The George Enescu Festival: Why We (Still) Love Classical Music
by Claudia Moscovici
The George Enescu Festival in Bucharest is not only a highlight in Romanian culture, but also one of the most exciting and biggest classical music festivals in Europe. Named after the prestigious Romanian composer and violinist George Enescu (1881-1955), who is best known for his Romanian Rhapsodies, the festival focuses on Enescu’s work and offers the best in classical music, internationally.
Every two years, for several weeks during the month of September, Bucharest becomes the classical music capital of Europe. George Enescu and his friend and collaborator George Georgescu organized the first festival in 1958. Although the festival was banned for a period of time during Ceausescu’s dictatorship, it has been reestablished and grown since the Romanian revolution of 1989. It is organized by its Artistic Director Ioan Holender, Artexim, ArClub–The Center for Cultural Projects of the Municipality of Bucharest and the Foundation Art Production.
The festival’s motto, “Magic exists” (“Magia Exista”), emphasizes the beauty of classical music; its capacity to mesmerize all generations across cultural boundaries; its unifying force regardless of our political and ideological differences; its endurance throughout centuries, in a magic that still captivates us. Few products of the human mind, talent and creation have such a lasting power and positive effect on our cultures and psyches. I’ve included below a list of some of the reasons offered by celebrities around the world for why we still love classical music.
1. Classical music soothes the mind and delights the senses.
2. Classical music supports the continuity of culture, in an age of mass media onslaught, when we risk losing the best achievements of past cultures.
“In these confused times, the role of classical music is at the very core of the struggle to reassert cultural and ethical values that have always characterized our country and for which we have traditionally been honored and respected outside our shores.” Lorin Maazel
3. Much of modern music, such as jazz, rock and pop, is influenced by classical music.
4. Not surprisingly, many of the best contemporary musicians have some training in classical music.
5. Classical music is international, absorbing influences from diverse cultures and appealing to people across the world. It’s as close to a universal language as we have. In that sense, it’s a unifying force for humanity.
6. Classical music appeals to our sense of symmetry and order.
7. Classical music is evocative. It provokes the imagination and facilitates introspection.
“A love of classical music is only partially a natural response to hearing the works performed, it also must come about by a decision to listen carefully, to pay close attention, a decision inevitably motivated by the cultural and social prestige of the art.” Charles Rosen
Given the many reasons why people love classical music, the popularity of the George Enescu Festival is not surprising.
Claudia Moscovici, Romanticism and Postromanticism