Legende (1906)
For trumpet in C or Bb and piano
George Enescu (1881-1955)

Biographical Info

He was born in the village of Liveni (later renamed “George Enescu” in his honor), Dorohoi County at the time, today Botoşani County. He showed musical talent from early in his childhood. A child prodigy, Enescu created his first musical composition at the age of five. Shortly thereafter, his father presented him to the professor and composer Eduard Caudella. At the age of seven, he entered the Vienna Conservatory, where he studied with Joseph Hellmesberger, Jr., Robert Fuchs, and Sigismund Bachrich. He graduated before his 13th birthday, earning the silver medal. In his Viennese concerts young Enescu played works by Brahms, Sarasate and Mendelssohn. In 1895 he went to Paris to continue his studies. He studied violin with Martin Pierre Marsick, harmony with André Gedalge, and composition with Jules Massenet and Gabriel Fauré.

Many of Enescu’s works were influenced by Romanian folk music, his most popular compositions being the two Romanian Rhapsodies (1901–2), the opera Œdipe (1936), and the suites for orchestra. He also wrote five symphonies (two of them unfinished), a symphonic poem Vox maris, and much chamber music (three sonatas for violin and piano, two for cello and piano, a piano trio, quartets with and without piano, a wind decet (French, “dixtuor”), an octet for strings, a piano quintet and a chamber symphony for twelve solo instruments). A young Ravi Shankar recalled in the 1960s how Enescu, who had developed a deep interest in Oriental music, rehearsed with Shankar’s brother Uday Shankar and his musicians. Around the same time, Enescu took the young Yehudi Menuhin to the Colonial Exhibition in Paris, where he introduced him to the Gamelan Orchestra from Indonesia.

In 1923 he made his debut as a conductor in a concert given by the Philadelphia Orchestra in New York City, and he subsequently made frequent returns to the United States. It was in America, in the 1920s, that Enescu was first persuaded to make recordings as a violinist. He also appeared as a conductor with many American orchestras, and in 1936 he was one of the candidates considered to replace Toscanini as permanent conductor of the New York Philharmonic. In 1935, he conducted the Orchestre Symphonique de Paris and Yehudi Menuhin (who had been his pupil for several years starting in 1927) in Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 3 in G major. He also conducted the New York Philharmonic between 1937 and 1938. In 1939 he married Maria Rosetti (known as the Princess Cantacuzino through her first husband Mihail Cantacuzino), a good friend of the future Queen Marie of Romania. While staying in Bucharest, Enescu lived in the Cantacuzino Palace on Calea Victoriei (now the Muzeu Naţional George Enescu, dedicated to his work).

He lived in Paris and in Romania, but after World War II and the Soviet occupation of Romania, he remained in Paris.

He was also a noted violin teacher. Yehudi Menuhin, Christian Ferras, Ivry Gitlis, Arthur Grumiaux, and Ida Haendel were among his pupils. He promoted contemporary Romanian music, playing works of Constantin Silvestri, Mihail Jora, Ionel Perlea and Marţian Negrea.

He was a National Patron of Delta Omicron, an international professional music fraternity.

On his death in 1955, George Enescu was interred in the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.

Today, Bucharest houses a museum in his memory; likewise, the Symphony Orchestra of Bucharest and the George Enescu Festival—founded by his friend, musical advocate, and sometime collaborator, the conductor George Georgescu[4]—are named and held in his honor. Recently, Bacau International Airport was named George Enescu International Airport.

A solo work for trumpet and piano, composed by George Enescu (1881-1955) and premiered by Merri Franquin (1848-1934), professor of cornet at the Paris Conservatoire. It reflects the impressionistic style of Enesco’s teachers Jules Massenet and Gabriel Fauré. The title is an homage to Professor Franquin. The piece reflects an important step in the evolution of the trumpet from a more archaic limited instrument, to a fully chromatic and soloistic instrument.

Legende is in the key of C Minor, and begins with a simple lyrical melody which reappears twice. The second time, it is played during the climax in the higher octave, and in the muted conclusion, it appears again in the original low register. In between each statement of the melody are technical passages which require extensive triple tonguing and chromatic fingering. The piano accompaniment is chordal in the lyrical passages, and virtuosic in the technical sections, matching the difficulty of the trumpet part with extensive runs and arpeggios.

Suggested Equipment

The edition comes with both Bb and C trumpet parts.  I have performed it on both and find there are advantages and disadvantages to both horns.  Low concert C is a foundational pitch for the piece and many C trumpets’ low Cs are squirrely and often sharp.  You have more tuning control on a low D (which is what you would be dealing with playing a Bb trumpet) than an open C.  Legende is a big dark, Romantic work that also tends to lend itself to the more robust Bb trumpet.

All in all, I tend to favor my C trumpet for this work based primarily on the agility required in the chromatic and multiple tonguing areas.

The clips below were made on my Eclipse C trumpet.

Practice/Performance Tips

There is a fantastic video DVD of a masterclass given by my personal favorite trumpet soloist, Hakan Hardenberger.  He spends a great amount of time working with a very talented student on the ins and outs of this piece and does so in a much more thorough and direct manner than I could ever do here.  I highly recommend any serious trumpet student check out this DVD.  It’s around $50 so if that’s too rich, perhaps you could talk your studio teacher into getting a copy of this to be shared by the whole studio.  (That’s what I did for my studio!)

Legende’s range extends from a low A-flat to a high C, with an ossia passage that extends only to high B-flat. The piece requires extensive triple tonguing.

Where you decide to breathe in the opening few lines makes a significant musical difference so take care to think about where to breathe.  Personally, I like to wait and breathe in the 5th bar prior to the pickup to beat 6.

Beginning – Mouvt

In the section titled Mouvt, remain light and graceful and stay in the context of piano until the quintuplet 16ths.

Mouvt – Cedez

I play the next phrase marked Cedez a volonte (give way, as you wish) in two ways.  First, breaking the septuplet into 3-4, then the second pass, I phrase 4-3 and continue.

Mouv agite – Ier Mount

The climax of the piece occurs on the top of page 2.  The original version has us going up to a very dramatic high concert C.  The composer has also included an ossia (optional) version that takes us only up to a high concert Bb.  Many players choose to breathe after the 5th beat of the first measure of this phrase in order to have enough steam for the high C.  While this is perhaps prudent and safe, it takes something from the drama of the line, in my opinion.  If possible try not to breathe till after the concert F in the second measure.  This also creates a pickup to the accelerating triplets.  In this example I play the ossia version first.

Ier Mouvt

A couple notes about the section titled Vif.  The 6th and 8th measure of this section has a couple ascending flourishes.  They are not chromatic; play the right notes!  It reminds me of the triplet passages in Don Juan; awkward patterns and fingerings, just commit the section to muscle memory.  Also, be sure to keep tempo in the 32nd chromatic run.  You and the pianist need to arrive at the climatic concert Ab at the same time!


The final closing section calls for an unspecified mute.  Most prefer some kind of cup mute.  I demonstrate three different sounds here.  1. TrumCor fiber cup extended.  2. TrumCor fiber cup closed tight to the bell.  3.  TrumCor aluminum large round cup.

muted ending

Suggested Recordings

Hakan Hardenberger, Wynton Marsalis, Phil Smith, Eric Aubier, Charles Schleuter, George Vosburgh.

Trumpet masterclass with Hakan Hardenberger DVD; a must have!