While preparing George Enescu's third violin sonata (1926) for performance, I was struck by what I considered a completely distinctive musical language. Enescu's music exploits the tactile joys of being a violinist at the same time as exploring a structurally sophisticated form. After my initial impression of its Romanian folk character, there emerged elements of Brahms and also blues-style portamenti similar to those found in Ravel's violin sonata, composed in the same year. I was inspired to learn more about George Enescu's attitude towards violin virtuosity in his time, and how it challenged or aided his composing.
The primary focus of this thesis is to explore the notion of Enescu as the 'complete musician' by examining the link between violin virtuosity and composition in his works. I will examine the history of the definition of the term 'virtuoso' and discuss the conflict inherent in the roles of performer, teacher, conductor and composer in the first half of the twentieth century. The thesis focuses on the Enescu's third violin sonata, the most outstanding example of Enescu's idiomatic writing for violin. Equally a virtuoso piece as well as a composition in the neoclassical mould, it encapsulates the synthesis of roles evident in Enescu' s career.