George Enescu

Posted by: AndrewG

George Enescu - 08/16/02 09:07 AM

August marks this great Romanian musician's birthday. His name was seldom mentioned on this board. His humongous music talents need to be known to the wide classical music public. His piano compositions are of the highest calibre yet remain mostly unknown to us. The only Enescu piano music recording I know off is Sonata No.3 by Lipatti. I do have his complete orchestral recordings which are more than worthy to track down. Of his significant piano output the Suite for Piano, Op.10 is top-notch stuff. Here is a short bio of this amazing man:

George Enescu

The Romanian composer George Enescu is one of the neglected giants of modern music. Prodigiously gifted, he became best
known in America as a conductor (where he was considered as a successor to Toscanini in New York) and in Europe as one of
the greatest violinists of the century. But he was first and foremost a composer; and, tragically, his mature works - works of
extraordinary emotional depth and intricate beauty - remain virtually unknown outside Romania.

George Enescu was said by Pablo Casals to be "the most amazing musician since Mozart", a statement which in many respects
was true. He achieved international renown as a composer, violinist, pianist, conductor and teacher and he displayed genius in
each of these disciplines. He possessed a phenomenal memory and knew the entire repertoire of classical and romantic music by
heart, in addition to many works of the twentieth century, with which one of his generations might well have been though
unsympathetic. Apart from these superlative gifts, Enescu was a man of humility; he was a profound teacher (counting Yehudi
Menuhin and Dinu Lipatti amongst his pupils) who impressed every musician who met him.

He was born in 19 August 1881 in Liveni, Romania. So gifted was he that, aged only seven, he entered the Vienna Conservatoire
as an accomplished violinist, determined to be a composer. Enescu never forgot his home, set amidst Carpathian peaks, and
graduated with distinction from Conservatoire before his 11th birthday. He had played on the first desk of an orchestra under
Brahms in the latter's C minor Symphony and accompanying Brahms in his First Piano Concerto. Brahms was a lifelong hero, as
was Wagner (indicating Enescu's broad sympathies) who became, as he sad, "part of my vascular system". Enescu was at the
Vienna premiere of Massenet's Werther in 1892 and he entered the Paris Conservatoire, studying composition with Massenet.
When the boy was only 13, Massenet wrote to Enescu's father, "Your son is an exceptional individual; his is the most
interesting musical constitution there can be". Enescu displayed a command of large-scale form: by the age of 16 he had
written four Study Symphonies and had also given the premiere of his Violin Concerto in Paris in 1886. Amongst a distinguished
orchestral output, Enescu left eleven symphonic works: four Study Symphonies written between 1895-1898 and five mature
symphonies (the Fourth and Fifth are unfinished) plus a Concert Symphony for cello and orchestra and a Chamber Symphony. He
often lived in Paris, travelling widely, but returned to Romania for several lengthy periods, remaining there throughout World War
II. After died in 4 May 1955, his hometown of Liveni was renamed George Enescu.
Posted by: Tavner

Re: George Enescu - 08/25/02 09:48 PM

thanks for the info on Enescu. Very interesting. I had heard he was an incredible prodigy but didn't realize his connection to Brahms and Massenet. I've always liked his orchestral music. Can you tell me who does the complete set you have? Also, is the Suite, Op.10 published? Thanks!
Posted by: shantinik

Re: George Enescu - 08/26/02 01:42 PM

I consider his 3rd violin sonata (Opus 26) one of the greatest chamber works of the 20th century (and better than anything Bartok wrote in that idiom.) There is an excellent recording on Biddulph of the Sonata played by the young Menuhin and his sister, under the supervision of Enescu himself. This recording also has most of Enescu's own recorded violin output, including the finest reading of Handel's 4th Sonata on record. Enescu's violin playing is quite surreal, much different than the more easily approachable and genial playing of Kreisler, but just as monumental.

There is also a marvelous recording of Menuhin and Enescu doing the Bach double together! (which also includes Menuhin doing the other Bach solo concerti, with Enescu conducting.)
Posted by: Pianorak

Re: George Enescu - 09/10/02 03:55 AM

Arte Nova (7432149145 2) has published a 4 CD set of Enescu's orchestral works. Also worth listening to: String Quartets 1 and 2 on Naxos; Violin Sonata on Hyperion; Octet op. 7 and Quintet op. 29 on Nonesuch (79682).

Noel Malcom has written an excellent biography of George Enescu.