Key Women in Romanian Life

Text and biography: Dan. C. Mihailescu, Sorina Golosie                               Foreward: Princess Maria Sturdza

  • Dora D'Istria
  • Regina Maria
  • Hariclea Darclee
  • Smaranda Braescu
  • Sfanta Teodora
  • Maria Rosetti
  • Elvira Popescu

The album “Key women in Romanian life” makes a selection of the most famous Romanian women, among those who marked the country’s life. The album features 50 feminine personalities, in an obviously subjective selection, but including the most important women of Romania. We chose to present in this page only seven of the fifty personalities in the wonderful and elegant description of the critic Dan C. Mihailescu .


Dora d’Istria, the first woman to conquer the Alps

“Oh, Lord, how delightfully I let myself absorbed by  Dora d’Istria’s large book on the women of the East in the mid-eighties! How fervently / wandered. comparing through her eyes and writing, the city of Bucharest. Transilvania. and the entire Levant! Rarely did I regret so deeply giving away a book that was so special to me. I offered it to a lady I was  very’ fond of  she cherished the Ghica family and planned to write a monumental book on the author of “Economic Talks” and of “Letters to V. Alecsandri “. The fact that Dora d’Istria’s spectacular ethno-psychological notes were not republished after 1989 is an unexplainable injustice. (However. from what I’ve heard. Georgeta Filitti committed herself to helping us overcome our regrets. editorially speaking). Most probably, for the fanatics of the Internet era, the term “people psychology” sounds antiquated. utopian, and perhaps even racist. But l assure you, for the past-ridden. “Les Femmes en Orient'” would make a delightful reading.”


Regina Maria, the first woman member of The French Academy of Fine Arts

“The absolute incarnation of the Romanian femininity. It does not bate anything to do with her Russian-British foundation (even though. in reality, it played an essential role). The truth is that she put up a long (tormenting. yet solid and irreversible) fight against her sweet-stinging  Walachian captivity. She had an admirable understanding of our virtues and vices. fighting tenaciously for the valorization of the former and the minimization (protection) of the latter. She was one of the three key factors in the foundation of Unified Romania, alongside King Ferdinand and Ionel Brătianu. This exemplary coalescence of pragmatism, political flair. optimism, sterile beauty. grace. refinement and sensuality. clarity, idealism, force, diplomacy. winner mentality. and mourning maternity embodies the richest work in the library of Romanian memoirism. In short. “Missy”was – and still is – fully worthy of the same attention from the media as “Sissy, ” if not more.”


Hariclea Darclee, the Carpathians’ Nightingale

“With legendary Darclee at one end Angela Gheorghiu, the diva of our times, at the other and resounding names such Zeani, PaSy, Cortez, Florescu, Teodorini in between these cardinal points in time, we ought to seriously re( consider) the merits of the Romanian bel canto, but also the bitter wretchedness of our foibles. Because, let’s not forget that the granddaughter of the Mavrocordat family, who spoke German, French, Italian, Spanish, English, Russian and Greek of course, gave 116 performances at La Scala in Milan. Let’s not forget that Puccini composed an aira especially for her and that she sang alongside Caruso, Giraldoni, Marki, Titta Ruffo and uith conductor Toscanini. Verdi himself applauded her and “Enciclopedia dello spettacolo ” named her the greatest soprano of the past 23 years. Yet, she died in poverty, forgotten by everyone, in a country that denied her the wish to establish a national singing school. What’s more, her funeral at Bellu cemetery was supported by the Italian Embassy. Don ‘tyou find this irony typical for us Romanians?”


Smaranda Braescu, world parachuting champion 

“Certainly, almost all the personalities discussed in this album could easily become the subject of a movie or a novel character. However only few of them bate such a fabulous biography: she literally and metaphorically speaking skydived from Cluj to San Francisco: she set world records and was sentenced in absentia: she was the first woman in Europe to be granted a US pilot licence: she was awarded for her braivery as a war pilot; she protested against the Romanian Stalinism, and eventually completely disappeared (the whereabouts of her tomb are unknown). This is yet another Romanian paradox: the relationship of the Romanian people – peasants, shepherds, foresters, wine growers, fishermen, beekeepers, with aviation (in this case, with parachutting) is just as bizarre as Iorga’s synchrony with avant-gardism.”


Sfanta Teodora from Sihla, the only Romanian Saint of the Orthodox Church

“In my opinion, three things seemed to me to be highly significant in the legendary life of our Saint. That she was the daughter of a boyar archer, so she had all the chances of a well-filled life from the angle of comfortable living. That she was married, but she and her husband later chose the way of monasticism. But the third thing makes me give him again (with fury and exasperation) to Cioran in his theory with the genius of the failure of the Romans and the motto “it was not.” Who will ever explain to us why the relics of Saint Theodora from Sihla to Pecerska? What value would we have had in exchange for compensations we had to compensate with such holy reign? Anyway, at least remember August 7 and worship at least a minute of guilty silence.”


