Henri Coanda

Henri Coanda

Engineer & Innovator

Henri Marie Coandă is perhaps most famously known as the man who built the Coandă-1910, a pioneering aircraft often (controversially) acknowledged as the world’s first jet-propelled aviation machine. However, there is more to Coandă than this.

Born in the summer of 1886 into a middle-class Bucharest family, Coandă spent much of his early life trying to balance his father’s desire that he take up a military career with his own yearning to understand nature and science in its many forms. Bowing to his father’s wishes he enrolled in military school, graduating in 1904 as an artillery officer.

Despite this promising path Coandă continued to develop a keen interest in the mechanics of airplanes, and in 1908 his creative mind couldn’t be restrained any longer. Requesting leave from the military Coandă took a long road trip, an opportunity to clear his head and plan for the future. One year later he traveled to Paris and promptly enrolled in an aeronautical engineer course, graduating in 1910. At last he had found his niche in life.

That same year he worked out of Gianni Caproni’s workshop, designing and building the infamous Coandă-1910, a revolutionarily designed aircraft which still attracts controversy. Could this 4-cylinder piston engine plane really have taken flight? Was Coandă ahead of his time or a wishful thinker? We will never know for sure. What isn’t in dispute is that he went on to make many more innovative contributions to the aviation world.

Coandă lived in the UK between 1911 and 1914, where he designed the Bristol-Coanda Monoplanes. He then spent another spell in France building various propeller aeroplanes.

In his later years he developed the Coandă Effect, (research which greatly contributed to aerodynamic development in airplanes.) This has proved to be a major success when applied on a small scale, though it has never actually been proved useful for aircraft themselves.

Beyond the inventions which carried his name Coandă also developed several invaluable products. These include: beton-bois, a decorative material used in building construction; a device which detects underground liquids and a system which utilises solar energy to transform sea water into fresh water. All of his technical achievements can be found at the Technical Museum in Bucharest.

During his lifetime Henri Coandă was awarded many medals and distinctions for his contributions to science. These include the great gold \medal ‘Vielles Tiges’; ‘The Diploma for Scientific Research’ from UNESCO and ‘The medal of French Aeronautics’.

In 1969, at age 83, Coandă returned to his homeland of Romania, where he held directorships at institutions related to his first love – scientific development and aircraft.

Coandă died in Bucharest in November 1972 having reached the age of 86. Over 2500 separate inventions were the legacy of this man who was a true pioneer in his field.

He was buried in Bellu cemetery, the oldest and most famous burial ground in Bucharest. In 1995 the ‘Henri Coandă Air Force Academy’ was established in Brasov, while in 2004 the city’s international airport was renamed in his honor.

Mihai Eminescu

Mihai Eminescu

Poet

Mihai Eminescu is generally considered to be Romania’s most famous romantic poet. He was born Mihail Eminovici in January 1850 in Botosani, Moldavia, where he lived with his family until being sent away to school at age eight. Although an excellent general scholar, Eminescu’s writing ability was not revealed until 1866 when La mormântul lui Aron Pumnul (At the Grave of Aron Pumnul), a poem he had written as a tribute to his deceased teacher, was published.

After graduating at age sixteen Eminescu spent a further three years as a student in Vienna, where he is said to have thrown himself into all aspects of university life. During this period he gained notoriety as a popular writer and speaker.

At age twenty Eminescu’s label of ‘upcoming poet of distinction’ was strengthened when Titu Majorescu, a notoriously harsh literary critic, praised his work extensively. Eminescu gained further fans in the years that followed, largely due to the fact that he was writing poetry which drew on language from all regions of Romania, that he wasn’t afraid to use imaginative metaphors and that his work was available throughout the country.

After spending time working for two of the leading Romanian theatre troupes of the time Eminescu eventually settled into an office job in Bucharest. In his free moments he continued to write and publish poetry, as well as work on a novel.

