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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 HolenderArtexim, 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.

I had to listen to the classical music because it calms me down, calms my nerves down. “Novak Djokovic

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.

Many fail to realize this great recording industry was built by so-called jazz artists. And at the other end of the spectrum, a base in European classical music as well.” Ahmad Jamal

In a way, the history of jazz’s development is a small mirror of classical music’s development through the centuries.” Mike Figgis

4. Not surprisingly, many of the best contemporary musicians have some training in classical music.

When I was younger, studying classical music, I really had to put in the time. Three hours a day is not even nice – you have to put in six.” Alicia Keys

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.

Music has always been transnational; people pick up whatever interests them, and certainly a lot of classical music has absorbed influences from all over the world.” Yo-Yo Ma

6. Classical music appeals to our sense of symmetry and order.

I don’t know if it’s a sign of all the chaos that is happening out there or not, but I’ve lately craved the structure and order of classical music, the balance and symmetry.” Helen Reddy 

7. Classical music is evocative. It provokes the imagination and facilitates introspection.

8. Classical music engages all of our faculties: both our creative and analytical sides. 

Given the many reasons why people  love classical music, the popularity of the George Enescu Festival is not surprising.

Claudia Moscovici, Romanticism and Postromanticism