George Enescu |
Musicians Instrumentalists

George Enescu |

George Enescu

Date of birth
Date of death
composer, conductor, instrumentalist

George Enescu |

“I do not hesitate to place him in the very first row of composers of our era… This applies not only to composer creativity, but also to all the numerous aspects of the musical activity of a brilliant artist – violinist, conductor, pianist… Among those musicians that I know. Enescu was the most versatile, reaching high perfection in his creations. His human dignity, his modesty and moral strength aroused admiration in me … ”In these words of P. Casals, an accurate portrait of J. Enescu, a wonderful musician, a classic of the Romanian composer school, is given.

Enescu was born and spent the first 7 years of his life in a rural area in the north of Moldova. Pictures of native nature and peasant life, rural holidays with songs and dances, sounds of doins, ballads, folk instrumental tunes forever entered the mind of an impressionable child. Even then, the initial foundations of that national worldview were laid, which would become decisive for all of his creative nature and activity.

Enescu was educated at the two oldest European conservatories – Vienna, where in 1888-93. studied as a violinist, and the Parisian – here in 1894-99. he improved in the class of the famous violinist and teacher M. Marsik and studied composition with two great masters – J. Massenet, then G. Fauré.

The brilliant and versatile giftedness of the young Romanian, who graduated from both conservatories with the highest distinctions (in Vienna – a medal, in Paris – the Grand Prix), was invariably noted by his teachers. “Your son will bring great glory to you, and to our art, and to his homeland,” Mason wrote to the father of fourteen-year-old George. “Hardworking, thoughtful. Exceptionally brightly gifted, ”Faure said.

Enescu began his career as a concert violinist at the age of 9, when he first performed at a charity concert in his homeland; at the same time, the first response appeared: a newspaper article “Romanian Mozart”. Enescu’s debut as a composer took place in Paris: in 1898, the famous E. Colonne conducted his first opus, The Romanian Poem. The bright, youthfully romantic Poem brought the author both a huge success with a sophisticated audience, and recognition in the press, and most importantly, among demanding colleagues.

Shortly thereafter, the young author presents the “Poem” under his own direction in the Bucharest Ateneum, which will then witness many of his triumphs. That was his debut as a conductor, as well as the first acquaintance of his compatriots with Enescu the composer.

Although the life of a concert musician forced Enescu to be often and for a long time outside his native country, he did surprisingly much for the Romanian musical culture. Enescu was among the initiators and organizers of many nationally important cases, such as the opening of a permanent opera house in Bucharest, the foundation of the Society of Romanian Composers (1920) – he became its first president; Enescu created a symphony orchestra in Iasi, on the basis of which the philharmonic then arose.

The prosperity of the national school of composers was the subject of his especially ardent concern. In 1913-46. he regularly deducted funds from his concert fees for awarding young composers, there was no talented composer in the country who would not become a laureate of this award. Enescu supported the musicians financially, morally, and creatively. During the years of both wars, he did not travel outside the country, saying: “while my homeland suffers, I cannot part with it.” With his art, the musician brought consolation to the suffering people, playing in hospitals and in the fund for helping orphans, helping artists who were in need.

The noblest side of Enescu’s activity is musical enlightenment. An illustrious performer, who was vied with the names of the largest concert halls in the world, he repeatedly traveled all over Romania with concerts, performed in cities and towns, bringing high art to people who were often deprived of it. In Bucharest, Enescu performed with major concert cycles, for the first time in Romania he performed many classical and modern works (Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, D. Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony, A. Khachaturian’s Violin Concerto).

Enescu was a humanist artist, his views were democratic. He condemned tyranny and wars, stood on a consistent anti-fascist position. He did not put his art at the service of the monarchist dictatorship in Romania, he refused to tour in Germany and Italy during the Nazi era. In 1944, Enescu became one of the founders and vice-president of the Romanian-Soviet Friendship Society. In 1946, he came on tour to Moscow and performed in five concerts as a violinist, pianist, conductor, composer, paying tribute to the victorious people.

