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25 days of music in Bucharest to fight "crisis blues"

01 september 2011, 16:56
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The Great Palace Hall in Bucharest, one of the concert venues for the 20th Enescu music festival. ©AFP
The Great Palace Hall in Bucharest, one of the concert venues for the 20th Enescu music festival. ©AFP
The 20th Enescu music festival opens Thursday in Bucharest for 25 days of concerts and operas with a prestigious line-up including conductors Daniel Barenboim and Zubin Mehta, AFP reports.

"In this time of financial crisis in Europe, I am very glad that the festival reminds people that spiritual enrichment is as important as material enrichment", Ioan Holender, the festival's director, told AFP.

"Music has a spiritual dimension that makes people more human, that pushes them to think in a more profound way. This is very important in life, especially at this moment of crisis", Holender, who headed the Vienna Opera until last year, added.

The Romanian capital will buzz with chamber orchestra performances, piano recitals, and symphony concerts including works by Mozart, Liszt, Bruckner and Enescu.

Tens of thousands of spectators are expected to attend with ticket prices maintained low in a time of economic rigour.

Thirteen "great orchestras of the world" including the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orchestre National de France and the London Symphony Orchestra, will perform along with such renowned soloists as French pianist Helene Grimaud, Russia's Boris Berezovsky and China's Yundi Li.

Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim and the Berlin Staatskapelle will play in the festival for the first time on September 13 and 14.

They will among others perform with the Enescu Philharmonic Orchestra's women choir.

Indian conductor Zubin Mehta will be honoured by the Romanian Music Academy for his lifetime achievement. He gave up medical studies to become one of the world's leading conductors, heading for 40 years the Israel Philharmonic.

The festival will also explore symphonic music from countries not usually associated with it, such as Tunisia, India, Japan and Palestine, in the new ‘World Music’ series.

The Bucharest festival was set up in 1958 to pay tribute to the Romanian composer and violinist George Enescu (1881-1955), whose pupils included the late Yehudi Menuhin and who is known for his symphonies and Romanian rhapsodies.

The festival was banned by the communist regime in 1971 but came back to life after the fall of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in 1989.

It is held every other year in Bucharest (http://www.festivalenescu.ro).

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