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Government lets it rain on great composer’s treasures

The Rumanian country house where George Enescu grew up is falling down.


Worse, we are told, is the fate of his legacy in the capital, Bucharest. This is the state of the Enescu Museum in Bucharest, the so-called House with Lions, formerly Maruka Cantacuzino’s palace:

enescu bucharest


And this is one of the paintings owned by the composer, plainly damaged by rain.

enescu painting

And here’s a pile of his documents, mouldering on a desk, never catalogued or preserved.

Enescu documents

The Rumanian Government bears direct responsibility for this dereliction. It is complicit in the wilful destruction of European heritage. If the Ministry of Culture won’t do something about it, and the Prime Minister turns a blind eye, visiting artists must use every opportunity to express a view on this wanton act of philistinism. Pittsburgh Symphony, let’s hear it loud and clear.




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  1. So sad. I have long been an admirer of Enescu the composer. Look at those bouldering documents–a horror. I hope that his extraordinary Nocturne for piano (a monumental work) is not among these documents. (And if anyone can tell me how to acquire a copy of the Enescu Nocturne, I would be gratefu).

  2. It is a shame indeed! One can spend millions of Euros for the Enescu Festival (some orchestras or artists are better payed than in other rich countries) and one cannot repair a house??!!
    It’s ridiculous!

  3. Rumania????? I cannot understand how a self-respecting jurnalist can make such a mistake! Such a shame….

    • It’s the correct UK spelling.

      • Robert Fitzpatrick says:

        And in the US, it’s Romania, in France it’s Roumanie. România is the local national spelling, I believe. I wonder how they spell Chaikovsky ?

    • Queen Marie spelled it ‘Rumania’ but it can also be spelled ‘Roumania’ in English, too. That, however, isn’t really the subject of the post so I’m not sure why the need to nitpick without first checking a dictionary…

      • My thoughts exactly! Rumania, Romania, Roumanie, România… Let’s call the whole thing off, as the song goes! The issue here is not the spelling of “Romania”, but the way Romania is treating (trashing) her history and culture. Shameful!

        • Quite right. But just to split a hair in four, I just found a quote to clear the whole thing up for Adriana:

          “In 1945 I was assigned to the Allied Control Commission for Rumania (note spelling). At that time, the British used ROUMANIA and the Americans RUMANIA. After the war, the Romanian government, preferring the old connection to the Romans, made an official change to ROMANIA.”

          Thus, ROmania is the commie spelling due to ceausescu’s little foibles. I always used to spell it ROU- but eventually phased it out and use RO- instead these days…


  4. Peter Klatzow says:

    The music will never die. Paintings moulder, manuscripts rot, but the music itself is eternal. That is the magic of a musical creation.

    • The important thing is to get the music off the manuscripts before they do indeed rot. And you might still need them in a century or so to check whether it’s an F or an F sharp in bar 23. It’s all very well claiming airily that the ‘music will never die’, but it has to be born in the first place. When did you last hear either of the Julius Bittner symphonies, for example?

      • Agreed, Martin. My first thought at looking at that pile of manuscripts was that there might be something previously unknown in there.

  5. If no-one wishes to fund the museum – in the capital city no less – why on earth try to keep the house? Better to spend whatever can be raised to preserve the documents and make the museum worthwhile, surely, than to keep a building in the middle-of-nowhere for the same purpose?

  6. George Murnu says:

    OK, here I am in the quixotic idealist mode. Perhaps one of the various Enescu societies will start a project for this restauration and for saving the house. I am willing to contribute if a bank account is opened.

  7. The Romanian Government was able to find the EUR 9 million needed to organize this year’s edition of the Festival, but it cannot find the money to repair and preserve these monuments? What a shame!

  8. Stephen Carpenter says:

    Just thinking about all the abstract numbers 9,000,000 euros for the festival to show how culture-conscious a government is over one of its own composers that made good.

    A piled up desk full of what I would gather are manuscripts and letters of that same composer in need of cataloguing and transcribing followed by archiving, How many euros to hire a librarian, a music transcriber/scholar, and an archivist on a contract for a period of time?
    The big difference is that a festival is a public show and is sexy in public relations. This other task, not so much, but you wouldn’t have a festival at all without this other work being done on some level at some time.

    And about “lost” pieces? Remember discovering the early Bach Chorale Preludes in 1985?
    Grandma’s house is important because if he spent a lot of time there and maybe wrote there, that landscape infused his writing and we should be able to get in touch with his creativity but if one must choose, those stacks of papers is the treasure that must be secured in my opinion.

  9. Victor Eskenasy says:

    Yes, it’s true Ms Hope, the house from Mihaileni was Enescu’s mother property, but as already many times said and written, his parents divorced he used to spend much time with his mother and to compose in Mihaileni. It’s enough for saving it in a country that has practically no music museums and doesn’t respect it’s own cultural legacy !
    Your talking about the Bucharest house currently being restored is only disinformation ! Go only and have a look directly as I did…

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