The National Museum “George Enescu” was opened in the Cantacuzino Palace, one of the most beautiful buildings in Bucharest, Romania, a historical monument and one of the European Heritage Label buildings.
Cantacuzino Palace is located on Celea Victoriei no. 141, Bucharest, Romania. Built by one of the most famous architects in Romania Ion D. Berindey between 1901 and 1903 in a splendid Art Nouveau style with French Baroque influences by order of the legendary wealthy Gheorghe Grigore Cantacuzino, mayor of Bucharest and former prime-minister, leader of the Conservative Party.
For the decoration of the building, the architect collaborated with renowned artists of the time – G. D. Mirea, Nicolae Vermont and Costin Petrescu – for the mural paintings, the architect Emil Wilhelm Becker for sculptures and sculptural decoration and the Krieger House in Paris for the interior decoration (tapestry, chandeliers, lamps, stained-glasses etc). The facade is distinguished by the spectacular shell-shaped glass awning above the entrance, which could be considered a visual emblem of the city of Bucharest.
The interior decoration denotes not only opulence and luxury, but also a lot of refinement. Things and expensive materials, white and green marble, leather Cordoba, onyx, bronze statues, panels, painted ceramics, American oak flooring, walls cladded in stucco-marble, ceilings with profiles and ornaments sculptured in plaster and bronze, adorn the palace. The furniture pieces are part of the same trend.
After the death of Gheorghe Cantacuzino, in 1913, the palace was inherited by his son, Mihail G. Cantacuzino and his wife, Maria (Maruca Rosetti-Tescanu). Mihail died prematurely in 1929. Mihail’s wife Maria remarried in December 1939 George Enescu, a Romanian composer, violinist, pianist, conductor, and teacher, seen by many as Romania’s greatest musician.
The palace was famous for the sumptuous musical evenings that Mihail Cantacuzino and his wife Maruca organized here. The musical evenings and auditions to which George Enescu normally participated, were known and enjoyed by important names of Romanian and foreign aristocracy. The couple lived, in 1945-1946, in the house situated near the palace, which was initially intended as an administrative building.
The building – known as Cantacuzino Palace at the time – hosted the Presidency of the Council of Ministers in the eve of World War II.
After the death of George Enescu in 1955, his wife stated in her will that the palace would host a museum dedicated to the artist. In 1956, “The National Museum George Enescu” was established.
The permanent exhibition of the museum includes three rooms of the palace, displaying photographs, manuscripts, various documents, diplomas, medals, drawings, sculptures, musical instruments, costumes, furniture, decorative art, personal objects, a casting of the artist’s hands and his mortuary mask.
The Cantacuzino Palace was conceived after the model of Parisian nobility residences, being among the edifices that created Bucharest’s image as “The Little Paris”.