Also known as Claude Romano, pianist, composer, musicologist, journalist, translator and music critic George Sbârcea was born on March 23, 1914 in Toplița, Harghita County. He attended the elementary school in his native town, continuing in middle and high school in Reghin, going to college in Cluj Napoca, where his teachers were Ana Voileanu-Nicoară, Augustin Bena, Marțian Negrea and George Simonis, and also obtaining his Law diploma.
Assistant composer with the Alhambra Revue Theatre in Bucharest (1937), where his pop song Ionel, Ionelule (Johnny Boy) was first performed, he worked for the Ministry of Propaganda, with the Secretarial Department and then with the Foreign Press Section, liaising with foreign journalists accredited in Romania. Fluent in Hungarian, German, French, Italian, English, and Swedish, George Sbârcea was awarded by Charles de Gaulle the Légion d’honneur in 1938, and in 1942 he received the Order of the Lion of Finland.
In 1947, George Sbârcea was arrested by the Communist government and sentenced to fifteen years in prison for having “betrayed the democratic ideals”. Released in 1956 following the repeated and insistent requests by several foreign embassies, he was a researcher with the Folklore Archives in Cluj Napoca (1957-66).
Selected works: Ionel, Ionelule; Anișoara; Fir-ai tu să fii de dragoste [Damn You, Love], pop songs; Povestea vieții lui George Enescu [George Enescu’s Life Story], Viața și cântecele lui Gică Petrescu [Gică Petrescu’s Life and Songs], monographs; Muza veselă [The Happy Muse], Jazzul, o poveste cu negri [Jazz, A Story with Negroes], O stradă cu cântec sau povestea musicalului [A Singing Street, or the Story of Musical], books on music.
George Sbârcea died on July 27, 2005, in Bucharest.