1901: Enescu: Two Romanian Rhapsodies, Op. 11, age 20

Lawrence Foster

The two Romanian Rhapsodies, Op. 11, for orchestra, are George Enescu’s best-known compositions. They were written in 1901, and first performed together in 1903. The two rhapsodies, and particularly the first, have long held a permanent place in the repertory of every major orchestra. They employ elements of lăutărească music, vivid Romanian rhythms, and an air of spontaneity. They exhibit exotic modal coloring, with some scales having ‘mobile’ thirds, sixths or sevenths, creating a shifting major/minor atmosphere, one of the characteristics of Romanian music.[1] They also incorporate some material found in the later drafts of Enescu’s Poème roumaine, Op. 1.[2]

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