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This report is taken from PN Review 82, Volume 18 Number 2, November - December 1991.

George Enescu (1881-1955) T.J.G. Harris
In a letter to Jacques de Lecretelle, Marcel Proust listed the principal elements that had gone into his evocation, in A la recherche du temps perdu, of the 'Vinteuil Sonata': a phrase from Saint-Saëns's Violin Sonata in D minor, a motif from the Good Friday music in Parsifal, and - for that 'source of keen pleasure when, below the delicate line of the violin-part, slender but robust, compact and commanding,' Swann 'had suddenly become aware of the mass of the piano-part beginning to surge upward in plashing waves of sound … ' - the Sonata for Violin and Piano by César Franck, 'especially as played by Enescu'. Proust heard Enescu play the sonata in 1910, probably at the salon of the Romanian princess Elena Bibescu, the friend of Proust and patroness of Enescu, who was a fine pianist and may have accompanied Enescu on this occasion.

According to Noel Malcolm, in his fine recent book, George Enescu: His Life and Music, 'it seems that Enescu was never introduced to Proust (despite their mutual friendship with Reynaldo Hahn), and he claimed never to have read the description of the Vinteuil Sonata … but the truth is that he had read enough to be shocked by the thought that Proust's violinist, Morel, might be modelled on him in any way at all.' This is scarcely surprising, considering Morel's character and considering the character of Enescu, about whom Nadia Boulanger remarked, 'I think no-one met Enescu without revering him; he was a ...


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