One of the greatest things about being an artist is that there are few limits to how far you can explore and how much you can accomplish. Gheorghe Costinescu was a great explorer of his craft, transcending the boundaries of genre and always embarking on the path towards perfection. Today, we reflect on Costinescu’s life and his contributions to our artistic world. 

Born in Bucharest in 1934, Costinescu was an active composer, conductor, pianist, musicologist, and educator throughout his life, residing in New York from 1969 until his passing on July 11, 2023.

After studying privately with Pascal Bentoiu and earning an M.A. in composition from the Bucharest Conservatory under Mihail Jora, he continued his studies with Karlheinz Stockhausen in Cologne and Luciano Berio at the Juilliard School in New York, where he received a Post Graduate Diploma. In 1976 he received a Ph.D. with Distinction from Columbia University, where he studied with Chou Wen-chung.

His chamber, choral, orchestral, and stage works have been performed in major cities in Europe and the United States, and at the Royan, Shiraz–Persepolis, and Tanglewood festivals. His stage work The Musical Seminar, a winner in the League-ISCM National Composers Competition, was premiered at Lincoln Center in New York City. The European premiere took place at the State Opera of Stuttgart, and the British premiere at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow.

Costinescu held teaching positions at The Juilliard School, Columbia University, and the New School for Social Research. In 1982, he joined the faculty and subsequently directed the electronic music program at Lehman College of the City University of New York, where he became Professor Emeritus of Music in 2003.


Costinescu made his Ravello Records debut in 2013 with the release of JUBLIUS AND PANTOMIME, a full-length DVD performance of the acclaimed composers’ works performed by The Ensemble Sospeso at New York City’s Miller Theatre. This live recording presents two of Costinescu’s celebrated works, which have been praised as “deeply felt music” with “vitality and originality.


Costinescu’s second Ravello Records release features four works for solo piano in which the composer explores the transition of these idioms from Baroque to 21st-century contemporary, charting the evolution of form and technique with a deft control of style. Cotenescu’s writing on AN EVOLVING CYCLE is brought to life by Stephen Gosling, a pianist hailed as “brilliant,” “luminous and poised” by The New York Times.


Costinescu released his final project with Ravello Records in late 2016. ANIMATED SOUNDS showcases works by Costinescu from a varied and illustrious career spanning more than half a century, a multimedia release spanning traditional classical forms, organic movements of Tai Chi, theatrical, self-reflexive works, and more.

We weren’t the only admirers of Costinescu’s music. Join us in reflection as we look back at the many positive ways in which the world viewed and understood this great artist’s work.

“Costinescu’s music serves to augment verbal description. It is a kind of thesaurus in sound – providing a musical enhancement when words will not quite suffice.”
– Bernard Holland, The New York Times
“…a composer with a rare range of creativity.”
– New York Classical Review

Of “VOICES WITHIN for solo violin (1989)” The Washington Post wrote: “…a work of remarkable passion and invention. …sophisticated magic.”

– Ed Roberts, The Washington Post

Of SONATA FOR THE PIANO (1957, revised 2007-08), the New York Classical Review wrote: “the music puts what feels like dense experience and powerful intellect into exhilarating, physical action.”

– George Grella, New York Classical Review

Of THE MUSICAL SEMINAR, The Boston Globe wrote: “… a one of a kind, exhilarating and marvelously flaky work of genius.”

– Richard Buell, The Boston Globe