Violeta Dinescu was born in Bucharest in 1953. After graduating from secondary school with natural sciences as her main subject, she began musical studies in 1972 at the Ciprian Porumbescu Conservatory (now the National Music University of Bucharest). She has remained close to many of her former teachers. Together with the ethnomusicologist Emilia Comișel, she undertook field research into Romania’s highly diverse folk repertoire. To this day, the traditional music of her homeland, along with Byzantine Orthodox church music, remains a significant source of inspiration.
Dinescu completed her training in 1976, earning diplomas (with honours) in composition, piano and pedagogy. After that, through the auspices of the George Enesco sponsorship programme, she studied composition in Bucharest for a year with Myriam Marbé, who became one of her most important teachers. From 1978 to 1982, she herself taught music theory, musical aesthetics and piano at the George Enescu Music School in Bucharest. In 1980 she became a member of the Rumanian Composers Association. Concerts, prizes and radio recordings brought her increasing prominence. Dinescu also published journalistic and scholarly articles.
On Myriam Marbé’s recommendation, she also participated in international composers’ competitions and on her first attempt won a prize in Mannheim. While staying in Germany for the awards presentation, she received a three-month grant for which she attempted to extend her visa. Although the Romanian embassy declined her application, Dinescu accepted the grant and afterwards was reluctant to return to Romania.
Thus her brief visit turned into permanent residence in Germany, where she has lived since 1982 and quickly established herself. She studied musicology with Ludwig Finscher and taught at the University of Protestant Music in Heidelberg, the University of Music and Performing Arts in Frankfurt and the Academy for Protestant Church Music in Bayreuth. Her growing recognition was attested to by performances of her music, radio broadcasts, lectures, workshops and courses at institutions in Germany and abroad – including various universities in the USA – as well as by commissions for new works.
In 1996, Violeta Dinescu was appointed professor of applied composition at the Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg. There she initiated an international composers colloquium series which still exists and has meanwhile been integrated with teaching. Also in 1996, she founded an archive for Eastern European music with a focus on Romania. Since 2006, in cooperation with the Institute for Advanced Studies in Delmenhorst, she has held a symposium series called Zwischen Zeiten (Shifting Times). She has by no means severed her ties with her homeland and for decades has collaborated intensively with the renowned Romanian ensemble Trio Contraste.
She has received several international awards for her compositions, including first prize at the International Competition for Composers (Utah, 1983) the Carl Maria von Weber Prize (Leipzig, 1985), the Baldreit Prize (Baden-Baden, 1991) and the New York University Prize for Composition. She is also the recipient of various grants. Violeta Dinescu’s works, which have appeared on numerous CDs, encompass music of the most diverse genres and performing forces. She has served on many commissions and juries, and in 2017 became a member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts.