Famous People About Enescu

Alfredo Casella: Enescu is delicate and sensitive, communicative too, like all Latins. Despite his spontaneous and amazingly rich inventiveness, his creation illustrates a process of will, which no artist can overlook. I have seen such a perfect accord between intention and expression in very few contemporary musicians. Long ago, in Paris, before the war, we talked for several evenings on end, in a coffee house near the hall where the Colonne concerts were taking place, about art and memories from home. I lived with the impression, probably taken from Ovid's Tristia, that Romania was a permanently humid and foggy place. Enescu however described to me a heavenly landscape with very blue skies, clear rivers, woods in which the hoarse singing of the cuckoo was heard. Then I understood better his rhapsodies, and I developed a growing interest in his compositions. The war set us apart for many years, but I never ceased to think of my Romanian colleague's art. As a violinist, I consider him one of the few artists of genius whose interpretation was based on the resources of their intelligence and feeling. I have rarely heard Bach or Beethoven interpreted with more insight and lucidity. He does not overlook anything that helps in understanding the great masters, and faced with the poetic profoundness of his interpretations you can hardly refrain from expressing your enthusiasm noisily… After the war, when we met again in Paris, he told me he had received a letter from some fellow countrymen who accused him of… doing nothing! Enescu was working at that time on a string quartet, and on his lyrical tragedy Oedipus. He shared with me some of his problems related to this tragedy, and I felt honored by his trust. He was preoccupied with creating a declamatory style as close as possible to the Romanian folk music. I was one of the first to listen to a few impressive fragments from the first act. From his work I am also familiar with Sonata for piano no. 3, which I'm working on right now, and The 3rd Sonata for violin and piano, written in the rhythm of your folk music. I played it accompanied by its composer at my place in Rome, several years ago. He promised he would send me a sonata for cello and piano he was working on at that time, which I intend to present to the Italian public at the modern music festivals in Venice…

 André François Marescotti – Swiss composer and choir conductor –graduated from the Geneva Conservatory; specialized in Paris with Roger Ducasse. Conducted the choirs of the churches Sacré Coeur in Paris and St. Joseph in Geneva, where he became a professor with the local conservatory in 1931. Composed two Concertos for orchestra, the ballet El Greco's Angels, orchestra suites, choruses, stage music. He met George Enescu at professor Roger Ducasse's place in the French capital. This excerpt from his memoirs was taken from Contemporanul no. 36, 8 September 1967. Gentle, Noble, with a Genuine Humility in the Face of Art  In 1929 or 1930, on a Thursday afternoon, I was – like every other Thursday between 2 and 5 – at Roger Ducasse's place, with whom I was taking music lessons at that time. ' What are you doing tonight?' Ducasse asked me at the end of the lesson. 'Nothing special,' I answered, although I think I wanted to go to the theater. 'Enescu is coming over here. Would you like to come too?' I was familiar with George Enescu's celebrity, and I had even attended one of his concerts in Geneva. In those times, he performed in our city quite often. The memory of that evening has remained vivid in my memory. Enescu charmed me from the moment he made his appearance. I remember even now the sparkling conversation, the memories the two talked about lively and wittily, evoking Fauré or Debussy, to whom both were very close. Enescu remained in my memory as it was then: gentle, humane, noble, amazing in his manifestations and – what impressed me most – with a genuine humility in the face of art. I knew little about his compositions: when I was young Enescu's compositions were performed in Paris, but not in Switzerland, I believe. Many years later, I told a good friend of mine, a professor at the Geneva Conservatory like myself, that I would like to listen to music by Enescu. The friend was Dinu Lipatti. He gave a soiree dedicated to the Romanian master, where he interpreted brilliantly two Sonatas by Enescu (Dinu Lipatti played quite often music by George Enescu in his concerts in Switzerland). Speaking of Enescu's work, we could say it puts together the innovations of neoromanticism and impressionism in terms of harmony, the musical language in the great tradition of the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, the elegance, good taste and structure – interpreted very personally – of the French school (Fauré, Debussy, Ravel), the assimilation of the great German romantics (Schumann, Brahms), etc. etc. What is essential, however, is the authenticity of this music, the inventiveness of the composer, the typically Romanian verve and flavor, and the original interpretation of the folk substratum.(Spectacolul muzicii, Bucureşti 1, no. 26, 16 august 1995, p. 7) 
