George Enescu

Romanian composer. Born 19 August 1881. Died 4 May 1955
George Enescu
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1881-08-19
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George Enescu

George Enescu Biography (BBC)

Pablo Casals called George Enescu ‘the greatest musical phenomenon since Mozart’. During his lifetime he was most famous as a violinist, pianist and conductor, internationally celebrated for his interpretation of the classics.

As a composer, he was best known for a few early, colourfully ‘nationalist’ scores such as the Romanian Rhapsodies. Yet he considered himself a composer first and foremost, and his mature works – drawing on the rich heritage of Romanian gypsy music – have a sophistication and individuality that show him the equal of those other East European masters Bartók, Kodály, Janácek, Martinu and Szymanowski.

Enescu was born in Liveni Vîrnav, Romania, and entered the Vienna Conservatory at the age of 7, graduating with distinction as a violinist at the age of 10. Subsequently he played in orchestras under Brahms and in 1892 entered the Paris Conservatoire as a pupil of Massenet and Fauré and a fellow-student of Ravel. Within six years he had won first prize for violin at the Conservatoire as well as writing four symphonies and premiering his own Violin Concerto. He came to regard these as mere ‘school’ works and began numbering his compositions from the symphonic suite Poème roumain, Op. 1, premiered to great acclaim in Paris and Bucharest while he was still a student.

After his graduation Enescu lived a busy life as a performer, based in Paris but with frequent visits back to Romania. He was selfless in his generosity to his contemporaries and performed a great deal with such friends as Casals, Thibaud, Cortot, Kreisler and Ysaÿe. He spent the First World War in Romania, teaching at the Bucharest Conservatory and the Conservatory at Ias, where in 1917 he founded the George Enescu Symphony Orchestra.

He resumed his international career between the wars, and married the mentally unstable Princess Maruca Cantacuzino, for whom he cared for the rest of his life. His summers were devoted to composing.

The Second World War was again spent in Romania, where Enescu did what he could to try and shield gypsies and Jews from the pogroms of the Nazi occupation. Following the Communist seizure of power in Romania after the war, he returned to Paris, where he lived until his death. Although he visited the Dartington Festival in the late 1940s and was still considered a peerless interpreter of Beethoven and Bach, Enescu’s last years were spent in poverty and crippling pain, the result of a chronic curvature of the spine and a severe stroke.

Enescu was dedicated to the encouragement of young musicians. His pupils included his godson and especial protégé Dinu Lipatti, as well as Yehudi Menuhin, Arthur Grumiaux, Christian Ferras and Ida Haendel. As a composer he was not only inspired by Romanian folklore but also drew veins of Impressionism, post-Wagnerian chromaticism and Fauré-like aristocratic intricacy into a rich and unique synthesis. He founded no school and was internationalist in outlook; but after his death the Communist regime in Romania promoted him as a nationalist composer, diminishing his reputation as an original in his own right.

© Calum MacDonals




Featured Works


George Enescu Tracks

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George Enescu
Chamber Symphony for 12 instruments, Op 33
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Chamber Symphony for 12 instruments, Op 33
George Enescu
Isis - Symphonic Poem
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Isis - Symphonic Poem
George Enescu
Romanian Rhapsody No 1 in A major, Op 11
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Romanian Rhapsody No 1 in A major, Op 11
George Enescu
Violin Sonata torso, from incomplete Sonata
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Violin Sonata torso, from incomplete Sonata
George Enescu
Romanian Rhapsody, Op 11 No 1
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Romanian Rhapsody, Op 11 No 1
George Enescu
Bourrée from Piano Suite in D major, Op.10
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Bourrée from Piano Suite in D major, Op.10
George Enescu
Aria and Scherzino
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Aria and Scherzino

Aria and Scherzino

Performer
Remus Azoitei
Ensemble
Schubert Ensemble of London
George Enescu
Ballade, Op.4
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Ballade, Op.4

