Sigismund Toduta and Sacred Music in Communist Romania



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Sigismund Toduta is one of the most important figures in twentieth-century Romanian music, but he had the misfortune of living during the communist era when artistic choices were subject to state censorship. Toduta had to walk a fine line between aligning his creative output with the ideology of the state and following his personal artistic views. This reconciliation was particularly challenging for him, as he devoted a substantial percentage of his compositional output to sacred music while the communist society embraced atheism. This study discusses how Toduta reconciled his artistic ideals with the atheist ideology and the censorship of the communist regime. It draws on biographical and stylistic studies that are available almost exclusively in Romanian to illustrate the directions of his work in music. This study also explores Toduta’s lifelong admiration of J.S. Bach’s music; his constant interest in the Baroque composer is reflected in his explications of Bach’s music for Romanian audiences. This study analyzes the musical style of two works for piano. Toduta’s Passacaglia (1943) is the first work that can be considered part of his overall homage to J.S. Bach. A work written thirty years later, Prelude-Choral-Toccata (1974), can be considered part of the same homage to the Baroque master. These two pieces show an evolution of the composer’s style; the later piece shows more freedom in the use of form, rhythm, and harmony. Nonetheless, both pieces reveal hidden Christian religious observance; the communist regime’s enforcement of atheism made it necessary for Toduta to obscure his spirituality with compositional techniques.



Toduta, Passacaglia