Bela Bartok – Hungarian composer, ethnomusicologist and pianist (1881-1945); folklorist who collected and popularized thousands of folk Hungarian, Romanian, Slovak, Bulgarian, Serbo-Croatian and Turkish songs – was a great friend of the Romanian composers (Enescu, Brăiloiu, Drăgoi, Buşiţia, D. G. Kiriac, etc.). He shared with Enescu the experience of the exile, and most of his masterpieces were inspired from folklore (Music for strings, glockenspiel and percussion, Concerto for orchestra, Concerto for viola and orchestra, Divertimento for strings, the three Concerti for piano and orchestra, the ballet The Miraculous Mandarin, the opera Prince Bluebeard's Castle). Bartok had a major contribution to the assertion of the modern Hungarian national school. He gave concerts in Romania with the Bucharest Philharmonic orchestra, and collaborated in a number of recitals with George Enescu to whom he showed a sincere and constant admiration. The present excerpt is taken from Revue Roumaine, 35, no. 8/1981. This Admirable Man… (…) On my way to Bucharest, I was understandably happy to see Enescu, who had come to meet and accompany me to the capital, on the platform of the border station. As Enescu was great both as a conductor, and as an instrumentalist and composer, he was chosen to conduct the concert in which I performed my orchestra composition Two Tableaux, which he immediately put on his lap and immersed himself in. From his countenance, and his silent hissing, humming and whistling I realized that he had absorbed the most intricate harmonic interweavings and nuances of the orchestration at a glance. He apologized for having to look through the score once more in order to keep in mind the smallest details. 'Go ahead, my friend,' I said to myself, 'but you can drop molten wax on me and I still don't believe you will remember anything of that music!' After a second reading, he gave me back the score, which I brought to the rehearsal myself the following day. The archivist took the score and placed it on the conductor's stand. Enescu hastily climbed up to the stand and his first gesture was to put the score in the drawer. I must say I was gobsmacked. And when the maestro conducted from memory the Two Tableaux, not forgetting anything, not even the tiniest detail, bringing into relief so artistically all my intentions, which I had introduced in the note values, and so well that I myself had nothing to add, I was so impressed as I've never been before. I did not say much to him, but from my long and silent handshake, that special man sensed that I had placed him forever in my heart, and I became one of his admirers.(Spectacolul Muzicii, Buc. !, nr. 26, 16 August 1995, p. 6)
 David Oistrach – Russian violinist, conductor and professor (1908-1974), the greatest violin virtuoso after 1945 – was the preferred instrumentalist of such Russian composers as Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Khachaturian and Kabalevski, who wrote capital pieces specially for him. He performed in Romania on various occasions, was the professor of a number of Romanian violinists (Ion Voicu among them), and participated in the first edition of the "George Enescu" International Festival (1958), after having collaborated with Enescu as conductor, pianist and violinist (1945-1946) in Moscow and Bucharest. The present notes are taken from a concert leaflet. He Emanated the Immense Joy of Sharing the Music I had the pleasure of meeting Enescu in Bucharest and Moscow. The impression he made on me as a man and a polyvalent artist was so strong that even those brief meetings were forever imprinted in my memory. (…) I was familiar with Enescu's recordings; once I listened to one of Mozart's concerts in his interpretation on Radio London, and I was impressed by his profound and gracious style. In the very first hours of my visit in Bucharest I learnt how vast and diverse Enescu's concert activity was. I found that out from the posters scattered all over the city: he gave recitals, conducted symphonic concerts, participated in performing the entire cycle of Beethoven's Quartets… That day I had a concert. We could see and listen to Enescu only the following day, at his Violinabend… He played Bach, Franck's Sonata, and several other pieces. First, we were impressed by the truly pious atmosphere in the concert hall. For, Enescu was not loved in Romania only as a charming musician. He was deeply respected and admired for being an important militant in the social field, who contributed a great deal to the development of his country's culture and art. France was Enescu's second homeland. He studied there, lived there for a long time, he was the friend and companion of many French musicians in their struggle. Despite all this, he has always remained a faithful son of the Romanian people… Not for one moment did any of his gestures or nuances of his performance create the impression that he