A new edition of the “George Enescu” festival has begun. xxv. The festival has already collected an impressive cultural history that deserves to be told in its entirety, with kindness and sympathy, by someone who knows it well. The “George Enescu” festival grew out of a propaganda plot by the most hated generation of Communists who ruled Romania. After the death of Stalin, as we know, the non-Aeolian element led by Gheorghiu-Dej won the bloody struggle for power within the Communist Party against the shadowy element surrounding Vasile Luca and Ana Pauker, so there was a strange desire to recover a little from the disastrous image of the system in the West. In primitive political thinking, like the thinking that Dej and his people were capable of, the stability of the regime was also ensured by a kind of Western sympathy that had to be won at the expense of misguided independence from Moscow. So the Digg regime thought of making some superficial gestures–small, of course, insignificant on the scale of real politics–intended to attract a wave of sympathy, no more, from the West, while repression continued, fierce, in the country. Part of this plastic surgery was also the attempts of the Bucharest regime to make friends with a few great Romanian artists in exile.
Similarly, Dej’s regime attempted to restore Enescu. They didn’t work with him either. Enescu died in 1955. A few days after the death of the Romanian model of the last century, the idea of organizing an international music festival in Bucharest under his name appeared in the frameworks of propagandistic thinking that I mentioned above. They couldn’t use it in life, let alone use his name after his death. Today we know that by deliberately creating this international festival open to Western guests, the Dej regime was somehow trying to repair its image, because the whole world knew that Enescu’s exile was bitter. Moreover, the date is ridiculous, I don’t know how many times. It is amazing to see how the George Enescu Festival has become, through a purely propaganda maneuver, a musical event with a well-deserved and well-established international standing. You could tell that the name Enescu, put on the label, generated the energy and magnetism of the event, taking it out of the mold of communist propaganda and making it quickly become much better than it was designed to be. Beginning in 1958, the festival was held every three years, as I said, in terms of quality and prestige. In the 1980s, under conditions of austerity imposed by Ceaușescu’s absurd thinking, but also by cultural politics that greatly favored the “amateur movement” at the expense of professionals, the festival began to fade. The last edition under the old regime, in 1988, was just a mess.
In the early days of 1990, a group of young people (at the time), including Mr. Mihai Constantinescu, the current director of Artexim, that is, the organizer of the festival, went to the new Minister of Culture, Mr. Andrei Pleșu, and suggested revitalizing the festival. The minister immediately agreed and appointed tenor Ludovic Spies as director, at that time one of the few musical personalities in Romania who had a high international profile. That’s how the festival’s first post-communist release happened in 1991, and since then things have gone steadily and steadily. The dynamics of the festival, which is constantly increasing in complexity and standards, is a small miracle for Romania. We in culture are also superficial and controversial, strict and frustrated, lazy, we don’t really know what continuity is and we don’t conform to standards at all. That’s why, when we have something on the scale of the Jorge Enescu festival hitting its 25th edition, it’s worth a little admiration. The festival exists today because some people worked and developed it. And Mr. Constantinescu, whom I mentioned above, deserves the first honorable mention, for being the man who bore the burden of organizing all the releases after 1991. Of course, the festival directors have their merits too. Ioan Holender’s mandate has meant taking the festival to a world-class level, and we must be grateful to the legendary director from Vienna for this leap. But he took him there because he had already reached somewhere near the level of the “Champions League”.
Over time, the festival has often been threatened. Leave aside the communist years. I mean our democratic times. From time to time there are local smart people who say that the state is spending too much. The Minister of Culture (peak!) told the country that I did not know how many kilometers of highways would be cut from the festival budget. Like we don’t have highways because the festival takes money out of the budget. Lots of smart local people (or not many of them) think we don’t have good hospitals because of the churches. In the end, the festival named after the greatest Roman of the last century somehow got rid of the “intelligence” of Romanians who had a say in matters of culture and proceeded, as I said, in a good way. Thank God, all the obstacles that were put in the way of the festival, whether big or small, were somehow removed and we move forward. However, there is a deficit that seems insurmountable: the concert hall problem. He has written a lot and talked about it a lot. The group of Bucharest mayors and ministers who promised the festival and Bucharest a concert hall befitting 21st century Europe is already ridiculously long. Agreed, we have a chronic inability to build. Decades pass until kilometers of highway are removed with tongs from the arcana of the local administration and companies, which are then built at a snail’s pace and quickly crumble, as if made of plasticine. Only now has the first publicly funded hospital in the past 30 years been used. As for the new concert hall, which the festival and Bucharest need like air, no pen was ever put to paper. We are still in ancient Athens, which was built in 1888, as well as in the Palatoloi Hall, which was built in 1960. Be aware, neither of these two music halls were built! So we are with the “George Enescu” festival in a permanent logistical improvisation. Typical, isn’t it?
The old dilemma often called for a new concert hall, necessary for the “George Enescu” festival. It’s good to give hundreds of millions of new and European stadiums across the country so that the level 7 teams can play in them. For the “George Enescu” festival, which brings world-class artists and bands to Bucharest, it is not possible to build a hall. I surveyed the Ministry and City Hall about the status of the concert hall project and got, you can imagine, either answers or silly answers. I posted it at the time. Nothing moves and every edition of the Jorge Enescu Festival brings the Concert Hall affair back to the present day as if it had been ordered for the first time. We are powerless! We are careless! We are slack!
And not to say again that we only criticize and do not give solutions, here, I have a proposal designed to unlock the start (yes, I know, it’s a bit funny, but for this cultural goal, the start was banned decades ago). I propose to appoint Minister Drola for a period of one or two years in the Department of Culture. Yes, Drula la Cultura! With a clear mandate to make Bucharest a concert hall worthy of our time, the prestige of the city and, above all, worthy of the “Georges Enescu” festival. I see that Drula can with highways, roads and bridges. I think he could do with the concert hall. There is, of course, the option of commissioning the Ministry of Transport to build this cultural edifice. But it looks like Drula la Culture will be healthier for a while!