If the fame of Enescu the performer was worldwide, then his composer’s work during his lifetime did not find proper understanding. Despite the fact that his music was highly appreciated by professionals, it was relatively rarely heard for the general public. Only after the death of the musician was his great importance appreciated as a classic and the head of the national school of composers. In the work of Enescu, the main place is occupied by 2 leading lines: the theme of the motherland and the philosophical antithesis of “man and rock”. Pictures of nature, rural life, festive fun with spontaneous dances, reflections on the fate of the people – all this is embodied with love and skill in the composer’s works: “Romanian Poem” (1897). 2 Romanian Rhapsodies (1901); Second (1899) and Third (1926) sonatas for violin and piano (Third, one of the most famous works of the musician, is subtitled “in the Romanian folk character”), “Country Suite” for orchestra (1938), suite for violin and piano ” Impressions of childhood “(1940), etc.

The conflict of a person with evil forces – both external and hidden in his very nature – especially worries the composer in his middle and later years. The Second (1914) and Third (1918) symphonies, quartets (Second Piano – 1944, Second String – 1951), symphonic poem with choir “Call of the Sea” (1951), Enescu’s swan song – Chamber Symphony (1954) are devoted to this topic. This theme is most deeply and multifaceted in the opera Oedipus. The composer considered the musical tragedy (in libre, based on the myths and tragedies of Sophocles) “the work of his life”, he wrote it for several decades (the score was completed in 1931, but the opera was written in clavier in 1923). Here the idea of ​​irreconcilable resistance of man to evil forces, his victory over fate is affirmed. Oedipus appears as a brave and noble hero, a tyrant-fighter. First staged in Paris in 1936, the opera was a huge success; however, in the author’s homeland, it was first staged only in 1958. Oedipus was recognized as the best Romanian opera and entered the European opera classics of the XNUMXth century.

The embodiment of the antithesis “man and fate” was often prompted by specific events in Romanian reality. Thus, the grandiose Third Symphony with Chorus (1918) was written under the direct impression of the tragedy of the people in the First World War; it reflects images of invasion, resistance, and its finale sounds like an ode to the world.

The specificity of Enescu’s style is the synthesis of the folk-national principle with the traditions of romanticism close to him (the influence of R. Wagner, I. Brahms, S. Frank was especially strong) and with the achievements of French impressionism, with which he became related over the long years of his life in France (he called this country as a second home). For him, first of all, Romanian folklore was the personification of the national, which Enescu knew deeply and comprehensively, highly appreciated and loved, considering it the basis of all professional creativity: “Our folklore is not just beautiful. He is a storehouse of folk wisdom.”

All the foundations of Enescu’s style are rooted in folk musical thinking – melody, metro-rhythmic structures, features of the modal warehouse, shaping.

“His wonderful work has all its roots in folk music,” these words of D. Shostakovich express the essence of the art of the outstanding Romanian musician.

R. Leites

There are individuals about whom it is impossible to say “he is a violinist” or “he is a pianist”, their art, as it were, rises “above” the instrument with which they express their attitude to the world, thoughts and experiences; there are individuals who are generally cramped within the framework of one musical profession. Among these was George Enescu, the great Romanian violinist, composer, conductor, and pianist. The violin was one of his main professions in music, but he was even more attracted to the piano, composition, and conducting. And the fact that Enescu the violinist overshadowed Enescu the pianist, composer, conductor is perhaps the greatest injustice towards this multi-talented musician. “He was such a great pianist that I even envied him,” admits Arthur Rubinstein. As a conductor, Enescu has performed in all the capitals of the world and should be ranked among the greatest masters of our time.

If Enescu the conductor and pianist were still given their due, then his work was evaluated extremely modestly, and this was his tragedy, which left the seal of grief and dissatisfaction throughout his life.

Enescu is the pride of the musical culture of Romania, an artist who is vitally connected with all his art with his native country; at the same time, in terms of the scope of his activities and the contribution that he made to world music, his significance goes far beyond national boundaries.

As a violinist, Enescu was inimitable. In his playing, the techniques of one of the most refined European violin schools – the French school – were combined with the techniques of the Romanian folk “lautar” performance, absorbed since childhood. As a result of this synthesis, a unique, original style was created that distinguished Enescu from all other violinists. Enescu was a violin poet, an artist with the richest fantasy and imagination. He did not play, but created on the stage, creating a kind of poetic improvisation. Not a single performance was similar to another, complete technical freedom allowed him to change even technical techniques during the game. His game was like an excited speech with rich emotional overtones. Concerning his style, Oistrakh wrote: “Enescu the violinist had one important feature – this is an exceptional expressiveness of the articulation of the bow, which is not easy to apply. Speech declamatory expressiveness was inherent in each note, each group of notes (this is also characteristic of the playing of Menuhin, Enescu’s student).