wanted to transmit to the audience his qualities as a performer. His performance was imbued with deep wisdom, revealed high ethical and musical ideals, his long-term quest for the artistic truth, a quest that led to the revaluation of the results reached so far, and the dismissal of the old traditions. But mainly, what Enescu literally emanated was the immense joy of sharing the music. And the grateful audience shared the same feeling. During the break I went over to Enescu. He received me cordially, in a friendly manner. The previous day he had listened to our concert on the radio, and speaking about it, he started humming some of the pieces we had performed. Enescu then invited me to try his wonderful violin, remarking with his characteristic modesty: "It has been said this is a Guarnieri (Del Gesù)…" I will always remember his appearance: a little hunched, with a special expression of his lively eyes. And – I should add – his cordial warmth. (…) Later, Enescu conducted Tchaikovsky's Symphony no. 4 in Moscow, and this I will never forget. Certainly, we have wonderful traditions in performing Symphony no. 4. We may even consider Enescu's interpretation not exactly a model – but is there such a performance? However, it revealed the personality of a great artist, the plasticity of his musical thinking, his sincere admiration for the melodic! He played the first part, all of it, literally with no external effect; he rendered the composer's inner movements, his interior state. It was one of the most interesting interpretations of this brilliant work by an inspired artist. (…) In 1946, Enescu came to the Soviet Union and performed a number of different concerts. His performance of Khachaturian's Concerto was especially appreciated. The artist, aged 65, learnt a complex musical piece, intonationally not very close to him, using the score (which is rather difficult!), and played it by heart, faultlessly and clearly. (…) Later I had yet again the great pleasure to perform with Enescu, this time pieces in very diverse styles. We were to perform Bach's Concerto for 2 Violins and Orchestra in D minor in the Great Hall of the Conservatory. At the rehearsal, we politely offered each other the score of the first violin, and we found out that both of us have always played… the second violin! After some hesitation, Enescu played brilliantly – for the first time in his life, but with no difficulty at all – the score of the first violin. And it is common knowledge that alternating the scores is difficult, although they differ very little (or perhaps that is exactly why!). Enescu the violinist had an important characteristic feature: the exceptional expressiveness of articulating the bow, to which it is not very easy to adapt. An oral, declamatory expressiveness characterized every single note, every group of notes (this is also a characteristic feature of Enescu's student, Menuhin). Performing with Enescu – as with Menuhin – I have always thought: how can I approach this manner? Is it necessary in all circumstances? Personally, I attached much importance to the expressiveness of the legato. It is quite natural, one reconsiders any modality at times… Such Was His Boundless Generosity During the same tour, Enescu appeared in front of the audience both as a pianist and a conductor. At the concert held in Tchaikovsky Hall, he played on the violin Mozart's Sonata in B flat major and Franck's Sonata accompanied by Lev Oborin, and on the piano, Grieg's Sonata in C minor accompanied by me. The public encored. 'What would you like to play?' Enescu asked me. 'A part of Mozart's Sonata?' We played and no one realized we performed without a single rehearsal! I met Enescu in Moscow and we had a long conversation. He lodged at the National Hotel with an entire "suite": his family, secretaries, etc. But once I was lucky to find him completely alone. Walking along the hotel corridor, I heard fragments from Bach's Ciaccona from far away. I didn't have the courage to knock at the door, but I opened it a little and watched him. There, in the half-dark, he played, but not for the concert hall: sitting in the armchair, leaning forward, his eyes closed. It was an infinite fusion with the music, the great artistic joy; the artist was working, he was preparing for the concert, he was conversing with himself. That evening, Enescu's every single word echoed a sense of the accomplished duty of a musician who shared his beloved art with the public. But I also heard sad notes. Despite his passion for music, he found it more and more difficult to perform. He had to free the fingers of his left hand from a too excessive effort, from the too tight, convulsive hold on the violin neck, which was explained by a certain diminishing in the muscle elasticity. (But, despite that sad finding, my memory has preserved clearly Enescu's performance of Chausson's Poem – one of the "power" pieces in his repertoire. It was precisely the sonorous plasticity, the varying vibration of his left hand that charmed there.) At some point I mentioned Enescu's Cadence to Brahms' Violin Concerto (I had heard it in Menuhin's interpretation, but I couldn't find it anywhere). I received an evasive answer, and I understood he didn't have the notes on the cadence with him. However, the following day, at the rehearsal, he gave me as a gift this Cadence, which he wrote down from memory. Such was Enescu's boundless generosity.(Spectacolul Muzicii, Bucureşti, 1, no. 26, 16 August 1995, p. 7)
