One of the emblematic figures of Romanian culture, George Enescu was a composer, violinist, pianist, conductor and pedagogue. He is considered the most important Romanian musician.
George (Gheorghe) Enescu was born on August 19, 1881 in Liveni-Vârnav (today the village is named after the musician) in Botosani County (northern Moldavia) and died on May 4, 1955 in Paris, France, at the age of 73.
Since childhood, he has shown a tremendous inclination for music, playing violin at age four, and at the age of five he participated in his first concert and began composing studies.
Between 1888 and 1894 he studied at the Conservatory in Vienna, taking both violin and composition classes. He was widely acclaimed by the public as well as by the press in his concerts in Vienna, although he was only 12 years old.
After graduating the Vienna Conservatory with a silver medal, George Enescu continued his studies at the Conservatory in Paris between 1895 and 1899.
On February 6, 1898, during a concert held in Paris, George Enescu debuted as a composer when his Romanian Poema symphony suite was performed in first audition. The composer was only 17 years old and the composition was written a year earlier.
His most famous compositions date from the first years of the twentieth century,like Rapsodia Română no. 1 in A major (1901), Rapsodia Română no. 2 in D major (1902), Suite no. 1 for orchestra op. 9 (1903) and Symphony no. 1 in E flat, op. 13 (1905).
A rather busy period followed, when his musical activity was manifest in Bucharest and Paris, but also in tours in other European capitals where he performed in concerts.
In 1913 George Enescu composed the Symphony no. 2 in A major op. 17, and in 1915 the Orchestra Suite no. 2.
On March 13, 1936, the world premiere of the opera Oedipus by George Enescu took place at the the Garnier Opera in Paris. It was a great success both among the audience and the critics. Oedipus is a lyrical tragedy in 4 acts, on a French-based libretto by Edmond Fleg, drawing on the Oedipus King and Oedipus at the Colonus ancient tragedies written by Sofocles. Enescu composed the opera from 1921 to 1931 and dedicated it to Maria Rosetti-Tescanu, who would later become his wife. This monumental work will be the culmination of the creation of George Enescu, considered by critics as one of the masterpieces of the 20th century dramatic music.
In the last years of his life he composed the string quartet Nr. 2, The Chamber Symphony for twelve solo instruments, completed the Vox Maris symphonic poem for soprano, tenor, chorus and orchestra, and sketched, in 1929, the Symphonies nr. 4 and nr. 5 which have remained unfinished.
But George Enescu was also a very well-known conductor, under whose wand famous orchestras of the world interpreted artistic works in original ways. The original masterpiece of the conductor was characterized by the depth of rendering of the meanings of the works, by a new conception of style, and by a sobriety braided with a suppleness and expressiveness of his gestures.
George Enescu’s international recognition as a complex and complete musician was also strengthened by his election as a member of important institutions in the world. Thus he was a corresponding member of the Academy of Fine Arts in Paris (1929), of the Academy of Santa Cecilia in Rome (1931), the French Institute in Paris (1936), the Academy of Sciences and Arts in Prague (1937), honorary member of the Romanian Academy (12 August 1948).
Starting with 1958, in the memory of the musician, the “George Enescu” Festival, a prestigious Romanian musical event, is organized.
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