George Enescu International Competition was officially established in September 1958, accompanying George Enescu International Festival in its debut. In 2018 the Competition opened up the doors to its 16th edition.
Since its first editions, and moreover after the Fall of Communism, George Enescu International Competition has become one of the most prestigious European events of its kind, placing Romania on the map of the internationally recognized and highly praised classical music competitions. The Competition has been a member of the World Federation of International Music Competitions since 2002, being the only Romanian competition of classical music organized and adjudicated according to standards and requirements in the Statutes of the Federation.
Whereas the first 13 editions of the Competition took place along with the George Enescu International Festival, the 14th edition shows a new approach. The Competition remains tied in with the biennial George Enescu Festival, but this time it is organized as an independent event, in the year when the Festival doesn’t occur. The new arrangement aims to highlight the Competition’s clout and value, and to honor a continuous agenda of quality musical events offered by Romania to the international cultural heritage.
Intended as a natural extension of the George Enescu Festival, the most important international cultural event organized by Romania and a true national cultural brand, George Enescu International Competition brings back into the limelight the values George Enescu himself, the only Romanian composer whose music belongs to the universal cultural heritage, believed in – creativity, originality and generosity. In the spirit of George Enescu’s personal dedication to the encouragement of young musicians – as the Honorary Director of the Romanian Musical Association, he made substantial donations to pay for musicians’ scholarships, and in 1912 he took a tour through Romania and raised over a thousand sterling pounds in order to launch a national composition award – the George Enescu Competition recognizes, supports and promotes young talents worldwide, endorsing in this way the future golden generations of the universal classical music.
The Competition has become a genuine outstanding opportunity for Romanian and foreign young aspiring musicians to advance their careers. Brilliant soloists such as violinist Stefan Ruha, pianist Valentin Gheorghiu, renown violinist Silvia Marcovici (who performs under the baton of the world famous conductors Zubin Mehta, Claudio Abbado or Riccardo Muti), Radu Lupu and Dan Grigore (two of the most valued Romanian pianists worldwide); other artists revered in the lyrical world – soprano Ileana Cotrubas, mezzo-soprano Viorica Cortez, composer Dan Dediu – have all led extraordinary international careers following their debut as George Enescu International Competition’s laureates. Remarkable representatives of the new generation of artists: Alexandru Tomescu, Vlad Stanculeasa, Remus Azoitei, Ana Tifu have been prizewinners in the Competition as well, receiving this way the accolades that propelled them to fame.
Romanian and worldwide important musicians alike have engaged in successful international careers due to the spotlight and recognition granted by Enescu Competition. To name just one – the famous Georgian pianist Elisabeth Leonskaja, “the Great Lady of Piano”, a lifelong friend and musical partner of Master Sviatoslav Richter, who won – in the early days of her career (1964) – the First Prize in the Piano Section at the George Enescu Competition. Agnes Baltsa, Li Ming Qiang, Igor Aleksandrovich Frolov, Arie Vardi, Oleg Moiseevich Kagan, Pascal Mahé Rogé, Cristina Ortiz, Dmitri Alexseev, Valeriy Sokolov number themselves as well amongst the musicians whose international careers have been indelibly shaped by their early participation in the George Enescu Competition.
George Enescu Competition’s worth and stature on the international classical music stage are reinforced by the international caliber of the jury who adjudicates in the sections of the Competition. Among the distinguished personalities who graced with their judgment the George Enescu Competition over the years are: Yehudi Menuhin, David Oistrach, Claudio Arrau, Sir John Barbirolli, Jean Absil, Nadia Boulanger, Arthur Rubinstein, Sidney Harth, Michèle Auclair, Dmitri Tziganov, Eugene List, Lola Bobescu, Lawrence Foster, Silvia Marcovici, Ileana Cotrubaş, Viorica Cortez, Ioan Holender, Hideko Udagawa, Trygve Nordwall, Dmitri Sitkovetsky – to name just a few.