Constantin Silvestri

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Constantin Silvestri (31 May 1913, Bucharest – 23 February 1969, London) was a Romanian conductor and composer.


Early life

Silvestri, born of Austro-Italian-Romanian stock, was brought up on his own by his mother, his father dying from alcoholism and his stepfather dying when the boy was 16. He had learnt how to play the piano and organ before the age of 6. He played the piano in public at 10 and was a skilled improviser.[1] He studied at the Târgu Mureş Conservatoire, and later at the Bucharest Conservatoire. His teachers in Bucharest included Mihail Jora (composition) and Florica Muzicescu (piano). Despite not having taken conducting classes he was already appearing as conductor in his teens, making his debut in 1930 with the Bucharest Radio Symphony Orchestra in a concert which included The Rite of Spring[1] and his own composition Prelude and Fugue (Toccata)


Silvestri's success in this 1930 National Radio Orchestra of Romania concert persuaded him to follow conducting as a career. He conducted at the Romanian National Opera from 1935 on, and, following the brief tenures of two caretakers, he also directed the Bucharest Philharmonic Orchestra for six years as successor to George Georgescu, in disgrace as a Nazi collaborator. Georgescu, ironically, assumed directorship of the Radio Orchestra; following Silvestri's emigration to the West, Georgescu would resume his place at the head of the Philharmonic, shortly thereafter renamed the George Enescu Philharmonic.[2] From 1948 to 1956, Silvestri taught at the Bucharest Conservatoire (Conservatorul din Bucureşti), where he founded its Conducting Department. Among Silvestri's students were Sergiu Comissiona, Marius Constant, Anatol Vieru, Iosif Conta, Edgar Cosma. By the 1950s Silvestri was accepting guest engagements in the USSR, Czechoslovakia and Hungary. His career in Romania came to a climax in 1958 with the highly successful Romanian premiere of Oedipe in Bucharest.[1]

After leaving his home country Silvestri made Paris his domicile in 1959, also travelling to Australia that year, and appearing with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Philadelphia Orchestra in 1960-61, and making a number of recordings in Paris, London and Vienna for EMI.[1]

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