Light And Shade

excerpt THUNDERSTRUCK A few days after having met George Enescu on the road to Peleş, after dinner, I was on my divan smoking a fragrant oriental cigarette next to Princess Maria, resplendent in her long, pink veils; she was knitting without seeing the work, in the semidarkness of the room, like old blind Irish women.It had been a heavy atmosphere throughout the day. During dinner, the trees thumped by the unexpected wind made us anticipate a storm, and in the salon filled with guests the silence had become threatening. A violent storm was about to start. Big lightning flashes were already crossing the black, low sky, and thunders were roaring beyond the dark mountain ridge, as if the mountain had begun to boil. […]Mihai stood up, ready to go, as he did every evening, to the casino, when a violent noise nailed us to our places. The thunderbolt had hit one of the most beautiful trees in the garden, just a few steps away from the house. At the same time, the doors of the salon were flung open, and Romeo announced, "Mr. George Enescu."Is it a man, a god, or a demon's – this silhouette of a Titan coming out of the thunderbolt, slender, yet compact as if made of black jasper? Destiny in person. He advances towards me, fatal, irresistible, as I am walking like a somnambulist to welcome him. His hot hands pressed mine, which I extended to him quasi-unconsciously. I don't remember what important words I missed, without even realizing what was going on; I felt like having fallen into an abyss, with a wonderful sensation of plunging. Who invited him? I had hesitated, even refused – without any plausible reason. Who brought him? At Mihai's insistence, Boskoff had driven down to the royal castle, where he lived, to take him. Only spouses are able to speed up fate in such a way.What happened next? I remember only that the salon emptied almost at once, and I was left alone with him until morning.Him? Who? This extraordinary man who contained the whole universe, where the past, present and future came together. Bright or dark? Does one still wonder under the impression of such a bolt from the blue?When I saw him at dawn, ready to go to Peleş, on the now clear sky rosy clouds hopped in a cavalcade with their glowing linings, behind which the day was rising on wings of light. Inside me, joy was stretching huge wings that took me far away, very far from what had been before, to absolute regions the existence of which I had ignored altogether.When we said goodbye, by the gate of the garden, he told me, in his deep, musical voice which neither humans, nor animals could resist, "You will come to Peleş at eleven to hear me perform for Queen Elisabeta, won't you?"He was speaking softly, without looking at me, not to trouble the magic of that special hour, lifting his exalted eyes to the rush of the rosy, fire-lined clouds and the budding sunrise. Each of his words echoed in my chest, as if mystery itself had been speaking. He looked even taller in the daylight than in the darkness of the house. He was one with the magnificent splendor of nature peacefully coming to life at dawn. But I was feeling it ready to burst out at the first impulse, at the slightest élan of his being, disquieting in its richness and complexity. I also guessed deep inside him the smoldering force of storms and dangers, whose latent threat added to the extraordinary attraction he was radiating.He was to play at Peleş for Queen Carmen Sylva and her guests? What was the instrument he played – this fabulous creature carrying with it the thunderbolt and the entire joy of the universe? I couldn't remember… although Europe had consecrated him already as a genius violinist, while Romania was proud of him without having any merit.On that first morning of our love, I only met the big feline Sphinx, amidst the bleak moments of the loneliness of a genius and his passion, or terrible elements. Much later, I discovered the gentle child of people, his sensitive, desperate soul, and his endearing heart with feminine fibers, to which I became tied little by little, with painful tenderness because of its intensity."You will come to Peleş, I know, and among all those who scare you, we shall be alone, just the two of us," he whispered, as if to himself. Then he hurried out of the garden, without looking back.

by Maria Cantacuzino-Enescu