 Dimitri Shostakovich:Soviet musical circles show high appreciation of such a brilliant musician as George Enescu. Enescu's talent was indeed multilateral. He was a great violinist, pianist and conductor, and a remarkable composer. George Enescu visited Moscow and delighted his audience here with his talent. /…/ I was fortunate enough to meet Enescu, and the conversations I had with him gave me great joy. It was a sheer pleasure to listen to his deep commentaries on music, and to witness his fiery patriotism and love for his homeland and people. His wonderful work is rooted in the folk creation. The continuation of his great tradition by the Romanian composers will be a contribution worthy of George Enescu's bright memory.(Contemporanul, Bucureşti, no. 35 (517), 31 August 1956, 1)
 Georges Auric:With Enescu I have always liked the strong national character of his work. But its local color does not make it strictly local from the viewpoint of accessibility. I'm saying this openly, with all my respect and admiration: Enescu is a great Romanian master of world music. How else should I put it? An admirable nightingale singing to everybody's understanding from the branches of a tree deeply rooted in Romanian soil. And, from what I've heard here, contemporary Romanian music continues Enescu's tradition, preserving its authenticity expressed in a modern language.
 Recollections of George EnescuAn Interview with Jean Pierre Rampal When I personally met the maestro at Gaveau (de auditu, I had attended his performance with Ravel's Trio, on the composer's commemoration), I was familiar with his reputation and prestige. But I was simply fascinated by the personality of the great musician, whose fame, I can say, is constantly growing. George Enescu had a bright look, the mirror of his spiritual mobility, and an utterly charming kindness. Later I became very fond of the great musician; we were to perform together, and I visited him in Rue de Clichy, in Paris, where he spent his final years.How was the Chamber Symphony received?It was a success both with the musicians – and I refer mainly to the members of the orchestra – and with the audience. It is, let me call it, an avant-garde piece that requires great concentration both from the listener and the performer. It reflects a profound way of thinking, not to mention the skilfulness of the composition itself. After the first performance, George Enescu changed the piece to a certain extent. This is quite obviously a composition of great interior tension . I think however there is a long way from here to an eclatant success with the public, but this distance is diminishing in time.You have performed music by Bach, Enescu, etc. with the maestro. What are your impressions?The chamber music sessions with the maestro have been imprinted forever in my memory. George Enescu was witty, he had a subtle sense of humour. It was a sheer delight to talk with him about music and art. He had a vast culture; and apart from that, his unparalleled kindness imbued the music he was creating or performing.How about Enescu at the piano?Above all, his technique was perfection itself. His accompaniment as well as his participation as equal in the sonatas took the form of an all-encompassing symphonism. Enescu had been for a long time in the select club of the great artists who play their instruments so well that they no longer think of them. What I mean is he was completely free from any concern for his performance. It is in the company of these artists that I have aimed to be my career.How was he during the rehearsals?George Enescu had his own exigencies; he always asked for a most natural interpretation. In performing Bach, for instance, he requested a lot of expressiveness and no explosive effects: "No dynamite," he used to say. I played Bach's Brandenburg Concert no. 5 with the maestro and Christian Ferras, and I am also proud to have played his brilliant chamber pieces Cantabile and Presto, which I recorded with the Philips record company as a sign of homage. I was to perform them again later in my Japanese tour of concerts, where they had great success. In fact, I recorded these pieces in Japan too.What do you think of George Enescu's interpretative skills?I will refer to Enescu violin and piano skill to the extent to which our collaboration allowed me to become familiar with it. The maestro's magnificent performance was firmly based on his excellent technique. What struck you with Enescu was that, both with the piano and the violin, he was no longer concerned with the instrument. I believe the only approach that can result in a truly artistic performance is this lack of concern for performance. From this point of view, Enescu was a brilliant example for me, as well as for other performers.(Muzica, iulie (1967) no. 7)
