George Enescu (Romanian pronunciation: [ˈd͡ʒe̯ord͡ʒe eˈnesku]; known in France as Georges Enesco; 19 August 1881, Liveni – 4 May 1955, Paris) was a Romanian composer, violinist, pianist, conductor and teacher.
He was born in the village of Liveni (later renamed "George Enescu" in his honor), Dorohoi County at the time, today Botoşani County. He showed musical talent from early in his childhood. A child prodigy, Enescu created his first musical composition at the age of five. Shortly thereafter, his father presented him to the professor and composer Eduard Caudella. At the age of seven, he entered the Vienna Conservatory, where he studied with Joseph Hellmesberger, Jr., Robert Fuchs, and Sigismund Bachrich. He graduated before his 13th birthday, earning the silver medal. In his Viennese concerts young Enescu played works by Brahms, Sarasate and Mendelssohn. In 1895 he went to Paris to continue his studies. He studied violin with Martin Pierre Marsick, harmony with André Gédalge, and composition with Jules Massenet and Gabriel Fauré.
Many of Enescu's works were influenced by Romanian folk music, his most popular compositions being the two Romanian Rhapsodies (1901–2), the opera Œdipe (1936), and the suites for orchestra. He also wrote five symphonies (two of them unfinished), a symphonic poem Vox maris, and much chamber music (three sonatas for violin and piano, two for cello and piano, a piano trio, quartets with and without piano, a wind decet (French, "dixtuor"), an octet for strings, a piano quintet and a chamber symphony for twelve solo instruments). A young Ravi Shankar recalled in the 1960s how Enescu, who had developed a deep interest in Oriental music, rehearsed with Shankar's brother Uday Shankar and his musicians. Around the same time, Enescu took the young Yehudi Menuhin to the Colonial Exhibition in Paris, where he introduced him to the Gamelan Orchestra from Indonesia.
George Enescu Museum (Cantacuzino Palace), Bucharest
In 1923 he made his debut as a conductor in a concert given by the Philadelphia Orchestra in New York City, and he subsequently made frequent returns to the United States. It was in America, in the 1920s, that Enescu was first persuaded to make recordings as a violinist. He also appeared as a conductor with many American orchestras, and in 1936 he was one of the candidates considered to replace Toscanini as permanent conductor of the New York Philharmonic. In 1935, he conducted the Orchestre Symphonique de Paris and Yehudi Menuhin (who had been his pupil for several years starting in 1927) in Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 3 in G major. He also conducted the New York Philharmonic between 1937 and 1938. In 1939 he married Maria Rosetti (known as the Princess Cantacuzino through her first husband Mihail Cantacuzino), a good friend of the future Queen Marie of Romania. While staying in Bucharest, Enescu lived in the Cantacuzino Palace on Calea Victoriei (now the Muzeu Naţional George Enescu, dedicated to his work).
He lived in Paris and in Romania, but after World War II and the Soviet occupation of Romania, he remained in Paris.
He was also a noted violin teacher. Yehudi Menuhin, Christian Ferras, Ivry Gitlis, Arthur Grumiaux, and Ida Haendel were among his pupils. He promoted contemporary Romanian music, playing works of Constantin Silvestri, Mihail Jora, Ionel Perlea and Marţian Negrea.
He was a National Patron of Delta Omicron, an international professional music fraternity.
On his death in 1955, George Enescu was interred in the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.
Today, Bucharest houses a museum in his memory; likewise, the Symphony Orchestra of Bucharest and the George Enescu Festival—founded by his friend, musical advocate, and sometime collaborator, the conductor George Georgescu—are named and held in his honor. Recently, Bacau International Airport was named George Enescu International Airport.
The famous Ysaye's "Ballade" or Solo Violin Sonata No. 3 was dedicated to Enescu.
- For a complete list, see List of compositions by George Enescu.
- Œdipe, tragédie lyrique in four acts, libretto by Edmond Fleg, op. 23 (1910–31)
Other Orchestral Works
Other Chamber Works
- Octet for Strings in C major, op. 7 (1900)
- Dixtuor in D major, for wind instruments, op. 14 (1906)
- Piano Quartet No. 1 in D major, op. 16 (1909)
- Impressions d'Enfance in D major, for violin and piano, op. 28 (1940)
- Piano Quintet in A minor, op. 29 (1940)
- Piano Quartet No. 2 in D minor, op. 30 (1943–44)
- Chamber Symphony, for 12 instruments, op. 33 (1954)
- Concertstück, for viola and piano (1906)
- Légende, for trumpet and piano (1906)
- Cantabile et Presto, for flute and piano (1904)
Three songs setting Lemaitre and Prudhomme Four songs setting Fernand Gregh In German: Various settings of Carmen Silva (Queen Marie of Romania) In Romanian - 3 songs
- Axente, Colette, and Ileana Ratiu. 1998. George Enescu: Biografie documentara, tineretea si afirmarea: 1901-1920. Bucharest: Editura muzicala a U.C.M.R.
- Bentoiu, Pascal. 1984. Capodopere enesciene. Bucharest: Editura muzicala a U.C.M.R.
- Brediceanu, M. et al. 1997. Celebrating George Enescu: A Symposium. Washington, D.C.:.
- Gheorghiu, V. 1944. Un Muzician Genial: George Enescu.
- Cophignon, Alain. 2006. Georges Enesco. Bibliothèque des grands compositeurs. Paris: Librairie Arthème Fayard. ISBN 978-2213623214
- Cosma, Viorel. 2000. George Enescu: A Tragic Life in Pictures. Bucharest: The Romanian Cultural Foundation Publishing House.
- Malcolm, Noel. 1990. George Enescu: His Life and Music, with a preface by Sir Yehudi Menuhin. London: Toccata Press. ISBN 0907689329 (cloth); ISBN 0907689337 (pbk)
- Malcolm, Noel. 2001. "Enescu, George." The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. S. Sadie and J. Tyrrell. London: Macmillan.
- Roth, Henry. 1997. Violin Virtuosos (from Paganini to the 21st Century). ISBN 1-8879395-15-0
- Slonimsky, Nicolas (ed.). 2001. "Georges Enesco." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. Centennial Edition. New York: Schirmer Books.
- Voicana, Mircea, Clemansa Firca, Alfred Hoffman, Elena Zottoviceanu, in collaboration with Myriam Marbe, Stefan Niculescu, and Adrian Ratiu. 1971. George Enescu: Monografie. 2 vols. Bucharest: Editura Academiei Republicii Socialiste România.
- Voicana, Mircea (ed.) 1976. Enesciana, I.. (in Fr., Ger., and Eng.)