George Enescu


Romanian composer, violinist, pianist and conductor • 1881-1955

Short biography

Georges Enesco • Romanian composer, violinist, pianist and conductor (b. 1881, Liveni-Vîrnav, near Dorohoi – d. 1955, Paris). Enesco was a total musician with rich and multiple gifts. An eminent teacher of the violin, his pupils included Yehudi Menuhin.


His brilliance as a performer has all too often led to the profound originality of his compositions being forgotten. In his works, Enesco was inspired by the folk music of his native climes, but his evolution reflected a progressive tendency to employ it in a sublimated way. Folk music still plays a picturesque part in the two Romanian Rhapsodies (1901). But shortly thereafter, it is better-controlled in the First Symphony (1905), which makes use of the polyphonic language of the late nineteenth century, and the idiom of Brahms in particular, with perfect mastery, but without academism, and then in the Second Sonata for Violin and Piano (1899), Octet (1900), Dixtuor (1906), which achieve an original synthesis of inspiration nurtured on the great classical and romantic traditions, on the one hand, and song drawn from folk sources, on the other.


But it is in the Third Sonata for Violin and Piano “in the Romanian folk style” (1926) that Enesco’s genius truly shines: here, folk music is sublimated, the song of the violin, wholly invented, erupts as if in free improvisation, more impassioned even than that of the lăutari who had cradled the composer’s childhood. Although in his rhapsodies Enesco argues for the adoption of unaltered folk melodies, later, after arriving at the method of “creating in the Romanian folk style,” he was to adopt not themes, but another kind of feature: diatonic and chromatic modes, melodic and cadence cells, rhythmic structures, tempos, principles of acoustic organisation, manners of performance, and timbre traits.

George Enescu


The fiddler from Childhood Impressions suite • Composition: George Enescu; Performance: Mircea Dumitrescu – violin

Romanian Radio Hall, Bucharest, 2018