 Marc Pincherle:Force* This hunched old man walking slowly has the same force that irradiated from the mysterious handsome teenager whom the envious couldn't forgive because he looked like a more refined Beethoven, and yet was endowed with so much talent: the same halo that would later envelop the composer of Oedipus. No one denies it now. Even the most resistant judges can only admire a musical makeup of almost colossal richness that enables him to be equally at ease when writing an opera, galvanizing an orchestra he conducts for the first time, conducting from memory – and yet how passionately and accurately – a concert consisting of musical pieces unknown to him only eight days previously, or sitting at the piano and playing – yet again from memory, and outlining every single nuance – Debussy's Nocturnes or Le Sacre du Printemps. Anyone can imagine how much all these gifts have meant for his skill as a violinist. In whatever he plays there is no indifferent note, no moment of automatism, everything is constant creation. To perform – as he does, with all its reprises – Bach's Partita, which ends with the enormous Ciaccona, is undoubtedly an unusual test of resistance. But his true achievement is to capture the attention of the audience with only his violin for half an hour. He does it in a firm rhythm, contrary to the one traditionally used with Bach, by changing the timbre, both using sonorous scales, as organ players do, and modulating the tune like a singer. He plays on just four strings pieces for which transcribers use an entire orchestra.
Monique Haas:Among my last memories I have with him are those from the time we were preparing his Sonata for violin and piano and a number of sonatas by Mozart and Brahms. Then we performed together on several occasions, in England and Paris, some of Bach's and Mozart's concerti. Enescu was conducting. He was incredible. But the most touching memory I have remains the last concert I performed with Enescu: on 29 November 1953, in the Gaveau Hall, where we played two concerti for piano conducted by him. I had met him in 1931, when my husband presented him a new musical piece that I was interpreting. Later we became close friends. He advised and guided me. Whatever he told me was entirely true and correct. He made genuine music. And he had a deep impact on me. I will never forget his flattering appreciation of my interpretation of Sonata no. 1 for piano, which I played on several occasions.In the Memoirs edited by Bernard Gavoty, Enescu protested against his being considered a violinist in the first place and only then a composer. Did he refer to the Parisian musical environment? "Enescu was right", answered Marcel Mihailovich. "With a certain public, his creative side was somehow less noticed as compared to his art as an instrumentalist. This is in fact what happened in the cases of Liszt and Busoni." "But was absolutely false as a general picture", concluded Monique Haas.(Tribuna 2 (1958), no. 37 (84), 13 September 1958)
Nikita Magaloff: I knew him, and I appreciated him very much… We met quite a number of times: in London, New York… But he impressed me most in Washington, where he conducted a series of concerts in which I was the soloist. One evening we met in a circle of American friends. Certainly, we played something for our host's pleasure. But knowing that Enescu was excellent on piano, I didn't want to monopolize the instrument. And I asked him if he would like to play something. He sat at the piano and played by heart – who do you think? – Schubert's Unfinished Symphony! Few musicians can do that…(Informaţia Bucureştiului, 27, nr. 8084, 22 September 1979, p. 5)

Oskar Nedbal – Czech composer and conductor (1874-1930) – began his artistic career as a violinist in the "Bohemian Quartet", to later become conductor of the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, the "Tonkunstlerorchester" in Vienna and the Bratislava Philharmonic Orchestra. He composed the operetta Polish Blood, which brought him world fame. He also conducted in Romania (Bucureşti, Iaşi and Cluj), and collaborated with several Romanian soloists, thus winning an unanimous artistic appreciation. The present excerpt from his memoirs was taken from the Bucharest magazine "Rampa", 7, no. 1559, 1 January 1923. He Was a Man Gifted by God It so happened that I met Enescu in Budapest, at a concert given by "Wiener Tonkunstlerorchester", when Brahms' Double concerto was presented. George Enescu was playing the violin, Pablo Casals, the cello, and I conducted the orchestra. Therefore, the ensemble was not all that bad. The first musical phrase interpreted by Enescu made me realize at once that I was dealing with a man gifted by God. To me, Enescu is not just the greatest Romanian artist, I am convinced that this genius is one of Europe's greatest musicians