George Enescu

Biography

Born: August 19, 1881; Liveni-Virnav, Romania   Died: May 4, 1955; Paris, France  
George Enescu is still considered the greatest of all Romanian composers. While he is widely known for just one famous opus, he was in reality a very imaginative, highly skilled composer of music possessing great depth and subtlety, as well as being one of the great concert violinists of his time. For appearances in the West he adapted his name to a form that would prompt the French to pronounce it correctly: Georges Enesco.

He was given
Read more a violin and lessons at the age of four, progressing very rapidly and beginning to compose a year later. Legend has it his first teacher was a Romany fiddler. He entered the conservatory of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna in 1888. His primary violin teacher was Joseph Hellmesberger. He took piano from Ernst Ludwig and harmony, theory, and composition from Robert Fuchs. He made his violin debut in 1889 in Slanic, Moravia. He remained in the Conservatory until 1894, regarded as a fully formed virtuoso at the age of 13. Nevertheless, he went on to the Paris Conservatory for more violin studies, and took harmony, theory, and composition from Dubois, Gédalge, Massenet, and Fauré. This mixture of late Romantic German and French training helped give his music its distinctive quality.

In 1897 the Concerts Colonne gave a concert of his works. The work he decided to designate as his first mature piece, the Poème Roumaine, Op. 1, premiered in 1898. That same year he started conducting the Romanian Philharmonic Society in Bucharest.

Enescu quickly established one of the most important solo and chamber music careers of the time. His recital partner was the great French pianist Alfred Cortot, and he formed a piano trio with Louis Fournier and Alfredo Casella in 1902, and in 1904 the Enescu Quartet. He joined the faculties of the École Normal and the American Conservatory in Paris.

In the meantime, he took an active part in building a classical concert life in his native Romania. He formed a Philharmonic Orchestra in the town of Iasi, and a Composers' Society. He wrote his most famous works, the two Romanian Rhapsodies, Op. 11, for the Philharmonic. He also worked closely with the Conservatories in Bucharest and Iasi. In 1912 he funded a "George Enescu Prize" in composition, and played the world premieres of the winning works.

He made his first appearances in the United States in 1923, as violinist and guest conductor with the Philadelphia Orchestra. The brilliant young American prodigy, Yehudi Menuhin, became his most famous pupil. Others were Gitlis, Grumiaux, and Ferras. Through the 1930s he continued work as a violinist, conductor, teacher, musicologist, and organizer, while as a composer he toiled on his powerful opera Oedipus.

When World War II broke out, he happened to be at his country estate in Romania and was more or less stuck there for the duration. After the war ended, he went to New York, where he watched a Soviet-backed government take over his country. He remained in New York, increasingly incapacitated by arthritis. He gave a farewell concert with Menuhin in 1950, then returned to Paris. He suffered a stroke in 1954. As a result of it, he spent ten months almost entirely paralyzed. Read less
Browse 1-10 of 10 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    Icon: The Early Years - Yehudi Menuhin
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 928129 Release Date: 01/28/2014   Number of Discs: 12
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Marius Casadesus,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin,  George Enescu,  Hephzibah Menuhin,  Hubert Giesen  ... 
    Conductor:  George Enescu,  Pierre Monteux,  Sir Malcolm Sargent,  Sir Edward Elgar  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Symphony Orchestra,  Orchestre de la Société du Conservatoire Paris,  Orchestre de Paris  ... 
    On sale! $56.98
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  • 2.
    Yehudi Menuhin, George Enescu Perform Mendelssohn, Dvorak, Wieniawki, Bach
    Label: Dutton Laboratories/Vocalion   Catalog: 1916 Release Date: 11/09/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Felix Mendelssohn,  Henri Wieniawski,  Antonín Dvorák,  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin,  George Enescu
    Conductor:  George Enescu,  Pierre Monteux
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Colonne Concerts Orchestra,  Paris Conservatoire Orchestra,  Paris Symphony Orchestra
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  • 3.
    Gorges Enescu - The Columbia Recordings
    Label: Opus Kura   Catalog: 2086 Release Date: 01/12/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  Gaetano Pugnani,  Arcangelo Corelli,  Ernest Chausson  ... 
    Performer:  Sanford Schlüssel,  George Enescu,  Celiny Chailley-Richez
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  • 4.
    Enescu: Violin Sonatas, Suites; Lipatti: Piano Works / Enescu, Lipatti
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 426100 Release Date: 02/06/2008   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Dinu Lipatti,  George Enescu
    Performer:  Dinu Lipatti,  George Enescu
    Conductor:  George Enescu,  Hans von Benda
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bucharest Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Chamber Orchestra
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  • 5.
    Bach: Violin Concertos, Chaconne / Yehudi Menuhin
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 391963 Release Date: 01/13/2008  
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin,  George Enescu
    Conductor:  Pierre Monteux,  George Enescu
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Symphony Orchestra
    On sale! $16.98
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  • 6.
    Bach: Violin Concertos, Etc / Menuhin, Enescu, Monteux, Et Al
    Label: Emi Great Recordings Of The Century   Catalog: 91962 Release Date: 09/18/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin,  George Enescu
    Conductor:  George Enescu,  Pierre Monteux
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Symphony Orchestra
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  • 7.
    Beethoven, Schumann, Mendelssohn / Georges Enesco
    Label: Opus Kura   Catalog: 7009 Release Date: 09/27/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Robert Schumann
    Performer:  Celiny Chailley-Richez,  George Enescu
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra
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  • 8.
    Poème - Violin Sonatas / Georges Enescu, Carl Flesch, Et Al
    Label: Opus Kura   Catalog: 2005 Release Date: 06/25/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Manuel de Falla,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  George Frideric Handel,  Arcangelo Corelli  ... 
    Performer:  Ignace Strasfogel,  Karl Flesch,  Felix Dyck,  George Enescu  ... 
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  • 9.
    Paganini: Violin Concerto No 1, Etc / Yehudi Menuhin
    Label: Emi Classics Special Import   Catalog: 65959 Release Date: 05/01/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Niccolò Paganini
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin,  Ferguson Webster,  Marcel Gazelle,  George Enescu  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Monteux
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Symphony Orchestra
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  • 10.
    Bach: Violin Concertos / Menuhin, Enescu, Monteaux, Paris So
    Label: Emi Classics Références   Catalog: 67201 Release Date: 01/11/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin,  George Enescu
    Conductor:  George Enescu,  Pierre Monteux
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Symphony Orchestra
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