The world of classical music is in the spotlight for the following month: The George Enescu International Competition reaches its 17th edition.
The George Enescu Competition is one of the greatest events in the musical world, being recognized as one of the most important platforms for promoting and launching future outstanding musicians. The Competition is an extension of the George Enescu International Festival, the biggest cultural event held in Romania and one of the biggest classical music festivals in Eastern Europe. The winners of the competition gain, besides prizes in cash, the opportunity to perform on stage with orchestras renowned world-wide.
The first editions of the Competition and the Festival were launched simultaneously in 1958, three years after the death of the great composer, violinist, pianist and conductor George Enescu, as a form of recognition for the musician’s genius. The competition was structured in only two sections, violin and piano, which were later followed by two more: cello and composition.
In 2014 the Competition becomes a separate event from the George Enescu Festival; both the Competition and the Festival continue to be held every two years, but alternatively, thus maintaining Bucharest’s place in the spotlight of classical international musical events. Since 2014, the winners gain the opportunity to perform in the next edition of the George Enescu Festival.
The prestige of the George Enescu Competition:
Many personalities participated even from the first edition and the prestige of the George Enescu Festival and Competition kept growing exponentially each year. Among the participants who attended the festivals over the years, some worth mentioning are the Vienna Philharmonic, conducted by Herbert von Karajan, the Stockholm Philharmonic, conducted by Sergiu Celibidache or the London Philharmonic, directed by Sir John Barbirolli. In 2018, year which marked the 60th anniversary of the George Enescu International Competition’s first edition and 105 years since George Enescu founded the National Composition Prize, more than 400 musicians from 46 countries signed up.
Over the years, the competition lead to the launch of some of the greatest Romanian musicians, such as pianists Radu Lupu, violinist Silvia Marcovici, soprano Ileana Cotrubas, mezzo-soprano Viorica Cortez, composer Dan Dediu, but also launched the careers of now renowned international musicians, such as pianist Elisabeth Leonskaja, soprano Agnes Baltsa, or cellist Zlatomir Fung. Here you can read an interview with Russian pianist Daria Parkhomenkothe, the winner of the Enescu Competition in 2018, where she speaks about her favourite composers and her encounters with Enescu’s music.
This year’s edition during the pandemic
The 2020 Competition takes place between August 29 and September 20, the general public having access to the Opening Gala and the first two rounds online and free. The organizers recommended the public to donate to organizations which raise money to supply hospitals with equipment destined for the fight against the virus instead of buying concert tickets.
The Opening Gala Concert held on August 29 established a record audience for the Competition’s online live streams, with 3,027 spectators watching the concert, compared to only 1,656 viewers in 2018. The concert was also streamed on www.festivalenescu.ro, but also on other platforms, such as TVR channels or Radio Romania Musical.
“Beauty in Life”
To help maintaining a connection between the musicians and the spectators, the official platform provides three buttons through which the spectators can virtually applaud and also choose the intensity and the manner of their reaction, which will be communicated to both the competitors and the jury. The organizers prove that they have truly internalized the motto of this year’s edition and choose to see the “Beauty in Life”, making the most of this experience.
Composer Dan Dediu agrees that the concert is an act of heroism in itself and talks about the experience of performing in the absence of an audience: “The rallying of the orchestra, the conductor, and the soloists was exemplary, and I was impressed. But what impressed me most was this form of heroism through which they assumed, after so much work and effort, the silence of the hall as the zenith of the artistic act. The moment when the musicians take a bow in front of the empty hall has something of the humility of the monks in the desert, who reach the most profound spiritual experience without beating the drum, but grow and increase sacredly within their self.”, he declares to the press.
If you want to read another article about what’s going on in Romania, you can read “Voting and civic duty in Romania: why we should make a change today“.