George Georgescu's Image In My Mind And Soul

Director of the George Enescu Philharmonic in Bucharest

At a certain point, the evolution of Romanian culture goes through a moment when, owing to strong personalities, the distance separating it from the level attained by the universal culture is suddenly annulled, and the Romanian mind not only joins the world concert as a factor, but all of the sudden dominates it.Speaking about this flourishing of the Romanian culture, I am thinking about the first decades of the 20th century, I am thinking about people like Constantin Brancusi, the son of a peasant from Gorj, who, revealing the mysteries of the Romanian folk art, brings the metaphoric force of the line and the magic power of the symbol to the contemporary sculpture; I am thinking about Henri Coanda, coming from a country where the first railroads were just beginning to be installed, but establishing the aerodynamic principles, which are essential elements in today's astronautic and air navigation; and I am thinking about the child who started out from the Miorita land, carrying only the songs of the village fiddlers as an artistic dowry – George Enescu, who amazed the music cities of Vienna and Paris and later became, if not the most innovative, then one of the most complex musical personalities of his time. To the same stage in the Romanian culture we owe the deep contribution to the modern philosophical thinking of Lucian Blaga, who acknowledged the stylistic matrix of the Romanian Miorita space until his death.At the same time, in 1918, a young Romanian who was virtually unknown in this country, George Georgescu, made his debut at the Berlin Philharmonic, and his immediate success made him famous in great musical centers, soon winning him the friendship and respect of people like Richard Strauss, Cortot, Casals, and Stravinsky. Shortly afterwards, he became the initiator and then, for four decades, the director of the Bucharest Philharmonic.I believe I am not mistaken when I integrate this unexpected emergence to the same phenomenon of a burst in the Romanian genius early in the 20th century, a phenomenon that replaced the need for developments based on tradition with a condensation of energies, creative fires that had been hidden for centuries and whose materialization had not been possible in an evolutionary process, like in other cultures.Historical determinants, perhaps also a certain geographic position have led to this somewhat explosive recuperation form – making up for lost time. (…)The Bucharest Philharmonic occupied the supreme position in George Georgescu's life. From the inaugural concert on January 4, 1920 until his death, the Philharmonic was the same as his own being. Years on end, hundreds of concerts resounded under his baton. The first two decades also saw the first successes, the first tours abroad, the first accomplishments for our national symphonic music. Although just a couple of veterans of those early times are still among the Philharmonic members, the entire orchestra still preserves the nostalgia for those times, which tend to become mythical, together with the image of the departed maestro.George Georgescu's print is equally brilliant from three epochs when he was the director of the Bucharest Opera. Like his great contemporaries Furtwaengler, Toscanini, Bruno Walter, and Clemens Krauss, George Georgescu was equally great as a conductor with the symphony orchestra and at the opera. Conducting opera was second, but not secondary, in his career. He was not an opera conductor doing daily routine – even in the good sense of the word. In exchange, when he conducted opera shows in Bucharest, Florence, Berlin, or Washington, those shows became events not only owing to his musical personality, but also due to his stage director's sense, I could say, with which he led the show. (…)Faithful to his conception on the global vision of a work, with his artistic temperament crossing the threshold of incandescence, especially in the presence of the audience, Georgescu was not structurally built for the sometimes tedious work of recordings.The frequent deficiencies coming from location, sound intake, the often inadequate functioning of the equipment, and, finally, problems having to do with performance details, sometimes neglected in concerts but incompatible with the rigor requested by the microphone, led to countless interruptions and resumptions, which were not in tune with the maestro's way of doing music. This is why not many recordings have remained from George Georgescu. (…)The audience loved him and was fascinated by his presence not only when he conducted, but every time he showed up in theaters, or even in the streets of Bucharest.Unlike other people who looked for success away from this country, George Georgescu remained unmoved by all the waves, in good times and hard times, faithful to the Philharmonic and to the audience.Those of us who knew him, let us close our eyes for one second and bring his image back to our minds, the way he was at the Athenaeum, conducting his orchestra, in the middle of listeners, in the midst of us all.

by Mihai Brediceanu