“He radiated optimism. His students loved him not only for his professionalism, but especially for his joviality… He used to talk proudly about how, as a jury member of some international competition, he fought convincingly for the Romanian candidates”, wrote Marcel Frandeş about the one in whose debt the Romanian violin school will eternally be.
Ştefan Gheorghiu (1926 – 2010), brother to pianist Valentin Gheorghiu and for a time father-in-law to soprano Angela Gheorghiu, began studying the violin aged 5 in his native city of Galaţi with the celebrated Eduard Caudella. The two brothers’ talent was quickly noticed, both of them entering with grants, on the recommendation of George Enescu, the Conservatoire de Paris, where Ştefan Gheorghiu became a student of Maurice Heditt. Back in Romania when the war started, he trained with Vasile Filip Garabet Avakian (violin) and Mihail Jora (music theory) and in 1959 pursued further studies in Moscow with none other than David Oistrakh. In 1943, aged 17, Ştefan Gheorghiu made his solo debut under Mihail Jora in Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, in 1946 he was appointed soloist of the Bucharest Philharmonic, and twelve years later he was awarded, together with his brother Valentin, the prize for the best performance of Enescu’s Sonata no. 3 in A minor “dans le caractère Populaire roumain” in the first George Enescu International Competition.
Ştefan Gheorghiu, Valentin Gheorghiu and cellist Radu Aldulescu founded Trio Bucureşti, touring many countries and recording in Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. As a soloist he performed in more than 2000 events in Romania and overseas, working with such conductors as George Georgescu, Mihai Brediceanu, Constantin Silvestri, Emanuel Elenescu, Franz Konwitschny, Kirill Kondrashin, Jean Perisson and Karel Ančerl.
Equally interested in contemporary music, Ştefan Gheorghiu premiered works by Romanians Pascal Bentoiu, Alfred Mendelssohn, Paul Constantinescu or Wilhelm Berger.
Sitting in the juries of such prestigious violin competitions as Jacques Thibaud (Paris), Tchaikovsky (Moscow), Niccolò Paganini (Genoa), Queen Elisabeth (Brussels), Henryk Wieniawski (Poznań) and Tibor Varga (Sion), Ștefan Gheorghiu was also a generous pedagogue at the National University of Music in Bucharest, where he taught Gabriel Croitoru, Alexandru Tomescu, Mihaela Martin, Corina Belcea, Dan Claudiu Vornicelu, Silvia Marcovici and Adelina Oprean.
“I strived to make myself a servant of music, and not to make music my servant” – such was the mission statement of violinist and teacher Ştefan Gheorghiu, the most prolific tutor of great violinists to rise to fame since the end of the 1960s.