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George Enescu International Festival – the World’s Largest Classical Music Festival in 2021

As George Enescu International Festival came to a close, it announced the numbers of its Jubilee Edition, successfully held from August 28 to September 26, 2021. For four weeks, the 2021 Enescu Festival welcomed more than 3,500 Romanian and foreign artists; over 100 world-famous soloists and conductors, 25 of whom were participating for the first time; 32 orchestras from 14 countries, including some of the world’s top-ranking ensembles; and performed, in 78 concerts, the entire artistic program advertised to the public, having to replace one orchestra and three soloists at very short notice. With this edition’s tour de force, the 2021 Enescu Festival demonstrated its scale and status, being this year’s largest classical music festival on the international stage.

The 2021 Enescu Festival presented 53 Romanian premieres and three world premieres. Among them was Te Deum, composed by José Cura to mark the 25th Edition of the Enescu Festival. Four operas and several vocal-symphonic works by Stravinsky, Cura, and Enescu (the Undead oratorio) received their Romanian premiere.

This edition presented the highest number of Enescu works in the history of the Festival – 42, being a further celebration of George Enescu’s 140th birth anniversary. The Festival also honored Stravinsky on the 50th commemoration of his death.

Enescu Festival Audiences

Around 75,000 audience members from Romania and all around the world watched the concerts held in Bucharest in the four main concert halls of the Festival and broadcast online; to this number are to be added the participants and audience members for the Creative Bucharest and Enescu in Other Cities series.

In the four main Festival venues (Romanian Athenaeum, Grand Palace Hall, Radio Hall, and the Auditorium Hall), the audience amounted to approximately 54,000 people, even though seat availability was restricted and tickets and subscriptions went on sale much later than usual, due to the pandemic.

Top Concerts by Sales and Audience Numbers

The concerts that sold out the fastest were all performed at the Athenaeum: Maxim Vengerov (violin) and Polina Osetinskaya (piano) recital; Mahler Chamber Orchestra with Yuja Wang at the piano; Joyce DiDonato recital, with Il Pomo d’Oro; Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of London.

The 5 most popular concerts at the Grand Palace Hall were those with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam (September 25 and 26); Orchestra of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia Rome (September 23 and 24); the Romanian Youth Orchestra (September 22).

The 5 most popular concerts at the Athenaeum were those given by the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and Yuja Wang at the piano; German Chamber Philharmonic of Bremen; Münchener Bach-Orchester & Chor; Maxim Vengerov (violin) and Polina Osetinskaya (piano) recital; Joyce DiDonato’s recital alongside Il Pomo d’Oro.

At the Radio Hall, the 5 most popular concerts were performed by the Bucharest Symphony Orchestra (09/19); Dogma Chamber Orchestra (09/25); the State Philharmonic Orchestra of Sibiu (09/18); Moldova Philharmonic Orchestra of Iasi (09/12); Banatul Philharmonic Orchestra of Timisoara (09/11).

At the Auditorium, the 5 most popular concerts were those with WDR Symphony Orchestra of Cologne – Chamber Players (09/26); ControCorrente Orchestra (09/25); recital with cellist Norbert Anger and pianist Sina Kloke (09/19); recital by Manuel Fischer-Dieskau & Cyprien Katsaris (09/12).

Most of the audience members in the Enescu Festival concert halls were from Romania. Even though tickets were sold to foreigners, the number of foreign participants was very low compared to previous years, due to the pandemic and travel restrictions. This year, 29 spectators from the UK bought tickets, 20 from Switzerland, 9 from the USA, 5 from Canada, 5 from France, 2 from the Netherlands, 2 from Syria, and 1 each from Israel and Italy.

Enescu Festival Online

For the first time, the Enescu Festival concerts live broadcast online were stored virtually for 12 hours, to be watched from multiple time zones. Access to the online broadcasts was free of charge. A total of 20,358 spectators enjoyed the music in the Enescu Festival online, 14,000 of them from Romania and the rest from abroad. The top countries of origin of online viewers were: Germany (759 music lovers), USA (600), France (500), Italy (470), UK (300), China (300), and Spain (200).

The top 3 most-watched concerts online were: the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra (08/29) – 514 viewers; London Symphony Orchestra (08/29) – 404 viewers; the George Enescu Philharmonic Orchestra (08/28) – 377 viewers.

In the organizational and communication strategy of the 2021 Enescu Festival, the promotion of online free concerts was secondary; priority was instead given to the organization and promotion of public attendance in the concert halls, in strict compliance with health and safety regulations.

During the Festival, between August 28 and September 26, the website registered 135,486 unique users. From July, when ticket sales started, until the end of the Festival, the website pages were accessed 2,099,331 times in 461,753 sessions by 190,228 unique visitors.

2021 Enescu Festival Facts and Figures

  • 4 series of concerts (one less than in previous years due to the pandemic): Great Orchestras of the World (Grand Palace Hall); Recitals and Concerts (Romanian Athenaeum); Music of the 21st Century (Radio Hall); Enescu and Contemporaries – Chamber Music (Auditorium Hall).
  • The third edition of the International Composers’ Forum, with the participation of great composers such as Salvatore Sciarrino, Francesco Filidei, Dieter Ammann, Jonathan Dove, Patrick Hawes, Peter Jablonski, Tim Benjamin, Martin Torp, Gabriel Iranyi, Cornel Taranu, Dan Dediu
  • 3,500 Romanian and foreign artists were welcomed to Bucharest
  • 78 concerts held in Bucharest
  • 13 cities where the Enescu Festival took place across the country: Cluj-Napoca, Sibiu, Satu Mare, Timisoara, Bacau, Iasi, Focsani, Constanta, Ramnicu Valcea, Pitesti, Ploiesti, Paulesti
  • More than 8,000 nights of accommodation
  • 104 busses used to transport artists
  • More than 20 trucks with instruments and materials for orchestras
  • More than 700 transfers and 15,000 km covered by official cars
  • Over 250 interviews scheduled since summer (phone/zoom/face-to-face)
  • More than 120 accredited Romanian journalists
  • 30 accredited foreign journalists
  • The Enescu Festival team consisted of over 70 people, many of whom were employed on a fixed-term basis for the last weeks of preparation and during the Festival.
  • This was the last edition of the Enescu Festival with Vladimir Jurowski as Artistic Director and Mihai Constantinescu as Executive Director.

Acknowledgments

The Enescu Festival would like to thank all those who contributed to the organization of its 25th Edition: institutional partners, sponsors, domestic and international media partners, partners who organized the events in the Creative Bucharest series and across the country, as well as suppliers and collaborators.

The Enescu Festival would also like to thank its audience, all the music lovers who overcame the problems, fears, and discomfort caused by the pandemic and attended the concerts in compliance with the health regulations.

Photo & Video Resources

Photo and video images provided by the Enescu Festival are accessible via the following link: https://bit.ly/3DoPoCI. Please keep the credits visible for all photos.