Sad death of Romanian virtuoso, 71

Sad death of Romanian virtuoso, 71


norman lebrecht

August 13, 2023

The outstanding Romanian violinist Sherban Lupu died of a heart attack this weekend. He worked 25 years as professor at the University of Illinois and was a noted authority on the composer Georges Enescu.

Toccata Classics producer Martin Anderson writes: ‘ He was a figure of some standing in Bucharest – but as an indication of the warmth of his personality, when he heard, about five years ago, that my son, Alex, was taking violin lessons, he offered to come and play to him the next time he was in London. My in-laws, with whom Alex lives, were then renting a flat in Barnes and so I picked Sherban up from central London in a cab, we drove out to the far side of the Hammersmith Bridge and he gave Alex and family a half-hour solo concert, stopping every so often to ask what else they might like to hear.’


  • HORIA says:

    George (not Georges) Enescu…

    • Brian L says:

      It’s actually Georges Enesco.
      In history, Romania seems to have always had the idiocy by banning and shaming all their greatest artists during their life, then recognizing their greatness (and focusing on the Romanian version of their names, that they despised) after their deaths.

  • Sandy Salzinger says:

    What sad news. I remember Sherban years ago in Josef Gingold’s violin class at Indiana University. A wonderful person and an absolutely fabulous violinist.

  • Rob Cowan says:

    Sherban was a lovely man and a terrific player. His Enescu discs are among the best of modern times …. he had the right robust sound and rhapsodic approach.
    When a late musician friend of mine Trevor Jenkins met Sherban he described him as a cross between Vic Reeves and Dracula. I think Sherban would have chuckled at that description! God rest him.

  • David K. Nelson says:

    Sad to learn of this. His CD of Enescu’s Sonata No. 3 and the unaccompanied Sonata of Bartók is well worth seeking out – real virtuoso flair.

  • Nathaniel Rosen says:

    A dear friend and colleague from my days at the University of Illinois is gone. Sherban was a great violinist and a wonderful chamber music partner. Very sad.

  • Evan says:

    Such sad news.

    I met Sherban on several occasions, drawn together by a mutual love of Enescu’s music. His signed copies of Electrecord / Toccata Classics and other recordings in addition to his volume on “The Fiddler’s Art” are treasured possessions. In the early days of the London Enescu Society, he insisted on playing an all-Enescu programme, rather than sticking to the Society’s model of Enescu within an international context of other composers. Of course, he lived every note. But, Sherban’s repertoire was far wider, as I note in the following opening paragraph from my review of his Ysaye disc. We kept up sporadic email correspondence over the years and he was always inviting me to Romania to hear “some real music”. He will be sorely missed.

    “I have known and admired Sherban Lupu’s work for many years. His promotion of the major and lesser-known violin repertoire of George Enescu (much of which he discovered, painstakingly edited and subsequently published and recorded on Toccata Classics) is worthy of greater attention. Incidentally, a second volume of Unknown Enescu is long overdue. [N.B. now available]. I referenced his ground-breaking recording of the Caprice Roumain in an earlier blog post reviewing a new recording of the piece and I feel that Lupu’s reading still comes out on top. That led to a fine recording of music by the all-but-unknown – outside Romania at least – composer Theodor Grigoriu. Then a series of six releases focussed on the music of Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst, another composer of finger-achingly virtuosic violin music, also for Toccata Classics. Some violinists, even top flight ones, occasionally programme or record a work Enescu or Ernst to prove their credentials, but Sherban Lupu really lays down the gauntlet and shows what he’s made of by taking monumental challenges head on.”

  • Eric Mueller says:

    My dear friend of 50 years is gone. I am better for having known him, both as a violinist and person. I cherish his memory. At least he didn’t suffer through a protracted illness.
    My heart goes out to Daniela his wife.

  • Christopher Horner says:

    I was fortunate to have some lessons from Sherban in my teens when he deputised for my teacher. I was enormously impressed by his playing; such ease and that bewitching sound, but also by his personality,ideas and outlook. Famed as he rightly is for the works he brought to light, his Schubert was also outstanding and a recital he gave at St.John’s Smith Square with Menahem Pressler in the 90s which included the Schubert Fantasy and Enesco’s 3rd Sonata remains a special memory for me, and no doubt others.Very grateful to have had contact with Sherban Lupu. RIP.

  • Dargomyzhsky says:

    Sad to hear. An unkempt but genuine artist.