Famous Romanians – Inventor Henri Coanda, medical professor Paulescu, and avant - garde poet Tzara
The three Romanians featured in this week's column all made very important contributions to the scientific and artistic worlds. It is also interesting to see that the connection point between them is that, even if they all had different political views and acted accordingly, they remained in our collective memory for the great good they did. We're talking about Romanian inventor Henri Coanda, professor of medicine Nicolae Paulescu, and avant garde poet Tristan Tzara.
Henri Marie Coanda was a Romanian inventor, aerodynamics pioneer and airplane builder. He invented a great number of devices, discovered the Coanda effect in fluid dynamics - which was the starting point for jet planes- and he designed a flying saucer. Henri Conda was born in Bucharest in 1886, the son of the General Constantin Coanda, mathematics professor at the National School of Bridges and Roads, and Aida Danet, daughter of the French physician Gustave Danet. He graduated the Military High School in Iasi and School of Artillery, Military and Naval Engineering in Bucharest.
In 1904 he was sent with an artillery regiment to Germany and he enrolled in the Technische Hochschule in Charlottenburg, Berlin. After that he continued his studies in 1907 – 1908 at the Montefiore Institute in Liege, Belgium. In 1905, he built a missile-airplane for the Romanian Army. In 1909 he enrolled in the École Nationale Superieure d'Ingenieurs en Construction Aéronautique .One year later (1910) he graduated as the head of the first class of aeronautical engineers. In 1910, he designed and built an aircraft known as the Coanda – 1910, which he displayed publicly at the second International Aeronautic Salon in Paris that year. Between 1911 and 1914, he worked as technical manager of the Bristol Airplane Company in United Kingdom, where he designed several airplanes named the Bristol-Coanda Monoplanes. In 1912 one of these aircraft won a prize at the British Military Aeroplane Competion.
In 1915, he returned to France where, working during World War II, he designed and built three different models of propeller airplane, including the Conada-1916, for the company Delaunay – Belleville in Saint-Denis. This design was to be used in the 1950s Sud Aviation Caravelle transport airplane, for which Coanda was a technical consultant. In 1934 Henri Coanda obtained the French patent for the Coanda –effect. During World War II, in the then occupied France he worked for the German Army helping them in the developing of the turbo propeller drive system. In 1969, during the opening early years of the Ceausescu regime, Henri Coanda returned to Romania, where he was director of the Institute for Scientific and Technical Creation (INCREST) and in 1971 reorganized the Department of Aeronautical Engineering of the Polytechnic University of Bucharest.
Henri Coanda received various awards, among which the Harry Diamond Laboratories Award, Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Aeronautical Society, Grand Gold Medal "Vielles Tiges",UNESCO Award for Scientific Research and Medal of French Aeronautics, Order of Merit. He died in Bucharest on November 25, 1972 at the age of 86.
Nicolae Constantin Paulescu was a Romanian physiologist, professor of medicine, the discoverer of pancreatine, later named insulin. He was born in Bucharest in 1869 and learned French, Latin and ancient Greek at an early age, as well as being a very good student in drawing, music and natural sciences, especially physics and chemistry. In 1888 he enrolled in the medical school in Paris. In 1897 he graduated with the Doctor of Medicine degree and became assistant surgeon at Notre Dame du Perpetuel Secours Hospital. In 1900, Nicolae Paulescu returned to Romania, where he remained until his death in 1931, and worked as Head of the Physiology Department of the University of Bucharest Medical School, as well as a Professor of Clinical Medicine at the Saint Vincent de Paul Hospital in Bucharest. In 1916, he succeeded in developing an aqueous pancreatic extract which he injected into a diabetic dog. He then observed a normalizing effect on blood sugar levels. After World War I, he resumed his research, publishing it in 1921 on the Romanian Section of the Society of Biology in Paris. Paulescu died in 1931 in Bucharest. In spite of his extremist right-wing political views, professor Paulescu is acknowledged for his scientific work and contribution to the progress of medicine.
Tristan Tzara was a Romanian - French avant garde poet, essayist, performance artist, journalist, playwright, literary and art critic, composer and film director. He was best known for being one of the founders and central figures of the Dada anti-establishment movement. Tzara was born into a Jewish Romanians family - as Samuel/Samy Rosenstock, in the village of Moinesti, Bacau County in the historical region of Moldavia in 1896. He moved to Bucharest at the age of eleven, when he was already interested in the Symbolism movement and he attended the Schemitz-Tierin boarding school. After he completed his secondary education at a state-run high school, in 1914 he enrolled at the University of Bucharest studying Mathematics and Philosophy, but did not graduate. A year later, he left Romania for the city of Zurich and he applied for the Faculty of Philosophy at the university there. During World War I Tzara’s shows at the Cabaret Voltaire and Zunfthaus zur Waag, as well as his poetry and art manifestos positioned him at the forefront of early Dadaism. Before the end of the war, Tzara had assumed the position of Dada's main promoter and manager, helping the Swiss group establish branches in other European countries. In June 1916, he began editing and managing the periodical Dada. He is often considered as having inspired many young modernist writers to affiliate with the group, in particular the Frenchmen Luis Aragon, Andre Breton and Paul Eluard. After he moved to Paris in 1919, he joined the staff of “Litterature” magazine, which marked the first step in the movement's evolution toward Surrealism. Tzara became involved in a number of Dada experiments, on which he collaborated with Breton, Aragon,or Paul Eluard. Dada activities in Paris culminated in the March 1920 variety show at the Theatre de l’Oeuyre, which featured readings from Breton, Picabia, Dermée and Tzara's earlier work, "The First Heavenly Adventure of Mr. Antipyrine and his melody, "Symphonic Vaseline". This personal vision on art defined his Dadaist plays “The Gas Heart” (1921) and “Handkerchief of Clouds” (1924). He continued to write and became more seriously interested in theater. And in 1924, he published and staged the play “Handkerchief of Clouds”, which was soon included in the repertoire of Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Ruses.
He also collected his earlier Dada texts as the Seven Dada Manifestos. The poet became involved in further developing Surrealist techniques, and, together with Breton drew one of the better-known examples of “exquisite corpses”. In 1934 Tzara wrote the preface of the collection of Surrealist poems written by his friend Rene Char. During the World War II he merged his activities as an art promoter with the cause of anti-fascism and he was close to the French Communist Party. He returned to Romania on an official visit in 1946-1947 as part of a tour in few communist countries during which he also visited Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Yugoslavia. In October 1956, Tzara visited Hungary where the government of Imre Nagy was coming into conflict with the Soviet Union. Tzara combined his humanist and anti-fascist perspective with a communist vision, joining the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War and the French Resistance during World War II, and serving a term in the National Assembly. After the “Hungarian revolt” (1956), Tzara distanced himself from the Communist Party and in 1960 he was among the intellectuals who protested against the Algerian War. In 1961, in recognition of his work as a poet, Tzara was awarded the prestigious Taormina Prize. He died in 1963 in Paris.
By Mariana Ganea, guest writer