George Enescu, Born Aug. 19, 1881, in the village of Liveni-Virnav (now Georges Enescu), Romania; died May 4, 1955, in Paris; is often described as an eclectic composer; a creative force that wondered and never quite found a completely unique language. It is true that he excelled as composer, violinist, conductor, pianist, teacher, and as an internationally renowned figure in the music world. But there remains the question if in another time, not the early 20th century, he might have been seen as a volcanic Renaissance man instead of a musician whom never quite managed to find his stylistic voice. This prejudice, along with other circumstances: a career divided by the conflicting demands of composing and performing; and his cosmopolitan life style and loyalty to two countries, France and Romania; and a boom of great composer from Russia, Hungry, France and Germany, has caused his music (even in his own time) to be obscured and undervalued by the music world at large. It’s obvious that his busy schedule as virtuoso, teacher and organizer allowed him little time for creative work: his output especially after 1914 was therefore small with his more ambitious works sometimes long in the making, and many others left unfinished. Let us not forget, though, that the date 1914 marks the start of WW1, and that the changes and turmoil of such times plays its own part in this discussion. The impact of a life lived through two world wars must have been staggering by any standards, and without a doubt plays its part in the ferment and productivity of an artist’s mind.
The Opus 18: Piano Suite No.3 Pièces Impromptues (1913–1916), represent a compositional journey that starts in 1912 with Enescu’s Opus 17: Symphony No. 2 in A major (1912–1914), the symphony’s menacing last movement ‘un poco lento, marziale’ reflects the terrors already underway in Europe; and culminates with his Opus 21: Symphony No. 3 in C major, with chorus (1916–1918), the end of WW1 and the beginning of what may be considered his mature style.
The Piano Suite No.3 sits right in the sonorous heart of this transition period. And therefore acts as a window, a musical landscape, through which the pathos of the war years illuminates the fruition in his later mature works. Poetic, reflective, and structurally compact, the seven piano piece of the suite Nr.3 represent the main musical influences that most inspired Enescu’s mind, not clones, but finely chiseled jewels honed out from the depths of his own creative mind; made his own by fusing the original influences with a new, unique and personal meaning. The influences inspiring the pieces are sometimes glaringly obvious; but their placement and denotation are complete and homogeneously original. It is apparent that here is a composer yet to be completely discovered, thoughtfully reevaluated and revived by musicians and public to his deserved stature. He has with hindsight been recognized as Romania’s greatest composer.
The influence of folk music traditions was a powerful force and interest among nearly all composers of Russia and Eastern Europe from the later part of the 19th century to the middle of the 20th century. But no other composer besides Bartók, so truly understood the significance of researching and cataloging, as well as utilizing the expressive powers of this music in his own work, as did Kodály. Born 16 Dec. 1882, Kecskemét; and died in Budapest, 6 March 1967, He was together with Bartók one of the most important creators of the new Hungarian art music based on folk sources directly resulting from his own research. He divided his time between composing, ethnomusicology and education; but had a constant creative career lasting nearly 70 years. In 1921 Bartók described his music saying: ‘Kodály’s compositions are characterized in the main by rich melodic invention, a perfect sense of form, a certain predilection for melancholy and uncertainty. He does not seek Dionysian intoxication – he strives for inner contemplation.’ The 7 Piano Pieces op.11, are a collection works composed between 1910 and 1918. It is astounding that Kodály´s unique language renders this compilation of compositions utterly coherent stylistically, even with and eight year interval of their completion; four years of which were spent under the throws of World War 1. It is a tribute to his amalgamation of folk music with his unique individuality, keen sense of structure and deep introspection, that these pieces completely embody the Hungarian spirit.
In 1927 Kodály composed the virtuosic piano composition entitled “Marosseki Tankoc or ‘Dances of Marosszek’. The title speaks for itself and is a revelation of the Hungarian folk spirit merged with a poetic and brilliant pianism.