The Romanian composer Nicolae Bretan occupies a special niche in the history of Western music. In his several operas and prodigious number of art songs, Bretan looked to the essential nature of song itself, and to the capabilities of the human voice in regard to its expressive functions and possibilities. In this sense he can be compared to Gluck, and also, in the directness and "natural" qualities of his musical language, to Mussorgsky.
The rediscovery of Bretan and the revival of his music today are important for two reasons. The need for atonement - for the political injustice done to the man himself, in his own country and as an artist - is fairly obvious. But the recovery of his works is a cultural obligation we all must share, as we must with respect to all of Western culture's great artistic creations.
A new biography Nicolae Bretan, His Life - His Music by Hartmut Gagelmann, translated by Beaumont Glass, is available from Pendragon Press (ISBN 1-57647-021-0)