Enescu was a creator in everything, even in violin technology, which was innovative for him. And if Oistrakh mentions the expressive articulation of the bow as a new style of Enescu’s stroke technique, then George Manoliu points out that his fingering principles were just as innovative. “Enescu,” writes Manoliu, “eliminates positional fingering and, by making wide use of extension techniques, thereby avoids unnecessary gliding.” Enescu achieved exceptional relief of the melodic line, despite the fact that each phrase retained its dynamic tension.

Making the music almost colloquial, he developed his own manner of distributing the bow: according to Manoliu, Enescu either divided the extensive legato into smaller ones, or singled out individual notes in them, while maintaining the overall nuance. “This simple selection, seemingly harmless, gave the bow a fresh breath, the phrase received an upsurge, a clear life.” Much of what was developed by Enescu, both through himself and through his student Menuhin, entered the world violin practice of the XNUMXth century.

Enescu was born on August 19, 1881 in the village of Liven-Vyrnav in Moldova. Now this village is called George Enescu.

The father of the future violinist, Kostake Enescu, was a teacher, then the manager of a landowner’s estate. There were many priests in his family and he himself studied at the seminary. Mother, Maria Enescu, nee Kosmovich, also came from the clergy. The parents were religious. The mother was a woman of exceptional kindness and surrounded her son with an atmosphere of immense adoration. The child grew up in the greenhouse environment of a patriarchal home.

In Romania, the violin is the favorite instrument of the people. Her father owned it, however, on a very modest scale, playing in his spare time from official duties. Little George loved to listen to his father, but the gypsy orchestra that he heard when he was 3 years old was especially struck by his imagination. The boy’s musicality forced his parents to take him to Iasi to Caudella, a student of Vieuxtan. Enescu describes this visit in humorous terms.

“So, baby, do you want to play something for me?

“Play first yourself, so I can see if you can play!”

Father hastened to apologize to Caudella. The violinist was clearly annoyed.

“What an ill-mannered little boy!” Alas, I persisted.

– Ah well? Then let’s get out of here, dad!”

The boy was taught the basics of musical notation by an engineer who lived in the neighborhood, and when a piano appeared in the house, Georges began to compose pieces. He was fond of playing the violin and piano at the same time, and when, at the age of 7, he was again brought to Caudella, he advised his parents to go to Vienna. The boy’s extraordinary abilities were too obvious.

Georges came to Vienna with his mother in 1889. At that time, musical Vienna was considered a “second Paris”. The prominent violinist Josef Helmesberger (senior) was at the head of the conservatory, Brahms was still alive, to whom very warm lines are dedicated in Enescu’s Memoirs; Hans Richter conducted the opera. Enescu was accepted into the preparatory group of the conservatory in the violin class. Josef Helmesberger (junior) took him in. He was the third conductor of the opera and led the famous Helmesberger Quartet, replacing his father, Josef Helmesberger (senior). Enescu spent 6 years in the class of Helmesberger and, on his advice, moved to Paris in 1894. Vienna gave him the beginnings of a broad education. Here he studied languages, was fond of the history of music and composition no less than the violin.

Noisy Paris, seething with the most diverse events of musical life, struck the young musician. Massenet, Saint-Saens, d’Andy, Faure, Debussy, Ravel, Paul Dukas, Roger-Ducs – these are the names that the capital of France shone with. Enescu was introduced to Massenet, who was very sympathetic to his composing experiments. The French composer had a great influence on Enescu. “In contact with Massenet’s lyrical talent, his lyricism also became thinner.” In composition, he was led by an excellent teacher Gedalge, but at the same time he attended the class of Massenet, and after Massenet retired, Gabriel Fauré. He studied with such later famous composers as Florent Schmitt, Charles Kequelin, met with Roger Dukas, Maurice Ravel.

Enescu’s appearance at the conservatory did not go unnoticed. Cortot says that already at the first meeting, Enescu impressed everyone with an equally beautiful performance of the Brahms Concerto on the violin and Beethoven’s Aurora on the piano. The extraordinary versatility of his musical performance immediately became apparent.

Enescu spoke little about the violin lessons in Marsik’s class, admitting that they were less imprinted in his memory: “He taught me to play the violin better, helped me learn the style of playing some pieces, but I did not quite quite a long time before I could win the first prize.” This award was given to Enescu in 1899.

Paris “noted” Enescu the composer. In 1898, the famous French conductor Edouard Colonne included his “Romanian Poem” in one of his programs. Enescu was only 17 years old! He was introduced to Colonne by the talented Romanian pianist Elena Babescu, who helped the young violinist win recognition in Paris.