Maria Rosetti, the first journalist woman in Romania

“A savory character alike in CA’s diary. Rosetti, Rosenthal’s painting and, over a century, Ioana Pânulescu (v. Intimacy of the 19th century): revolutionary exalted franco-roman antics on the background of Jules Michelet, British eccentricity, overflowing sensualism, levantine non-slavery with patriotism ) Feveric and anarchic. Composed of often dazzling contradictions, she plays almost simultaneously in compositional roles and in scores for which she has “le physique de l’emploi”: Juny exuberant jerk, infant mistress, domestic illiterate wife, exile resistance, mourning mother, subtle conspirator , The tenacious warrior, the family savior, and others. Ioanna Pârvulescu defines the paradox: “The sister of the British consul secretary in Bucharest, born of a Scottish father and a French mother”, will be the model of revolutionary Romania in the famous painting by C.D. Roscnthal …, a Jew born in Budapest”!”


Elvira Popescu, Our Lady of Theatre

“It does not seem to you an ironic injustice to make theater and film from 16 to 84 years old, to live in 22-room houses, to become a character in .Matisse paintings. Along with Anna de Noailles. Martha Bibescu and Elena Văcărcscu, to be decorated by President Mitterrand with the Legion of Honor (in 1989), and the French press to compare you with Grcta Garbo, while the Valah exile suspects of collaborationism – and the youth of Bucharest to know you only as the name To a cinema (is it right in the French Institute)? Sure, the posterity whims are inevitable and irrepressible. But at least for our bookstores, at least an anthology DVD, after a scrap of Parisian film archives, would deserve the actress guided a century ago by Nottara and Aristizza Romanescu to patronize an artistic salon on Avenue Foch. Where she was admired by names such as Rothschild, Vaiery Giscard d’Estaing, Jacques Chirac & co.”


Full list of personalities presented in the album: Queen Maria, the first femalewoman member of the French Academy of Fine Arts; Marta Bibescu, member of the Royal Academy in Brussels; Alice Voinescu, the first woman Doctor of Sorbonne philosophy; Maruca Cantacuzino, George Enescu’s muse; Quin Elisabeta, poet Quin; Monica Lovinescu, the Voice of Romania in Free Europe; Cella Delavrancea, debutant pianist at the age of 8 on the Romanian Athenaeum; Elena Vacarescu, the first woman Honorary Member of the Romanian Academy; Dora d’Istria, the first woman who conquer the Alps; Iulia Hasdeu, the early child of Roman literature; Lucia Sturza Bulandra, Eternal Lady of the Romanian Theater; Maria Tanase, Queen of the Romanian Song; Hortensia Papadat-Benngescu, the creator of the modern psychological novel; Iolanda Balas, world athlete of the sec. XX; Olga Greceanu, the only woman with preaching in the pulpit; Elvira Popescu, Our Lady of Theater; Anita Nandris Cudla, model of resistance in the Siberian gulag; Princess Ileana, princess of angels; Ana Aslan, pioneer of Gerontology and Geriatrics in the world; Maria Rosetti, the first journalist woman in Romania; Ecaterina Teodoroiu, the heroine from Jiu; Sarmize Bilcescu, the world’s first woman doctor in Law; Smaranda Gheorghiu, the first woman who travel to the North Pole; Clara Haskil, pianist genius of the world; Maria Filotti, the theater as a destiny; Sofia Nadejde, the writer of the first feminist novel; Cecilia Storck, the first woman professor of art in Europe; Aristizza Romanescu, the first diva of the Romanian theater; Ana Ipatescu, Jeanne d’Arc of Romania; Hariclea Darclee, the Nightingale of the Carpathians; Elisabeth Rizea, the heroine of the anti-communist struggle in Fagaras; Mrs. Chiajna, the woman who led an army at war; Alexandrina Cantacuzino, initiator of the Independent Women’s Party; Marina Stirbei, founder of the White Squadron; Stefania Maracineanu, inventor of artificial poles; Elena Caragiani, the world’s first airplane reporter; Aurora Gruescu, the first female forestry engineer in the world; Virginia Andreescu, the world’s first architect, general inspector; Ella Negruzzi, the first woman admitted to the Romanian Bar; Maria Teohari, the first Romanian astronomer; Sofia Ionescu-Ogrezeanu, one of the first women neurosurgeons in the world; Elisa Leonida Zamfirescu, the first woman engineer in Europe; Smaranda Braescu, World Champion on skydiving; Maria Cutarida, the first woman doctor in Romania; Elena Theodorini, the first diva of Romania, the last diva of the sec. XIX; Clody Berthola, the modern Romanian theater muse; Jeni Acterian, the memory of the Romanian interwar elite; Vera Atkins, the most important Romanian secret agent; Renadi Parlea, the first model in the world; Saint Teodora of Sihla, the only Romanian Saint of the Orthodox Church.

“To be really unhappy, you have to give yourself your consent. Everything you do in the world must be fulfilled with exaltation, with the understanding that what you do, another can not.”  (Olga Greceanu) 

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