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Ghisela Suliţeanu

SULIŢEANU, GHISELA (1920–2006), Romanian ethnomusicologist. She played a very special role within the discipline of Romanian ethnomusicology. She joined the Institute of Folklore immediately after its founding in 1949 and was one of its most assiduous workers until her retirement in 1979. However, she continued to work on her incredibly large musical collections from the field as well as on her theoretical ideas. She earned her Ph.D. at the University of Bucharest in 1974; her thesis was on the psychology of folk music, a quarter of which was published in 1980. She collected a great deal of Sephardi and Ashkenazi folk music as well as religious (synagogal) music. The only anthology of Jewish folk music in Romania was published by Emil Săculeţ in the late 1950s, but Suliţeanu also worked on this anthology, even writing the foreword for the book's first edition (1956), which was destroyed – withdrawn from the market immediately after it was printed, then recycled as scrap paper. Despite fears and lack of institutional support, Suliţeanu was the only one among the remaining Jewish colleagues who continued to collect, transcribe, write, and publish on Jewish music. In later years she very much wanted to see the publication of her long commentary and huge transcription of the Purimspiel Joseph and His Brothers that she identified and recorded in Romania in the early 1970s. She also worked hard on a book devoted to her studies from 1960 to 1980 on the folk music of the Turkish and Tartar communities in southeastern Romania. Suliţeanu embraced many modern subjects and approaches, familiarizing local academic research with ideas and books coming from the West (she was the first, and actually the only one to plead for the introduction into Romania of the ideas of the famous international ethnomusicologists Lomax, Ellis, Merriam, and Blacking). Although she was allowed to travel abroad and contribute papers read at various international congresses and conferences, she was never invited to teach in Romania at the university level. Thus, she shined individually and modestly without transforming or turning specifically Romanian scholarship toward the paradigms and perspectives she was capable of opening up. Among her numerous works are volumes devoted to the folk dance music in Muscel (1976), ballads in southeastern Romania – Brăila County (1980) – a huge lullaby anthology (1986), her Psihologia folclorului muzical ("Psychology of Folk Music"), and numerous academic essays found in various ethnomusicological journals, proceedings, and collective books.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.