The performance of the “Romanian Poem” was a great success. Success inspired Enescu, he plunged into creativity, composing many pieces in various genres (songs, sonatas for piano and violin, string octet, etc.). Alas! Highly appreciating the “Romanian Poem”, subsequent writings were met by Parisian critics with great restraint.

In 1901-1902, he wrote two “Romanian Rhapsodies” – the most popular works of his creative heritage. The young composer was influenced by many of the trends that were fashionable at that time, sometimes different and contrasting. From Vienna he brought love for Wagner and respect for Brahms; in Paris he was captivated by Massenet’s lyrics, which corresponded to his natural inclinations; he did not remain indifferent to the subtle art of Debussy, the colorful palette of Ravel: “So, in my Second Piano Suite, composed in 1903, there are Pavane and Bourret, written in the old French style, reminiscent of Debussy in color. As for the Toccata that precedes these two pieces, its second theme mirrors the rhythmic motif of the Toccata from Couperin’s Tomb.

In “Memoirs” Enescu admits that he always felt himself not so much a violinist as a composer. “The violin is a wonderful instrument, I agree,” he writes, “but she could not fully satisfy me.” The piano and composer’s work attracted him much more than the violin. The fact that he became a violinist did not happen by his own choice – it was the circumstances, “the case and the will of the father.” Enescu also points to the poverty of violin literature, where, along with the masterpieces of Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Schumann, Frank, Fauré, there is also the “boring” music of Rode, Viotti and Kreutzer: “you cannot love music and this music at the same time.”

Receiving the first prize in 1899 put Enescu among the best violinists in Paris. Romanian artists are organizing a concert on March 24, the collection from which is intended to buy a violin for a young artist. As a result, Enescu receives a magnificent Stradivarius instrument.

In the 90s, a friendship arises with Alfred Cortot and Jacques Thibaut. With both, the young Romanian often performs at concerts. In the next 10 years, which opened a new, XX century, Enescu is already a recognized luminary of Paris. Colonne dedicates a concert to him (1901); Enescu performs with Saint-Saens and Casals and is elected a member of the French Society of Musicians; in 1902 he founded a trio with Alfred Casella (piano) and Louis Fournier (cello), and in 1904 a quartet with Fritz Schneider, Henri Casadesus and Louis Fournier. He is repeatedly invited to the jury of the Paris Conservatory, he conducts an intensive concert activity. It is impossible to list all the artistic events of this period in a brief biographical sketch. Let us note only the first performance on December 1, 1907 of the newly discovered Mozart’s Seventh Concerto.

In 1907 he went to Scotland with concerts, and in 1909 to Russia. Shortly before his Russian tour, his mother died, whose death he took hard.

In Russia, he performs as a violinist and conductor in the concerts of A. Siloti. He introduces the Russian public to Mozart’s Seventh Concerto, conducts the Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 by J.-S. Bach. “The young violinist (Marsik’s student),” the Russian press responded, “showed himself to be a gifted, serious and complete artist, who did not stop at the external lures of spectacular virtuosity, but was looking for the soul of art and comprehending it. The charming, affectionate, insinuating tone of his instrument perfectly corresponded to the character of the music of the Mozart concerto.

Enescu spends the subsequent pre-war years traveling around Europe, but mostly lives either in Paris or in Romania. Paris remains his second home. Here he is surrounded by friends. Among French musicians, he is especially close to Thibault, Cortot, Casals, Ysaye. His kind open disposition and truly universal musicality attract hearts to him.

There are even anecdotes about his kindness and responsiveness. In Paris, a mediocre violinist persuaded Enescu to accompany him at a concert in order to attract an audience. Enescu could not refuse and asked Cortot to turn over the notes for him. The next day, one of the Parisian newspapers wrote with purely French wit: “A curious concert took place yesterday. The one who was supposed to play the violin, for some reason, played the piano; the one who was supposed to play the piano turned the notes, and the one who was supposed to turn the notes played the violin … “

Enescu’s love for his homeland is amazing. In 1913, he provided his funds for the establishment of the National Prize named after him.

