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Consider Enescu's own musical upbringing -- violin studies with Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra leader Josef Hellmesberger, harmony with Austrian teacher and composer Robert Fuchs, and counterpoint with Robert's brother, Johann Nepomuk Fuchs. To add to this, Enescu continued his studies at the Conservatoire de Paris, attending composition classes with Massenet and Fauré.

Even now Enescu is best known for two Romanian Rhapsodies; No 1 composed at the age of 20 (1901) and No 2 (1902). A minority of music lovers remember him as the prolific composer; a pianist, teacher, conductor, teacher and wonderful violinist who toured in many countries and instructed Arthur Grumiaux, Ivry Gitlis, Ida Handel and Christian Ferras.

His most publicized association was with Yehudi Menuhin; and the younger celebrity became the composer's tireless advocate.

Enescu was a mild-mannered, complex, deeply spiritual humanist who remains something of an enigma for his exceptional Renaissance-style abilities.

During World War I he stayed in Romania, while before and after that war he made numerous concert tours in Europe.

The first American appearances were in 1923, as violinist and guest conductor with the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Yet from 1927 he chose France as his second home and conducted the Paris Symphony Orchestra and the 'Orchestre des concerts Colonne'. In the 1930s he continued life as a violinist, conductor, teacher, musicologist and organizer, while working on his powerful opera Oedipus.

He continued to conduct across Europe and again in North America, where he directed the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in its 1936-37 season.

During World War II the maestro stayed in Romania. In 1946 he conducted in the Great Hall of Moscow Conservatory, then returned to Paris.

From 1948 until 1950 Enescu taught at the Mannes Music School in New York and, for a short period, joined the faculty of the University of Illinois; though plagued with arthritis.

Finally, he left for Paris.

Why his music isn't better known remains a mystery.

Copyright © 9 May 2007 Howard Smith, Masterton, New Zealand


George Enescu: Complete Works for Violin & Piano Vol 1

CD 98.239 DDD Stereo NEW RELEASE 61'34" 2007 Hänssler Classic

Remus Azoitei, violin; Eduard Stan, piano

George Enescu (1881-1955): Impressions d'enfance Op 28 (1940) (Fiddler; Old Beggar; Stream at the Bottom of the Garden; The Bird in the Cage and the Cuckoo on the Wall; Lullaby; Cricket; Moonlight through the Windows; Wind in the Chimney; Storm outside, at Night; Sunrise); Sonata in A minor, 'Torso' (1911) - Moderato; Sonata No 2 in F minor Op 6 (1899) (Assez mouvementé; Tranquillement; Vif)




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