George Enescu


George Enescu (1881-1955) composer, violinist, pianist, conductor and teacher preeminent musician of the 20th century; one of the greatest interprets of his time.


1881: On the 19th of August he is born in Liveni-Varnav (today Geoge Enescu), Botosani county, few kilometers away from the place where Mihai Eminescu was born in 1850. His father, Costache, who had a great memory, learning Latin and French by himself, was playing the violin and sometimes conducted a local choir.
- He shows very early his extraordinary gifts for music. He learns how to play the violin from a virtuous gipsy.
1886: At the age of five takes place his first concert. His father presents him to the professor and composer Eduard Caudella who admits him at the Conservatory from Iasi. Due to his extraordinary talent he was guided to follow his studies at the Conservatory from Wien. Here he studies with great professors as Hellmesberger father and son, Robert Fuchs, and Sigismond Bachrich.
1893: In his Viennesse concerts young George Enescu plays Brahms, Sarasate, Vieuxtemps, and Mendelssohn. He discovers also the great operas: Verdi, Mozart, Wagner, Massenet, Donizetti, Gounod... and the operettas of d'Hervé, Sullivan, Johann Strauss, and Delibes. He is granted the silver medal of the Viennesse Conservatory.
1895: He goes to Paris to continue his studies. He studies violin with Marsick, harmony with André Geldage, and composition with Massenet. His classmates in Paris were Maurice Ravel, Roger-Ducasse, and Florent Schmitt. He was the first foreign student in Paris who obtained the golden medal.
- The student George Enescu is already a fertile composer. During these years he composed four symphonies, his first works for chamber, and the symphonic suite "Romanian Poem" presented with big success on the 6th of February 1898. The press in Paris calls him "the new Mozart".
- From now on his works are largely presented to the public. The greatest interprets play his "Romanian Rapsodies" (1901 - 1902), his first suite for orchestra (1903) and his first simphony (1905): Edouard Colonne and Gabriel Pierné in France, Gustav Mahler and Walter Damrosh in New York, Arthur Fiedler in Boston, Henry Wood in England, Willem Mengelberg in the Netherlands. But his style, more and more elaborated, starts to be rejected by interprets.
- He starts to play also piano and to conduct. He joins Alfredo Casella, Pablo Casals, Oscar Nedbal, Gabriel Fauré, Richard Strauss in their concerts.
1909: Starts a tour throughout Europe including even Russia.
1913: In Romania he conducts the premieres of Maîtres Chanteurs and the Voyage of Siegfried on the Rhine of Wagner. He creates his second symphony.
- During the First World War he lives in Romania.
1915: He composed his 12th suite for orchestra. Takes place the first edition of the "George Enescu contest".
- Once the war finished, George Enescu shares his life between Romania and France. He continues his concerts, but the didactic side of his career is getting more importance. Dinu Lipatti (1917-1950), one of the most talented piano players of the century, and Yehudi Menuhin (1916-1999), a brilliant violinist, are two of his students.
1924: Participates at the premiere of Bela Bartok's second sonate for violin and piano, together with its composer playing piano.
- Despite his exhausting concerts program he composes some his most representative works: the third sonate for violin and piano of Romanian folk inspiration (1926), the Oedip opera (1923 - 1930), sonates for piano (1924 - 1934), the third suite for orchestra (1938).
- When the Second World War started, George Enescu came back to Romania. He actively engaged in the Bucharest's musical life. He initiates a Beethoven quartets concerts cycle. He conducts Fauré's requiem and the seventh symphonie n° 7 "Leningrad" of Chostakovich. He is also a promoter of the contyemporary Romanian music, playing works of Constantin Silvestri, Mihail Jora, Ionel Perlea, Martian Negrea, and Sabin Dragoi. He composes less; the only works of this decade are the childhood impressions for violin and piano (1940, dedicated to his professor Eduard Caudella), the quartet with piano no.2 (1944) and the overture for concert with traditional Romanian motifs (1948).
- After the war, he starts his concerts with his friends David Oistrakh, Lev Oborin, Emil Ghilels, and with his former students Yehudi Menuhin and Dinu Lipatti.
1948: The communist regime nationalizes some of his properties. He goes in exile definitively.
1954: He composes a chamber symphony for twelve soloist instruments.
1955: He dies during the night on the 3rd/4th of May.