During the First World War, he continued to give concerts in France, the USA, lived for a long time in Romania, where he took an active part in charity concerts in favor of the wounded and refugees. In 1914 he conducted Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in Romania in favor of the victims of the war. War seems monstrous to his humanistic worldview, he perceives it as a challenge to civilization, as the destruction of the foundations of culture. As if demonstrating the great achievements of world culture, he gives a cycle of 1915 historical concerts in Bucharest in the 16/16 season. In 1917 he goes back to Russia for concerts, the collection from which goes to the Red Cross fund. In all his activities, an ardent patriotic mood is reflected. In 1918 he founded a symphony orchestra in Iasi.

The First World War and subsequent inflation ruined Enescu. During the 20-30s, he travels around the world, earning a livelihood. “The art of the violinist, which has reached full maturity, captivates listeners of the Old and New Worlds with its spirituality, behind which lies an impeccable technique, depth of thought and high musical culture. The great musicians of today admire Enescu and are happy to perform with him.” George Balan lists the most outstanding performances of the violinist: May 30, 1927 – performance of Ravel’s Sonata with the author; June 4, 1933 – with Carl Flesch and Jacques Thibault Concerto for three violins by Vivaldi; performance in an ensemble with Alfred Cortot – performance of sonatas by J.-S. Bach for violin and clavier in June 1936 in Strasbourg at the festivities dedicated to Bach; joint performance with Pablo Casals in the double Brahms Concerto in Bucharest in December 1937.

In the 30s, Enescu was also highly regarded as a conductor. It was he who replaced A. Toscanini in 1937 as conductor of the New York Symphony Orchestra.

Enescu was not only a musician-poet. He was also a deep thinker. The depth of his understanding of his art is such that he is invited to lecture on the interpretation of classical and modern works at the Paris Conservatory and at Harvard University in New York. “Enescu’s explanations were not mere technical explanations,” writes Dani Brunschwig, “…but embraced great musical concepts and led us to an understanding of great philosophical concepts, to the bright ideal of beauty. Often it was difficult for us to follow Enescu along this path, about which he spoke so beautifully, sublimely and nobly – after all, we were, for the most part, only violinists and only violinists.

Wandering life burdens Enescu, but he cannot refuse it, because he often has to promote his compositions at his own expense. His best creation, the opera Oedipus, on which he worked for 25 years of his life, would not have seen the light if the author had not invested 50 francs in its production. The idea of ​​the opera was born in 000, under the impression of the performance of the famous tragedian Mune Sully in the role of Oedipus Rex, but the opera was staged in Paris on March 1910, 10.

But even this most monumental work did not confirm the fame of Enescu the composer, although many of the musical figures rated his Oedipus unusually highly. Thus, Honegger considered him one of the greatest creations of lyrical music of all time.

Enescu wrote bitterly to his friend in Romania in 1938: “Despite the fact that I am the author of many works, and that I consider myself primarily a composer, the public stubbornly continues to see in me only a virtuoso. But that doesn’t bother me, because I know life well. I continue to stubbornly walk from city to city with a knapsack on my back in order to raise the necessary funds that will ensure my independence.

The personal life of the artist was also sad. His love for Princess Maria Contacuzino is poetically described in George Balan’s book. They fell in love with each other at a young age, but until 1937 Maria refused to become his wife. Their natures were too different. Maria was a brilliant society woman, sophisticatedly educated and original. “Her house, where they played a lot of music and read literary novelties, was one of the favorite meeting places of the Bucharest intelligentsia.” The desire for independence, the fear that the “passionate, all-suppressing despotic love of a man of genius” would limit her freedom, made her oppose marriage for 15 years. She was right – marriage did not bring happiness. Her inclinations for a lavish, flamboyant life clashed with Enescu’s modest demands and inclinations. In addition, they united at the time when Mary became seriously ill. For many years, Enescu selflessly cared for his sick wife. There was only consolation in music, and in it he closed himself.

This is how World War II found him. Enescu was in Romania at that time. During all the oppressive years, while it lasted, he steadfastly maintained the position of self-isolation from the surrounding, deeply hostile in its essence, fascist reality. A friend of Thibaut and Casals, a spiritual student of French culture, he was irreconcilably alien to German nationalism, and his high humanism resolutely opposed the barbaric ideology of fascism. He nowhere publicly showed his hostility to the Nazi regime, but he never agreed to go to Germany with concerts and his silence “was no less eloquent than the ardent protest of Bartok, who declared that he would not allow his name to be assigned to any street in Budapest, while in this city there are streets and squares bearing the name of Hitler and Mussolini.

