Romania’s Musical Marvel: The George Enescu Festival 2023

George Enescu International Festival

Dive into the symphonic universe of the George Enescu Festival, a spectacular meld of history and artistry, taking center stage in Bucharest, Romania.

This August to September, the streets of Bucharest hum to the rhythm of classical masterpieces, courtesy of the George Enescu International Music Festival.

Romania’s unparalleled composer

Heralded as one of Europe’s classical music crowns, this festival is inspired by none other than George Enescu, Romania’s unparalleled composer. Did you know that Enescu (or Georges Enesco, as he’s known in France) began his melody weaving journey at the age of five? By thirteen, he had completed his studies at Vienna Conservatory and was off to Paris to refine his craft under iconic mentors like Jules Massenet and Gabriel Fauré.

His compositions, infused with Romanian folklore, still echo through time. While many recognize his Romanian Rhapsodies, his other works, like the opera Oedip and the symphonic poem Vox Maris, are equally mesmerizing.

Making waves in both Europe and America, Enescu’s reputation was unparalleled. The 1920s saw him gracing the U.S. with his violinist and conductor personas, even being considered as a possible successor for Arturo Toscanini at the New York Philharmonic. But did you know his connection with legends like Yehudi Menuhin? In 1935, they performed Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 3 together – a momentous collaboration!

However, George’s life wasn’t just music. In 1939, he tied the knot with Maria Rosetti. Contrary to popular belief, the couple didn’t live in the grand Cantacuzino Palace, which now stands as a museum dedicated to his work, but a more modest abode behind it. As WWII raged on, Enescu was in Paris during the Soviet occupation of Romania in 1944 and decided not to return.

Sadly, 1955 saw the maestro’s demise. Yet, his legacy lives on with Romania’s George Enescu Festival and Bucharest’s Symphony Orchestra. And for the wanderlust driven? You might land at Bacau International Airport, which too honors him.

The Birth of the Festival

Initiated in 1958 by Enescu’s comrade, George Georgescu, the festival’s debut was nothing short of legendary, especially with performances like Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins and Enescu’s opera, Oedip. Originally a triennial event, it wasn’t until 2001 that it shifted to a bi-annual beat.

And here we are in 2023, eagerly awaiting this festival’s wonders. With anticipated performances by powerhouses like the London Symphony Orchestra, Maggio Musicale Orchestra, and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, it’s a feast for the ears.

A tip for those new to the fest? Watch out for the “Midnight Concerts” at the Romanian Atheneum. They’re a refreshing blend of tradition and innovation, starting at 10:30pm. Cristian Măcelaru, the festival’s artistic director, suggests, “These midnight concerts push the boundaries of classical music.”

If you’re plotting your musical journey, is your go-to guide. A heads up, though, some of these musical treats sold out super fast, but with over 200 events, there’s always a melody waiting for you.



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