Illustrious Romanians: Ten Plus Two To Know

by | August 24, 2018 |

Two years ago I made a Famous Romanians list. It’s time for another one. This time I’ll call them Illustrious Romanians.

Dracula is arguably the most famous “Romanian.” However, because he’s a literary invention I’m not putting him on the list. Although Dracula is based on the historical figure Vlad Țepeș (1431-1476) ), I’m not putting Vlad the Impaler on the list, either.

Illustrious Romanians, Historical: The Arts

1. Ion Luca Caragiale

Caragiale (1852-1912) is my Number One here, since he is the most important Romanian writer of all time. I chose him for the title image. The quote reads:  “You want to know the world? Look at it closely. You want to please yourself? Look at it from afar.”

Full disclosure: there is a reason Caragiale’s name comes to my mind first. During the summer I live across the street from the high school bearing his name on Calea Dorobanților. If anyone asks where I live, I give that school as my location. Everyone knows it.

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A couple of summers ago the sign got lit up. When I first saw it, I didn’t like it and complained about it to one of my friends. She said, “But everything was so grey here for so long. I like it lit up.” I’m used it to now.

2. Mihai Eminescu

Eminescu (1850-1889) is another great Romanian writer from the 19th century. I know his name mostly because of the street in Delia’s neighborhood that I cross all the time. Okay, not the most literary of all associations!

illustrious Romanians

He was a handsome devil who died young

I had a vague idea of Eminescu being connected with un tei ‘a linden tree’ so I looked it up. Sure enough, there’s Teiul lui Eminiescu ‘Eminescu’s linden tree’ in the city of Iași. It’s a major tourist attraction.

illustrious Romanians

Eminescu must have written a poem to it. It now needs a lot of propping up, not unlike the iconic cypress tree at Pebble Beach, California which I think, in addition to cables holding it up, has concrete poured it in

3. George Enescu

Enescu (1881-1955) was a major composer, violinist, pianist and director.

illustrious Romanians

I love the intensity of this image

Cultural footnote: Enescu is on the 5 lei note.

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Illustrious Romanians, Current: Sports

4. Simona Halep

Halep is a professional tennis player currently ranked #1 in the world.

illustrious Romanians

In mid-August Halep won the Rogers Cup in Toronto in a 3-set thriller. Just a couple of days ago she lost in the final at Cincinnati in another grueling 3-set match.

I mentioned her in a parenthetical aside in my previous Famous Romanians post, expressing hope for her future, Good call!

She is currently all over TV in this Rexona commercial

5. Gheorghe Hagi

Hagi, called Gică, is one of the best Romanian soccer players of all time as the best attacking midfielder in Europe during his time. He played in the 1980s and 90s.

illustrious Romanians

Illustrious Romanian, Current: The Arts

6. Alexandru Tomescu

Tomescu is a virtuoso violinist. I heard him play a couple of years ago in Bucharest and could hardly believe my ears. He is beyond good and justifiably world famous.

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He is also an amazing activist. His causes range from saving historical houses (most pertinently George Enescu‘s childhood home) to raising funds for blind children as well as helping deaf children obtain hearing aids. He has played his Stradivarius in the metro to show how much people appreciate fine music.

Here’s a super clip of him playing Paganini Caprice nr. 24

7. Marius Manole 

Manole is an actor. He graduated from the George Enescu University of Art in Iași and the Ion Luca Caragiale University for Theater Arts and Cinema in  Bucharest. So his educational pedigree is perfect for this post, since you now know who both of these institutional namesakes are.

illustrious Romanians

Now that’s the face of a guy I’d like to discuss the world with

8. Medeea Marinescu

Marinescu is a well-known actress who began her professional career at the age of 3.

Here she is with Marius Manole in the play Fa-mi loc! (Make room for me!)

She has been in at least 18 films and dozens of plays.

9. Mihai Șora

Born in 1916, now aged 101, Șora is a philosopher, essayist and political activist even today.

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In June of this year he won the European Citizen’s Prize, awarded by the European Parliament for his tireless promotion of democracy and democratic values. I can’t resist mentioning that in 2014 he married Luiza Palanciuc, a writer who is 56 years younger than he is.

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Way to go, Luiza and Mihai

10. Mihnea Costachi

At the other end of the age spectrum from Șora is Costachi who at 18 is an international chess master. Earlier this year he won the Chess Open International in Bulgaria.

illustrious Romanians

I could have put Costachi under the category Sports, but I like him here

He doesn’t have a wikipedia page (yet!) and doesn’t seem to do twitter or instagram, so here’s a link to his World Chess Federation page.

11. Andreea Esca

Esca is a TV reporter who I’ve seen for years on Pro TV News and in fashion magazines. I even happened to see her on occasion in the locker room of World Class gym when I was a member.

illustrious Romanians

She is very well known and respected and has been active in raising funds for cancer research.

Illustrious Romanians, Current: Politics

12. Klaus Iohannis

Iohannis was elected President of Romania in 2014. It was widely reported that it was the Romanian disaspora that handed him the win, since they perceived him as the anti-corruption candidate.

illustrious Romanians

Here he is in a recent government photo where he is responding to the events of August 10, 2018

See: All My Romanian Blogs


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This post was written by Julie Tetel Andresen

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