When the war began, Enescu organized the Quartet, in which C. Bobescu, A. Riadulescu, T. Lupu also took part, and in 1942 performed with this ensemble the entire cycle of Beethoven’s quartets. “During the war, he defiantly emphasized the importance of the composer’s work, which sang of the brotherhood of peoples.”

His moral loneliness ended with the liberation of Romania from the fascist dictatorship. He openly shows his ardent sympathy for the Soviet Union. On October 15, 1944, he conducts a concert in honor of the soldiers of the Soviet Army, in December at the Ateneum – Beethoven’s nine symphonies. In 1945, Enescu established friendly relations with Soviet musicians – David Oistrakh, the Vilhom Quartet, who came to Romania on tour. With this wonderful ensemble, Enescu performed the Fauré Piano Quartet in C minor, the Schumann Quintet and the Chausson Sextet. With the William Quartet, he played music at home. “These were delightful moments,” says the first violinist of the quartet, M. Simkin. “We played with the Maestro the Piano Quartet and the Brahms Quintet.” Enescu conducted concerts in which Oborin and Oistrakh performed Tchaikovsky’s violin and piano concertos. In 1945, the venerable musician was visited by all Soviet performers arriving in Romania – Daniil Shafran, Yuri Bryushkov, Marina Kozolupova. Studying symphonies, concerts of Soviet composers, Enescu discovers a whole new world for himself.

On April 1, 1945, he conducted Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony in Bucharest. In 1946 he traveled to Moscow, performing as a violinist, conductor and pianist. He conducted Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, Tchaikovsky’s Fourth; with David Oistrakh he played Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins and also performed the piano part with him in Grieg’s Sonata in C Minor. “Enthusiastic listeners did not let them off the stage for a long time. Enescu then asked Oistrakh: “What are we going to play for an encore?” “Part from a Mozart sonata,” replied Oistrakh. “No one thought that we performed it together for the first time in our lives, without any rehearsal!”

In May 1946, for the first time after a long separation caused by the war, he meets his favorite, Yehudi Menuhin, who arrived in Bucharest. They perform together in a cycle of chamber and symphony concerts, and Enescu seems to be filled with new forces lost during the difficult period of the war.

Honor, the deepest admiration of fellow citizens surround Enescu. And yet, on September 10, 1946, at the age of 65, he again leaves Romania to spend the rest of his strength in endless wanderings around the world. The tour of the old maestro is triumphant. At the Bach Festival in Strasbourg in 1947, he performed with Menuhin a double Bach Concerto, conducted orchestras in New York, London, Paris. However, in the summer of 1950, he felt the first signs of a serious heart disease. Since then, he has been less and less able to perform. He composes intensively, but, as always, his compositions do not generate income. When he is offered to return to his homeland, he hesitates. Life abroad did not allow a correct understanding of the changes taking place in Romania. This continued until Enescu was finally bedridden by illness.

The seriously ill artist received a letter in November 1953 from Petru Groza, then head of the Romanian government, urging him to return: “Your heart first of all needs the warmth with which the people await you, the Romanian people, whom you have served with such devotion for throughout your life, carrying the glory of his creative talent far beyond the borders of your homeland. People appreciate and love you. He hopes that you will return to him and then he will be able to illuminate you with that joyful light of universal love, which alone can bring peace to his great sons. There is nothing equivalent to such an apotheosis.”

Alas! Enescu was not destined to return. On June 15, 1954, paralysis of the left half of the body began. Yehudi Menuhin found him in this state. “Memories of this meeting will never leave me. The last time I saw the maestro was at the end of 1954 in his apartment on Rue Clichy in Paris. He lay in bed weak, but very calm. Just one look said that his mind continued to live with its inherent strength and energy. I looked at his strong hands, which created so much beauty, and now they were powerless, and I shuddered…” Saying goodbye to Menuhin, as one says goodbye to life, Enescu presented him with his Santa Seraphim violin and asked him to take all his violins for safekeeping.

Enescu died on the night of 3/4 May 1955. “Given Enescu’s belief that “youth is not an indicator of age, but a state of mind,” then Enescu died young. Even at the age of 74, he remained true to his high ethical and artistic ideals, thanks to which he preserved his youthful spirit intact. Years furrowed his face with wrinkles, but his soul, full of eternal search for beauty, did not succumb to the force of time. His death came not as the end of a natural sunset, but as a lightning strike that fell a proud oak. This is how George Enescu left us. His earthly remains were buried in the Père Lachaise cemetery…”

L. Raaben

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