A note on the new Schubert/Enescu, 1828 & 1916 (11.03.2022)

by Eugen Ciurtin


A note on the new Schubert/Enescu, 1828 & 1916

A note on the new Schubert/Enescu, Andante con moto from Trio in E flat major op. 100 (1828 | 1916), from 3 to 33 instruments. First modern audition yesterday, second audition in all, a third one this evening, Bucharest Phil under the baton of Gabriel Bebeșelea.

The concert program is alas very insufficient. Pages 5-6 on the printed version, by Octavia-Anahid Dinulescu, mentions nothing directly related to the very piece. (Note rare Romanian ‘Anahid’ manifestly is a cognate of Indo-Iranian minor goddess name Anāhitā.) She only cites a short(ened?) phrase by Maestro Bebeșelea, who musician discovered, edited and ‘repremiered’ this music. The other phrases are her considerations of Schubert’s and of Enescu’s life and works in general, all not that urgent.

This is a pity, as there are so many crucial things to know from the context and the score. 

The Beethoven-type Marcia funebre, highlighted by Gabriel Bebeșelea and by Enescu himself, was underlined on 28 January 1828 –  during the single audition in Schubert’s time – by Beethoven’s own musicians and Schubert’s friends: Bocklet (piano), Schuppanzigh (violin), and (pun unintended…) Linke (cello).  

What. A 38-pages full score, with incandescent proofs of how Enescu worked. Enough material for a symphonic piece as perfect transition from chamber music. A grand sample of a twofold Viennese style.  

When. Immediately after hearing the news of the Queen’s death. During that night of 3 to 4 March 1916, but read 18/19 February old style.

How. If this was written during that night in a hotel, it happened because Enescu was ill at the time. This may really be Bratu Hotel on Griviței. Enescu humorously adorned it later on with the nickname “Bratu Palace”. Alas it was no palace. He had there no piano – only paper and pen. In other instances Enescu did not recommend such modus operandi , considering it painful and risky. Here? The pressure dictates the music.

And it dictated even the copying of this new music. The solemn funeral circumstance solicited a rapid handwritten score to be played on, so a friend of him, the very young composer Dimitrie Cuclin, came in person at Enescu’s door to take page after page of the score to be copied. Isn’t this wonderful from both, in terms of practical devotion? Devotion is perhaps always practical or otherwise misses. Do we know similar examples? Well, perhaps not for Enescu. Yet in mid-1930 a certain Eliade wrote a short novel, The Serpent, precisely by this typographic trick: a person from the printing house came every morning to take a new manuscript chapter to the printing press, the author himself having thus troubles in following the narrative as he disposed no more of the conspicuously needed rereading… Once again (as always), Enescu’s work is much more feasible, a magister of an utterly different calibre.    

The good old Schubert monograph by Alfred Einstein had at this point a motto for its last chapter ‘Schubert and the Death’: nullique ea tristis imago. This comes from Statius’s Thebaid (vv. 105-106). This ‘nullique ea tristis imago cernitur’ may be once again considered as sonorous exergue for Queen Elisabeth of Romania’s funeral by his beloved, unique protégé. 

While having the majestic chance of presenting a virtually totally unknown piece, a music certainly unedited, unpublished, not studied, unsung – except by our conductor – one should not indulge in such carelessness. I don’t think at all I am unjust. While commenting upon this Schubert/Enescu, Sir Noel Malcom much more poignantly noted (1990, p. 117 n. 14): “Queen Marie reveals the extent of her knowledge of music when she writes that Enescu transcribed ‘a certain Haydn quartet’ for the funeral [of Carmen Sylva]”.  

After all, this is the Romanian Athenaeum’s music, Enescu’s house. Not another Enescu manuscript, stolen, gravely harmed and sold by an auction house. On the contrary, the listener cum reader of Enescu might have benefitted from the recently established musical connection between the Queen and the Musician. The auction of 22 September 2021 presented the Queen’s score of a 1880 Lied titled Junge Schmerzen. Or, still a Fürstin, her music and libretto (also for mezzo) are the immediate origin of Enescu’s own Junge Schmerzen composed at Peleș Castle on 22 August 1898. Junge (or not that Junge) Schmerzen everywhere.

The musicologist would have moreover yearned for knowing a bit more about Enescu’s instantaneous musical workings. How he reconceived Schubert’s piano material – how he perfectly generalised the Schubert piano score first with woodwinds (childishly coined by him once as ‘vânturi’) and violas, then winds | brass and then tutti.     


Against insanity. By all means.

Today, in the Athenaeum concert hall in Bucharest, Gabriel Bebeșelea conducts what he re|discovered at the Library of the Romanian Academy: the 105 years old fully completed manuscript by Enescu of his orchestration of the Andante from Schubert Trio op. 100.

A Norwegian folk song. A musical structure echoing Beethoven, his dearest Beethoven. One year in the making. His last, from a first draft in November 1827 up to right before the delirium of November 1828. Now most famous, back then a complete failure. This, for Schubert.

As for Enescu, one single night of March at the beginning of the war for orchestrating the whole Schubert score, as clearly written on top of his manuscript. The death of his admirable patron, Queen Elisabeth of Romanian better known as Carmen Sylva. A new move towards mourning: orchestrating from 3 to 33 instruments – this Schubert as it was one of the best played by the Queen or at the Queen’s schubertiades. Enescu’s score sunk into oblivion. No catalogue describing it professionally meanwhile, manuscript never printed. Except the funeral of the dedicatee the Queen, a former pupil of Clara Schumann, no public audition. A quasi new, fully new composition by Enescu.

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