National Art Centre “Youth ROMANIAN” – performing an IDEAL
One of the great necessities of this country is to educate its youth. It needs to do it according to morals for the active and trustworthy youth.
The risk is that the young mistake this conviction which is so necessary with lack of respect and contempt.
Nothing can stop this tendency apart from reading, thus assuring a connection with great minds. This society, which was so caring, has a great role to accomplish in this respect!
We cannot speak of the „Tinerimea Română” National Art Center’s present without mentioning its past!… It is known that it meant a lot for the country in 1877: Romania’s Independence.
The event invigorated the people, their spirit of sacrifice was awoken and they were enthusiastic beyond belief…
In close connection to the atmosphere of the time, a handful of students from Matei Basarab High School in Bucharest, including Aurel Şeicaru, Dumitru Soreanu the Olăneşti brothers, Alexandru Ionescu, Petre Popovici, Alimănescu and Nanu-Muscel, agreed to establish a literary and scientific society under the direction of the school to educate the Romanian youth according to the patriotic, cultural and christian spirit.
And… since it had to bear a name, they called it “TINERIMEA ROMÂNĂ”.
Once the institution was founded, it had to start its activity.
But where and how? Where would they find the documentation? The saving grace came from one of the members who had seen in the shop window of Socec Bookshop a scientific textbook in four volumes – „Les merveilles de la Science” by Louis Figuier, who they thought would help them in their endeavor.
After several attempts to buy it (the price was 40 lei – a bit pricey for those times), they eventually managed to purchase it and the much needed work was the source of consulting and documentation for rest of their lives.
The members of the society, who graduated from highschool and went to university, left behind their childhood and stepped into their teenage years by following a wonderful road, but inspired by the same desires. Professor Nae S. Dumitrescu had a decisive role in the fate of “Tinerimea Română” – he was a brilliant, energetic, enthusiastic man who, once he became president, managed the institution with love and fierceness for decades … The main objective of the Society was to stimulate deserving students. In order to highlight their qualities contests were initiated on various branches of activity, the students receiving awards and medals.
The idea came from Ion Zamoil (former rector of the University of Bucharest and an honorary member of the society). Primary contests take place In 1885 between schools in Bucharest, in 1893 the contests include rural schools and only in 1897 there are second competitions. Ever since 1895, purely cultural competitions are balanced with those of needlework and in 1901 with sporting competitions.
The annual contests – true “Romanian School Olympics” – had a well-defined purpose. They were not a simple assessment of the knowledge acquired in school, but sought to highlight the intellectual and artistic qualities of students, their natural inclinations towards cultivation of everything Romanian. The first Romanian language competition in the country takes place in 1897. Professor Gr. Tocilescu – the famous historian, wrote a report from which we extracted this: “In order to choose the topics for the competition, the commission reckoned that the school and only the school can awake, maintain and preserve national feeling”.
Special attention is given to reading. So as to stimulate the students, the society offered books with the help of a publishing house or of generous people.
Another aim were the trips attended by both teachers and students. The winners got a trip to the country’s historic sites.
One of the most memorable trips was the one from 1928 in Călugăreni – a place that conjures up the bravery of Romanian soldiers against the Ottoman army on August 23, 1595. One essential way of expression was to organize conferences attended by great cultural and scientific figures of the time who would give lectures. In this context, on the Romanian Athenaeum stage (whose impressive fresco which represents the entire history of the Romanian people was done by the painter Costin Petrescu – a member of the society), Barbu Ştefănescu-Delavrancea gave a memorable speech on patriotism, Octavian Goga recited some verses, and George Enescu, the great musician, conducted the orchestra. In the inter-war period, „Tinerimea română” organized several activities (allegorical chariots, exhibitions) to honor its predecessors and to involve and mobilize the youth for a new life. Thus, the recipients took part in placing a wooden crucifix at Mihai Viteazu’s “tomb” in Câmpia Turzii and unveiling Ion Vidu’s bust, a composer and conductor in Lugoj.
The annual homage to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Parcul Carol in Bucharest, recalling the heroic deeds of those who sacrificed themselves and contributed to the Great Union in 1918, and the building of monuments of Heroes across the country complete these series of events.
Drawing and music could not be missing from the activities, since they were frequently used to stimulate competition among students, as school subjects, as well as propagation for social masses. Popular song and dance competitions made people more interested and appreciative for the natural treasurers of popular art, and the brass band and choir ones had a resounding impact. Between 1888 and 1944 the Society had its own magazine in which there was mainly material related to its activity, but also social life information. One of its leaders was the brilliant professor Vasile Pârvan, a former award recipient of the society.
Not having its own headquarters – we mention that society members have expressed this thought since 1889 – the Bucharest City Hall gave it a plot of 547 square meters to solve that pressing problems in 1912. On May 25, 1924 the first brick was laid for the building on 4 Schitu Măgureanu Street, which would become the “TINERIMEA ROMÂNĂ SOCIETY PALACE”.
For the design of this building the members turned to Virginia Andreescu Haret, the first woman architect in the world, whose work was coordinated by architect Raul Black and engineer Valer Paler.
The building was multifunctional: in the basement there were a printing shop, a restaurant, at ground level a bathroom, its own bank and spaces for rent. The first floor had an assembly hall and its annexes. On the second floor there were bedrooms, and on the third floor the magazine’s management. On the fourth floor there was a large hall, an ethnographic museum, the library and the company management.
Its building cost 32 million lei and the society had only 300,000 lei! So it took tremendous effort to find solutions.
Part of the money was raised through public donations (even Nicolae Iorga donated a significant amount) and another was raised through loans which were to be paid back after the construction was over, by letting spaces.
The “Tinerimea română” Society was going to celebrate 50 years of existence in 1928 and everybody wanted this to happen in the new building.
So, on September 15, 1927, Nae S. Dumitrescu, the president and N. Zlotescu, his secretary, were once again speaking on behalf of the initiators to raise funds needed to complete construction that year, but the inauguration took place in 1935 after a strenuous process which resulted in a state-of-the-art building.
The Second World War was another opportunity for ultimate sacrifice. Among those who died for their Country and Great National ideals were brave soldiers who took part in the activities of ”Tinerimea Română”. After it ended, this “affiliation” of the survivors, which should have brought praise and – who knows – maybe some perks, actually caused a lot of trouble caused by the new totalitarian regime. But not only the people suffered, the building had its fair share of troubles! Gradually, through ignorance and bad management, it degraded morally and physically. It was assigned to U.T.M. then U.T.C., which had the task of promoting popular song and dance in the country and abroad.
Along the years, the institution has broadened its scope, comprising almost all artistic genres.
It had important Romanian artists since 1947 when “Ansamblul Artistic al Tineretului” was founded, until the revolution of 1989. After this date, the Tinerimea Română management was taken over by conductor Voicu Enăchescu who fought, like his predecessors, for the institution to regain its rights.
Thus, in 1991, when Andrei Pleșu was the Minister of Culture, the institution gets back the name of „Tinerimea română” and later its prestige… At present it is called the ”Tinerimea Română” National Arts Center, after several years of consolidation, modernizing, and restoration with funding from the Ministry of Culture.