Ballade, Op.4

Performer
Razvan Stoica
Andrea Stoica
George Enescu
Suite no. 1 in C major Op.9 for orchestra i Prelude a l'unison; ii Menuet lent
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Suite no. 1 in C major Op.9 for orchestra i Prelude a l'unison; ii Menuet lent
George Enescu
Romanian Rhapsody No 1 in A major, Op 11
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Romanian Rhapsody No 1 in A major, Op 11
George Enescu
Concertstuck for viola and piano (1906)
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Concertstuck for viola and piano (1906)
George Enescu
Sonata in A Minor No3 op. 25: Allegro malinconico
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Sonata in A Minor No3 op. 25: Allegro malinconico
George Enescu
Barcarolle in B Flat Major
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Barcarolle in B Flat Major
George Enescu
2 Romanian Rhapsodies, Op. 11: No. 1 in A Major
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2 Romanian Rhapsodies, Op. 11: No. 1 in A Major
George Enescu
Impressions from Childhood, Op. 28
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Impressions from Childhood, Op. 28
George Enescu
Octet for strings in C Op. 7: iv. Movement de valse
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Octet for strings in C Op. 7: iv. Movement de valse
George Enescu
Romanian rhapsody no. 1 in A major Op.11`1
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Romanian rhapsody no. 1 in A major Op.11`1
George Enescu
Cantabile and Presto
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Cantabile and Presto
George Enescu
Romanian Rhapsody No. 1 in A major (Op.11 no.1)
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Romanian Rhapsody No. 1 in A major (Op.11 no.1)
George Enescu
Konzertstuck in F for viola and piano (1906)
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Konzertstuck in F for viola and piano (1906)
George Enescu
Prélude à l'unisson
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Prélude à l'unisson
George Enescu
Impromptu in A-Flat Major
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Impromptu in A-Flat Major

Impromptu in A-Flat Major

Performer
Josu De Solaun
George Enescu
Suite No 1 (Prelude a l'unisson)
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Suite No 1 (Prelude a l'unisson)
George Enescu
Carillon Nocturne Opus 18
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Carillon Nocturne Opus 18
George Enescu
Légende
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Légende
Johann Sebastian Bach
Concerto in D minor for two violins, BWV 1043 (2nd mvt)
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Concerto in D minor for two violins, BWV 1043 (2nd mvt)
George Enescu
Romanian Rhapsody No.1 in A major (Op.11 No.1)
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Romanian Rhapsody No.1 in A major (Op.11 No.1)
George Enescu
Romanian Rhapsody No 1
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Romanian Rhapsody No 1
George Enescu
Trio no. 1 in G minor
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Trio no. 1 in G minor
George Enescu
Serenade lointaine
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Serenade lointaine

Serenade lointaine

Ensemble
Trio Enescu
Last played on
George Enescu
Wind Decet, Op 14 (2nd mvt)
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Wind Decet, Op 14 (2nd mvt)
George Enescu
Romanian Rhapsody No 1
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Romanian Rhapsody No 1
George Enescu
Violin Sonata No.3 in A minor, Op. 25 'dans le caractère populaire roumain': Allegro con brio
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Violin Sonata No.3 in A minor, Op. 25 'dans le caractère populaire roumain': Allegro con brio
George Enescu
Cantabile et presto
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Cantabile et presto
George Enescu
Orchestral Suite No 3 in D major, Op 27, 'Villageoise' (5th mvt)
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Orchestral Suite No 3 in D major, Op 27, 'Villageoise' (5th mvt)
George Enescu
Romanian Rhapsody no 1 in A major, Op 11 no 1
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Romanian Rhapsody no 1 in A major, Op 11 no 1

Romanian Rhapsody no 1 in A major, Op 11 no 1

Orchestra
Romanian Radio National Orchestra
Conductor
Vlad Conta
George Enescu
2 Romanian Rhapsodies, Op. 11: No. 1 in A Major
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2 Romanian Rhapsodies, Op. 11: No. 1 in A Major
George Enescu
Symphonie concertante in B minor for cello & orchestra, Op 8
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Symphonie concertante in B minor for cello & orchestra, Op 8

Symphonie concertante in B minor for cello & orchestra, Op 8

Performer
Zlatomir Fung
Orchestra
George Enescu Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor
Alexander Bloch
George Enescu
Romanian Rhapsody No 1
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Romanian Rhapsody No 1
George Enescu
Impressions d'enfance Op.28 for violin and piano - i. Menetrier [The fiddler]
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Impressions d'enfance Op.28 for violin and piano - i. Menetrier [The fiddler]
George Enescu
Violin Sonata no 3 in A minor, 3rd movement
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Violin Sonata no 3 in A minor, 3rd movement
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