Mihaela Ursuleasa – A Loss in PCMS’ Extended Family

By Miles Cohen on August 6, 2012

One of the wonderful qualities of PCMS is the feeling that every musician and patron who performs or attends a concert becomes part of our extended family. Some of our especially enthusiastic friends come together 60+ times every year; others visit us a few times each season. For everyone attending or performing, we strive to create an environment that is down-to-earth, and as close to home as we can make it. When we lose someone from this extended family, those of us (like myself) who have been with the Society for over a decade feel a deep sense of sadness to have to say goodbye to those with whom we have shared the PCMS experience.

Mihaela Ursuleasa

On March 28, 2008, as part of our Philadelphia Museum of Art Series, we presented an extraordinary young pianist from Romania (just 29 years old at the time) named Mihaela Ursuleasa. Last Thursday, Mihaela passed away from a cerebral hemorrhage at age 33. All of us at PCMS were really shaken by this news. Those of you who were fortunate enough to be at her recital (of works by Schumann, Rachmaninov and Medtner) will remember that not only did Mihaela display superb technique, she played each work with an impassioned, thoughtful style that was all her own. We tried to re-engage Mihaela two years later–but suffering from physical ailments, she was unable to return. Tony and I had recently discussed re-connecting with her to see if she could come back for another recital in 2013-14. Her travel schedule was limited, however, as she was the mother of a young child.

Tony, Philip and I first became friends with Mihaela during her two summers at Marlboro Music in Vermont in 2002 and 2003. In those years I remember a young lady so full of life and eager to read, study and learn any repertoire she could get her hands on. Attending Marlboro was her first extended stay in the US, and although her English was not perfect, she was a vibrant member of the community and enthusiastic about all her Marlboro activities–whether in the rehearsal room, on stage (a powerful, heartfelt performance of Ravel’s Piano Trio with Tai Murray and Marcy Rosen I shall never forget), in the dining hall, or just around campus.

Her sudden and untimely death has left us all at a loss for words, but several patrons have emailed to ask that we share a few memories. At the bottom of the story by Norman Lebrecht are several comments by people posting their thoughts on Mihaela’s passing. I think the first one by Mr. Biegel perfectly sums up how all of us at PCMS feel:  “How terribly tragic and sad it is to lose someone so gifted and so young, who brought so much beauty to the world through her extraordinary musical talents.”  She will be remembered fondly by the PCMS family.