of our time. He is such a universal artist that it is very difficult to say which of his artistic qualities is more remarkable. He is the perfect man to represent the glory of his country abroad. At the same time, people regret he does not stay longer at home as the leading personality in the field of music; the more so as he seems to be made for this, considering also his personal qualities, so different from the paltry attitude of other artists. His most appealing quality is his love for progress, for the young Romanian musicians. Whatever is new and good, whatever is worthy of attention interests Enescu, and comes under his protection, for this great musician foresees the victory of the Romanian musical culture. His opinions are confirmed more and more often.(Spectacolul Muzicii, Buc. 1, no. 26, 16.08.1995, p. 5)

Pablo Casals – cellist, conductor and professor (1876-1973) – remains the artistic personality who changed the destiny of his instrument by playing both pre-classical (Bach), and contemporary music (Enescu, Schönberg, Waugham Williams, etc.). He founded a famous trio (Cortot, Thibaud, Casals), the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra, and the international Festivals of Prades and Puerto Rico. He collaborated with George Enescu quite early in his career, when they played several concerts in Paris (they played Enescu's Sonata for piano and cello for the first time, with the composer at the piano). He published two volumes of memoirs, in which he evokes the personality of his Romanian colleague in superlative terms. The present excerpt was taken from the Cluj literary magazine Tribuna no. 13 of 29 March 1962. One of the Greatest Geniuses of Modern Music First, I think it would be interesting to tell you when I met Enescu… Enescu was still a student at the Conservatory, and although not older than 18-19, he was already the author of several brilliant compositions. I think it was at that time, i.e. at about 18, that he composed his Octet, which I consider one of the most interesting and greatest pieces written of our time. He then composed the magnificent the Decatet for wind instruments, and his Sonatas for violin. I think he had written his Rhapsodies before. (…) He was a very dear friend of mine. There was absolute sympathy and understanding between us, which made our conversations not only most interesting, but also a manifestation of the great friendship that filled our hearts. (…) I consider Enescu one of the greatest geniuses of "modern" music in the good sense of the word. He was the most complete musician at that time, for we shouldn't forget that Enescu was not just a great composer, but also one of the greatest violinists, as well as a brilliant conductor and pianist. It is regrettable that the so-called "modern" musical trends, which in fact I don't consider modern, were an early obstacle in the popularization of Enescu's later works. All the good music written at that time was left aside (as it happened with Enescu's compositions), but I'm sure this unfortunate situation will change. Enescu's music will make a comeback, and we will come to know his entire work, just as we know the works of Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn. (…) I would like to stress that Enescu was of an exemplary simplicity and generosity. You had to spend time with him to realize not only what a great musician he was, but also what kind of man.(Spectacolul muzicii, Bucureşti, 1, no. 26, 16 August 1996, p. 6.)

 Richard Strauss: In 1906, in Paris, Enescu played my Sonata for violin and piano. I was accompanying him myself with a feeling of satisfaction and, at the same time, awe. So much greater as, at one of the rehearsals (we only had two!), he had replaced me at some point at the piano and had played the entire sonata without notes, humming the violin part with a most astonishing accuracy. In fact, artists of genius have this wonderful gift of taking in the music in its entirety, of assimilating it in all its details until it becomes, in a sense, a constituent part of their thinking and feeling, as if they were the authors of the piece they interpret. Accompanying him in that unforgettable concert in Paris, I had the rather unusual feeling that I was detaching myself from my composition, and that I was listening not to a sonata written by me, but one written by Enescu. When, after the concert, I told him that, he looked at me seriously and said: "But this is perfectly natural. Once I grew fond of your sonata, it became mine to the same extent to which it is yours. Otherwise, I wouldn't have been able to play it the way you felt it…"(Cronica, Iaşi, 2, no. 31(78), 5.08.1996) 
Robert Soëtens:The Memory and Example of Enescu My memories of George Enescu – the composer, violinist, performer, professor, conductor and pianist – cover a period of forty years! As early as the last years of la belle epoque, right before 1914, when I was a young apprentice violinist at the Paris Conservatory, and later, after 1918, in the course of a musical life belongin