Maria Tănase

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Maria Tănase (Romanian pronunciation: [maˈri.a təˈnase]; 25 September 1913 – 22 June 1963) was a singer of Romanian traditional music, folklore.

In 2013, musical group Pink Martini named Maria Tănase one of their greatest inspirations.[1]

Maria Tănase
Maria Tanase 1937.jpg
Background information
Birth name Maria Tănase
Also known as Mary Atanasiu
Born (1913-09-25)25 September 1913
Died 22 June 1963(1963-06-22) (aged 49)
Occupations singer, actress
Instruments Voice
Years active 1937–1963


Born in Bucharest suburb of Cărămidarii de Jos, or Cărămidari, Maria Tănase attended Primary School nr. 11 from Tăbăcari. Her father, Ion Coanda Tănase, was a master gardener and a florist, also owner of a big nursery on the outskirts of Bucharest, which employed female workers from different various regions of Romania. These women, in turn, would share traditional folk songs and tales which deeply enthralled little Maria, which was to leave a permanent mark on her.

She made her stage debut in Cărămidarii de Jos, at the "Ion Heliade Rădulescu" High School. In 1934, she joined the "Cărăbuş" Theatre of Constantin Tănase with the help and advice of newspaper writer Sandu Eliad, who, at that time was her partner.[2] Her real debut took place on June 2, 1937 with the stage name Mary Atanasiu in the musical hall theatres, Alhambra and Gioconda. Shortly after, she started to develop a local and international following. She represented Romania at the International Exhibition in Paris in 1937, as well as at the 1939 New York World's Fair. On February 20, 1938[3] her voice was heard for the first time on the radio. In that year, she made her first recordings for the Romanian Radio Society, which contributed to her fame. Unfortunately, these early recordings are said to have been destroyed by the "authorities" during the first months of the National Legionary State, the time when Maria Tănase was also banned from performing in public.[4]

During World War II, together with George Enescu, George Vraca and Constantin Tănase, she was making stage tours singing in front of soldiers injured on the battlefield. In December 1943, she sang at the Christmas festivities at the Royal Cavalry Regiment, where King Michael I of Romania, Ion Antonescu, Mihai Antonescu and all the members of the government were present as guests. In 1944 Maria Tănase took time to sing in Edmond Audran's operetta "Mascota" (The Mascot).

Stamp of Moldova md622.jpg

After World War II, she performed in Review Ensemble Theatre and "Constantin Tănase" Satirical and Musical Theatre. She had parts in the plays "The Living Corpse" by Leo Tolstoy in 1945, and "Horia" by Mihai Davidoglu in 1956. In 1946 she held the main part in the musical comedy "The Hollywood Sphinx", by Ralph Benatzky. She sang in the movie "Romania" in 1947, and in 1958 she performed in both "Ciulinii Bărăganului" (The Thistles of the Bărăgan), and the short-reel film "Amintiri din Bucureşti" (Memories from Bucharest). During these years Maria was also touring a lot, she had over forty trips only to New York City.

In 1952, Maria Tănase was offered a position at the Music School No. 1 in Bucharest, in the newly created traditional folk song department; 1962 found her guiding "Taraful Gorjului" (The Gorj Folk Music Band) in Târgu Jiu and the artists from "taraf", at her own request.

On May 1, 1963, after a concert in Hunedoara, she was forced to cancel her tour and any other performances due to sickness. On June 22, 1963, she died of cancer. She was buried at the Bellu cemetery in Bucharest, Romania.

In 1955, Maria Tănase received the State Prize 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.

However, within her lifetime, she had also been fondly remembered by many Romanians as their own Edith Piaf, the legendary French singer who, like Maria, had also achieved worldwide fame by way of her own extensive repertoire of French cabaret songs. Where Maria was born in September of 1913, Edith Piaf's birth came a couple of years soon afterward, in December of 1915. Sadly, however, but interestingly enough, they both passed away in the very same year of 1963: Maria died in June, three months short of her 50th birthday, whereas, Edith Piaf died in October, two months away from her 48th. Throngs of people had filled the streets of Bucharest and Paris respectively, on the days of their deaths, to memorialize the two ladies who helped make the folk music of their own respective countries a worldwide phenomenon.

Year Title Label
1957 "IV" Electrecord
1994 "Greatest Hits" Electrecord
1994 "Maria Tanase (24 Works)" Electrecord
2001 "Ciuleandra" Oriente Musik
2000 "Malediction d'Amour" Oriente Musik
2002 "Magic Bird (The Early Years)" Oriente Musik
"Maria Tănase Volume I" Electrecord
"Maria Tănase Volume II" Electrecord
"Maria Tănase Volume III" Electrecord


The character of Floricica in the first novel of Olivia Manning's Fortunes of War trilogy is supposed to have been based upon Maria Tănase.[5]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Maria Roşca, "Maria Tănase", p. 35, Editura Muzicală, Bucureşti, 1988
  3. ^ Maria Roşca, "Maria Tănase", p. 38-43, Editura Muzicală, Bucureşti, 1988
  4. ^ Maria Roşca, "Maria Tănase", p. 89, Editura Muzicală, Bucureşti, 1988
  5. ^ Carmen Andraş, "Olivia Manning şi Bucureştiul interbelic - Auto-cenzura ideologică şi/sau afectivă", Centrul de cercetare a imaginarului.

Further reading[edit]

  • Ghiaţă, Petre; Sachelarie, Clery (1966). Maria Tănase şi cîntecul românesc (in Romanian) (2nd ed.). Bucureşti: Editura Muzicală a Uniunii Compozitorilor din R.S. România. 
  • Michailescu, Gaby (2003). Maria cea fără de moarte (in Romanian). Cluj Napoca: Eikon. ISBN 973-86470-0-2. 
  • Nedelcea, Tudor (1999). Pasărea măiastră (in Romanian) (2nd ed.). Craiova: Scrisul Românesc. ISBN 973-99013-9-5. 
  • Roşca, Maria (2000). Maria Tănase, privighetoarea din Livada cu Duzi (in Romanian). 2 volumes. Ginta Latină. 
  • Roşca, Maria (1988). Maria Tănase (in Romanian). Bucureşti: Editura Muzicală. 
  • Sbârcea, George (1991). Maria Tănase, pasărea măiastră a cântecului românesc, îşi povesteşte viaţa lui George Sbârcea (in Romanian). Romhelion. ISBN 973-9052-04-5. 

External links[edit]