Silvia Șerbescu

Silvia Şerbescu was born on January 27, 1903 in Bucharest into a family of intellectuals. She trained at the Conservatory of Music in her native city with Emilia Sergiu and, later, with Constanţa Erbiceanu, who encouraged her to pursue a musical career as a concert pianist although she was just as a gifted mathematician and who also recommended her to the École Normale de Paris, where she studied with Lazare Lévy. School founder Alfred Cortot said, as quoted in a commemorative piece for Muzica by Lavinia Coman, PhD, that Silvia Şerbescu was “bright, particularly musical, endowed with remarkable comprehension capacities and a good technique, qualities which time will only develop in this so gifted an element”.

In 1929, Silvia Şerbescu made a triumphant debut in the capital of France – as a soloist, with Orchestre National de Paris under Ernest Anserment, and as a successful recitalist, at the Salle Pleyel. It was just after the young artist had been introduced, on April 8, 1928, to her fellow countrymen, playing with the Bucharest Philharmonic conducted by Ion Nonna Otescu.

Giving Romanian premieres of such works as Isaac Albéniz’s suite Iberia or George Enescu’s Sonata op. 24 no. 1 in F-sharp minor, Silvia Şerbescu also presented, a few decades after her mentor Alfred Cortot had played them in Romania and on the occasion of the French composer’s 100th birth anniversary, Claude Debussy’s Préludes. She was twice the partner of none other than George Enescu, whose esteem she won, as shows the great composer’s autograph on second recital’s program: “To my pianist tonight, such a remarkable musician, admiration and respect”.

Silvia Şerbescu toured in France, Italy, Poland, Yugoslavia, Yugoslavia Turkey, Sweden, Finland, Czechoslovakia, the USSR, collaborating with such famous conductors as Ernest Ansermet, Paavo Berglund, Václav Neumann, George Georgescu, Ionel Perlea, Constantin Silvestri, Mihail Jora, Theodor Rogalski and many others.

Appointed, after 1948, soloist of the Bucharest Philharmonic and teaching at the Bucharest Conservatory (Constantin Ionescu-Vovu, Marta Joja, Ioana Minei, Liliana Rădulescu, Elena Cosma, Theodor Paraschivescu, Lavinia Tomulescu Coman, Eugen Cicero rank among her students), Silvia Șerbescu received, in recognition of her artistic excellence, the Order of Cultural Merit for Art, Class 1 awarded by King Michael I (1943), the State Prize (1955) and Artist Emeritus title (1956).

Silvia Șerbescu died in Bucharest on April 22, 1965.

Monica Isăcescu