu. In the fall of 1937 she recorded her first folk songs at the Columbia studio in Bucharest and on 20th February 1938 her voice was heard for the first time on the radio[2].

In 1939, she travelled to Paris where she met Constantin Brancusi. They fell in love with each other. The famous sculptor was impressed by her voice and by the fact that she was singing traditional songs from his birthplace, he told her: "When I hear you singing, Maria, I would be able to carve for each song of ours a Bird in Space!". [3]

In 1939, accomapanied by Brancusi, she represented Romania at the New York World's Fair, being called the ambassadress of Romanian folk music [4].

During the 7 months of the National Legionary State, Maria Tănase was banned from performing in public and her recordings were destroyed [5].

During World War II, she performed with other Romanian singers and actors in "camp shows" for Romanian soldiers. She also performed for the country's ruler, King Michael I, and other political leaders during the Christmas season of 1943 [6].

After World War II, she performed in many plays, musicals, and movies. Also, she was touring a lot, having more than 40 trips to New York City [7].

Maria Tănase received the State Prize in 1955, and in 1957 she was honored with the medals "Ordinul Muncii" (The Order for Activity), "Premiul de Stat" (The State Award), and the title "Artistă Emerită" (Honoured Artist of the Republic) for her contributions to the arts [8].

She died of lung cancer, on June, 22nd 1963. Even nowadays, people come and leave flowers on her grave in Bellu cemetery, as a sign that she is still loved and appreciated.

Among her most important songs are: Cine iubește și lasă , Leliță cârciumăreasă , Bun îi vinul ghiurghiuliu , Doina din Maramureş , Ciuleandra, Mărie şi Mărioară.


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