In 1869 Eminescu co-founded a literary circle, which ultimately led to him reuniting with his estranged family. Meanwhile his writing interests spread to include the political. He wrote several articles challenging the experiences of ethnic groups in the Austro-Hungarian era, albeit under an assumed name. This was possibly the starting point of his career in journalism, which eventually led to the post of editor-in-chief at the newspaper Timpul. In this position he once again found a voice for his political opinions.

Eminescu had a complicated personality, one which many noted switched between extrovert and introvert, brooder and achiever, happiness and despair. Recent theories suggest he probably suffered from a bipolar disorder, although this cannot be proven one way or the other. What we do know is that Eminescu spent the final few years of his short life in need of medical care without an accurate diagnosis of his problems ever being reached.

Aged just 39 Eminescu passed away, but his legend lives on. His variously themed poems, later touched by nostalgic longings for childhood, are iconic, and in 21st century Romania Eminescu remains a figure close to the heart of people from all regions of his home country. His poetry has been translated into over fifty languages and is still widely studied in Romanian public schools today. His face appears on bank notes and many schools are named after him.

A self-professed ‘romantic’, Eminescu lived on the fringes of social convention, resisting the traditional lifestyle in his avoidance of marriage, money and formal education. Dying so tragically young further adds to this imagery, bringing an end to the life which produced such notable poems as Lacul (The Lake), 1876; Floare albastră (Blue Flower), 1884; Dorința (Desire), 1884 and Mai am un singur dor (I Have Yet One Desire),1883.

George Enescu

George Enescu

Musician & Composer

Romanian George Enescu, (known as Georges Enesco in France), was born on 9 August 1881 in a village called Liveni. By the time of his death, (4 May 1955), he was an accomplished violinist, pianist and conductor, considered to be not only Romania’s best musician but also one of the most talented composers of the 20th century. The story of his life between these key dates is both inspirational and fascinating.

Considered a child prodigy, Enescu displayed an outstanding talent for composing music from a young age. Work that he created at age five still survives to this day [ex: Pămînt românesc, (Romanian Land).] Recognising his son’s genius, Enescu’s father arranged for him to study music more formally. Consequently, at just seven years old he was enrolled at the Vienna Conservatory – one of the youngest ever students to do so. By aged ten he was giving private recitals at the Court of Vienna, playing works from esteemed composers such as Brahms and Mendelssohn.

Enescu graduated with a silver medal aged just twelve, and in 1895 (aged 14) he relocated to Paris, where he studied violin under the direction of Martin Pierre Marsick, composition with Jules Massenet and harmony with Andre Gedalge. He was popular amongst the staff, and recognised as being a student with an above average musical gift. George Enescu was only sixteen when his first serious piece of work was debuted in Paris. Poema Română was played by the Colonne Orchestra – the leading orchestra of the time, an honor that reflects his prodigal talent.

In 1923 Enescu conducted a concert by the Philadelphia Orchestra at Carnegie Hall in New York. This opportunity sparked what would become a lifetime relationship with the United States of America. In subsequent years he was to make violin recordings there, as well as conducting various top class orchestras.

In 1939 Enescu married Maria Rosetti, and they lived together in Bucharest throughout the period of WW2. However, the couple returned to Paris following the post-war occupation of Romania by the Soviets. This self-imposed exile, despite being based on crucial political ideology, caused him some amount of emotional pain for the rest of his life. Being separated from the country he loved was a heavy cross to bear.

Throughout his life Enescu provided inspiration to others. An accomplished violin teacher, Yehudi Menuhin was a former pupil who considered his mentor to be the greatest musician of all time. He wasn’t alone in this viewpoint. Enescu’s promotion of Romanian music gave him a place n the hearts of everyday people. His ability to take the essence of Romanian cultural heritage and meld it into the contemporary international music scene was astounding.

Enescu was also a very kind and generous man. During both world wars he spent time playing the violin for those injured in hospital. He also gave generously to financial schemes which funded music scholarships.

Modern day Bucharest hosts many memorials and tributes to George Enescu. The city’s international airport, a museum and even the village he was born in all bear his name.