George Enescu

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

George Enescu

This past August 19 was the 138th anniversary of the birth of the great Romanian composer , violinist, conductor and teacher, George Enescu (1881-1955), whose musical legacy is still drawing ever-increasing attention and appreciation. The number of his compositions is very large and ranges through most classical forms. His own recordings as a violinist and conductor are easily accessed via YouTube, CD transfers and other sources.

Recently, I have been listening to YouTubes of him conducting his 2nd Romanian Rhapsody, itself more lyrical and less brash than the first; and participating in his Octet for Strings with eight colleagues, both of them recorded and released in the U.S. on very cheap Remington LPs. He recorded his 3rd Violin Sonata, one of very haunting beauty, with Romanian pianist, Dinu Lipatti, who died very young of leukemia, at the age of 33, in the very early 1950s.

The Sears Roebuck label, Silvertone, released a red vinyl 78 of him conducting a vibrant Debussy Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun.

Yehudi Menuhin

He was admitted to the Vienna Conservatory of Music when he was seven and met Brahms during those early years, who was his idol. His own students included the violinists Yehudi Menuhin, with whom he recorded the Bach Double Violin Concerto; Christian Ferras; Arthur Grumiaux; Ida Haendel; Uto Ughi and Joan Field.

I also highly recommend a listen to the YouTube of his opera, Oedipide, based on Sophocle’s Oedipus Rex, the mythical King, who, according to satirist Tom Lehrer, just “loved his mother!”






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