“Relative Man: the Music of Ionel Petroi,” by Ionel Petroi and Ivanka Stoïanova.
Born in Yugoslavia into an ethnic Romanian family, raised in Serbia, groomed in the Paris music circle before relocating to New York, if anything, provide a strong metaphor for Ionel Petroi‘s “Musique Relative.” What came first the relative identity or the music? Is this latter the emanation of the former? In this long overdue memoir, Ivanka Stoïanova, a musicologist with worldwide experience, explores the relative journey of this complex modern, contemporary musician. Ivanka’s pointed questions allow Petroi to unravel himself in many unexpected ways. But always with sincerity and humility. We follow him from his humble beginning playing accordion in Serbian villages to his rise at the Paris Conservatory of Music, through his meetings and conversations with likes of Boulez and Ionesco, and scoring half-tone pieces for various ensembles, via the endless obsessive quest for honing and refining a personal musical style. Of course no journey, especially such an eclectic musician’s, would be complete without a little detour to visit his love of cinematic scores. This memoir spans a wide reaching scope of Petroi’s entire musical productivity to date. (Translated from the French by Frank Debonair.)