The Enescu festival: it’s bigger than Ben Hur the opera!


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In September the hotel porters of Bucharest will be very busy lugging double basses, cellos, harps and tubas up and down the staircases and along the plush carpeted corridors. (Or maybe less poetically they will shove them on trolleys and take the lift). Why? Because that is when the George Enescu International Festival takes place, and members of orchestras from all over the world will descend on the Romanian capital. Held every two years, the festival must surely rank as the biggest cultural event on Romania’s calendar.

I had never studied the program for this event before, as I have only recently got to know some of Enescu’s music, so I went online to check it out. The Romanian language website is here and the English language version is here. The festival is much more comprehensive than I imagined. Although most of it takes place in Bucharest, there will also be concerts in Timișoara, Cluj, Oradea, Bacâu, Sibiu, Arad and Brașov.

Among the “Great Orchestras of the World” (translated in Romanian as “Mari Orchestre Ale Lumii“) that will be taking part over the course of the month are:

The Staatskapelle Berlin, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the National Philharmonic of Russia, the Orchestre de Paris, the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI (Italian Radio Symphony Orchestra), the London Philharmonic, the Munich Philharmonic, the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Britain’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Lausanne Chamber OrchestraThe Academy of St Martin in the Fields, the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestraplus of course Romania’s top orchestras and its youth orchestra, and many other various ensembles, choirs, quartets and wotnot. Gosh, what a program! Some operas and ballets have been thrown in too, and even actor John Malkovich will be there, playing the part of a serial killer in some recital. One of the venues is also one of the loveliest buildings in Bucharest, the Romanian Athenaeum. You can explore it here.

So, for fun, and to introduce a language element to this posting, I thought I would paste some copy from the festival website in Romanian. Have a read of this, to see how good you are at deciphering the language, then look at the website’s English translation underneath.

Pe 15 aprilie începe vânzarea biletelor!

Published 08 Martie 2013 11:47

Biletele individuale pentru spectacolele din cadrul ediției 2013 a Festivalului Internațional George Enescu vor fi puse în vânzare pe 15 aprilie, de la ora 10.00. Acestea vor putea fi cumpărate fie pe Internet, de pe site-ul Eventim – –, fie din întreaga rețea de magazine Eventim (Germanos, Orange, Vodafone, Domo, Librăriile Humanitas și Cărturești), precum și la celelalte puncte Eventim din România. De asemenea, biletele pot fi procurate și prin intermediul rețelor Eventim din țările europene.

Înapoi la toate știrile

Ticket sales starts on April 15th!

Published March 08, 2013 11:47

Individual tickets for performances in the 2013 edition of George Enescu International Festival will be on sale starting April 15 at 10.00. They can be purchased either on the Internet, on Eventim site – – or on the Eventim partner stores (Germanos, Orange, Vodafone, Domo, Librăriile Humanitas and Cărtureşti) and from the other Eventim sales points in Romania. Also, tickets can be purchased from Eventim branches in other European countries.

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So how did you go?

Tickets to these events sell fast – some concerts have sold out already – so I guess if you miss out this year you should make a note in your diaries for 2015 to get in early. But if you live in Europe and fancy a weekend of culture somewhere exotic, budget airline Wizz Air flies to Timișoara, Cluj and Bucharest, while Romania’s national airline, Tarom, has English, Spanish and French language options on its website.

George Enescu

George Enescu

If I have interpreted the program correctly, it seems the festival will open on September 1 with, quite fittingly, George Enescu’s Romanian Rhapsody no. 2 in D Major op. 11. (played by the Staatskapelle Berlin under the baton of Daniel Barenboim). This is a lovely, soothing piece of music – I listen to this to relax after a period of work-related stress, and at the opening bars I imagine the early morning mists swirling gently around the peaks of the Carpathian mountains. There are a number of versions of it on YouTube, but some of them cut off the ending for some reason. I like this performance by The Romanian National Radio Orchestra, which I think dates back to the Communist era.

If you like Romanian Rhapsody no. 2, and you are in an energetic mood, you will definitely enjoy the Romanian Rhapsody no. 1, which is a lot livelier, and more playful. The rhapsodies and the Poème Roumain (30 minutes-plus) are probably Enescu’s most popular works. Enescu was also an acclaimed violinist and music teacher, and a conductor. He wrote three symphonies, orchestral suites, piano suites, violin and cello sonatas and string quartets. Anyway, if you have 12 calm minutes to spare, listen to this.

Hope to see you in the Romanian Athenaeum one day! 🙂


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