He may be under-represented in today’s local recital programs, but during his life, George Enescu was well known and welcomed to Toronto.
The George Enescu Festival lands in Canada for the first time this September, with three events in Toronto and one in Montreal. But is the great Romanian composer a familiar name to Canadians?
Festivalul internațional de muzică „George Enescu” va avea în acest an o prezență canadiană, cu concerte prevăzute în orașele Toronto și Montreal.
Şapte oraşe şi cinci ţări – Germania, Franţa, Italia, Canada şi Moldova – vor găzdui în acest an reprezentaţii asociate Festivalului Internaţional „George Enescu”, onorând astfel extraordinara moştenire muzicală a marelui compozitor român.
During World War I, together to his creative activity, Enescu gave concerts in Romania for the wounded in hospitals. After the war, he resumed his tours as a violinist and conductor in Switzerland, France, Holland, Spain, USA, Portugal, Canada, etc.
The musician founded The Symphonic Orchestra in Iași and he conducted it between 1918 and 1920; he also conducted Philharmonic Society Orchestra (1898-1906), Public Instruction Ministry Orchestra (1906-1920), and of the Philharmonic Orchestra in Bucharest (1920-1946).
Enescu was often invited at the Peleș Castle by Queen Elisabeth of Romania (whose pen-name was Carmen Sylva) to give concerts and violin recitals. A series of songs in German is the result of the artistic collaboration between Enescu, the composer, and the Queen, the author.
Considered to be a wonder-child, little Jurjac (the pet-name given by his family and the close ones), as early as the age of five, dreamt to be a composer: “It’s odd though: I never knew anything, I never listened to anything or to very little, I never had anyone near me who could influence me. And still, as a child, I had a definite idea about being a composer. Just a composer“, George Enescu said later to Bernard Gavoty, a music critic and a radio journalist.
At the age of 3, he had one of those decisive musical experiences when he heard, by accident and for the first time, some fiddlers playing near to his native village. Impressed by what he heard, the child tried to imitate the instruments of the folk music band the very next day: the violin was a “thread sewn on a piece of wood” (G. Enescu in B. Gavoty, George Enescu´s Memoires), the cembalo was a couple of wooden sticks, and he imitated the reed pipe by blowing through his lips.