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.
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!
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.
3. George Enescu
Enescu (1881-1955) was a major composer, violinist, pianist and director.
Cultural footnote: Enescu is on the 5 lei note.
Illustrious Romanians, Current: Sports
4. Simona Halep
Halep is a professional tennis player currently ranked #1 in the world.
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 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.
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.
8. Medeea Marinescu
Marinescu is a well-known actress who began her professional career at the age of 3.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This post was written by Julie Tetel Andresen