George Enescu

George Enescu (August 19, 1881, Liveni – May 4, 1955, Paris), Romanian composer, violinist, pianist, conductor and teacher, preeminent musician of the 20th century, and one of the greatest performers of his time.

Enescu was born in the village of Liveni, Romania (Dorohoi County at the time, today Botoşani County), and showed musical talent from early in his childhood. At the age of five he received his first musical instruction from his local teacher and at seven his father sent him to Vienna to study at the Conservatory where, only four years later, he was awarded the grand medal of honor. His violin teacher was Joseph Hellmesberger Jr., he also studied composition and harmony with Robert Fuchs. At the age of 14 he went to Paris to study at the Conservatoire National with Jules Massenet, André Gédalge, Gabriel Fauré and Armand Marsieck.

In 1898, Enescu's Op. 1, the Poème Roumain (Romanian Poem), was performed for the first time in Paris at the Concerts Colonne, becoming a huge success; the same year, George Enescu had his first public appearance as a conductor, performing his own Poème Roumain at the Romanian Athenaeum in Bucharest. This year also marks the beginning of his outstanding career as violinist, that will lead him through Europe and America.

During World War I Enescu stayed in Romania. Before and after that war he made numerous concert tours in Europe and traveled to the United States. He played Beethoven with Felix Weingartner, conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Orchestra of the New York Philharmonic Society, and appeared together with Béla Bartók.

From 1927 on he choose France as his second home. He appeared with many musicians. He conducted the Paris Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestre de l'association des concerts Colonne. He also performed and conducted in other European countries. In those years Enesco taught both in Romania and in France. He again travelled to North America to appear in front of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in the 1936-37 season, not long after the premiere of Oedipe, the opera on which Enesco worked for merely ten years, leaving hardly any time to write other music, except for Symphony No. 2. During World War II the maestro stayed in Romania, but after the war and the Soviet occupation of Romania, he remained in Paris. On January 21st, 1950, George Enescu gave a farewell-concert in New York, performing as a violinist, as a pianist and as a conductor. After that his health did not allow him to play the violin any longer, but he still was able to conduct from time to time. He died on May 4th, 1955 in Paris.

Perfection, which is the passion of so many people, does not interest me. What is important in art is to vibrate oneself and make others vibrate. (George Enescu)