Dear Ladies and Gentlemen

It is a great Pleasure for me to announce the 12th Music Festival here in Phnom Penh. This Festival is an integral part of our growing multifaceted cultural life in Phnom Penh, and even in the whole country.

In times of serious global turmoil and tensions, music can bring us back to the essentials of humanity and human existence. Music helps us to have an insight into our selves. Through music, we may gain new ideas and confidence for our everyday life. In this regard, the festival program seems to be unique, demonstrating the development of music between tradition and progress and of the influences of the enlightenment movement that was a very important philosophical cornerstone of European culture.

However, behind the individuality of European developments there are also transcultural aspects that may speak to us or at least remind us of similar tendencies in our culture that need to be revived. Once again we discover here the strong binding ties of art. They demonstrate clearly that behind all fascinating diversity, there is always something in common among us all. We may call this cultural archetypes. Music is an ideal medium for turning concrete and even conceptual experiences into an all-permeating positive sensation, which then may enlighten our constructive individual imagination. Or in other words, music enables us individually and together to participate in a unique and yet universal experience. This may lead to quite new artistic horizons.

I strongly hope that the festival continues to be an essential part of our cultural life while nurturing and enriching cultural exchanges as well.

Phoeurng Sackona
Minister of Culture and Fine Arts

Phoeurng Sackona
Minister of
Culture and Fine Arts

Dear Friends,

This year again, the Delegation of the European Union to the Kingdom of Cambodia is providing its support to the Music Festival organized by Art+ Foundation, with for this 12th edition, a focus on the European Dream of Progress and Enlightenment.

This Festival is one of the yearly milestones of the cultural life of the capital of Cambodia. It is like a "bubble in time" during which music lovers of all nationalities can experience the genius of some of the most monumental European musicians, like Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Brahms, Schubert and Mozart.

This 2015 edition of the Festival addresses a particularly rich period of the history of Europe, which witnessed important changes in the mind set of Europeans: progressively reason replaced beliefs and subsequently science became the driving force of an accelerating progress.  Industrialization would follow, and after two dramatic global wars, the onset of what is now the European Union.

Slightly more than two months have passed since I arrived in Cambodia as Ambassador of the European Union, but I do feel very much already how vibrant the country -and the city of Phnom Penh in particular- has become. Cambodia is a country where I served between 1997 and 2000, and I am fascinated to see how it has changed over the intervening years. This has been a time of rapid economic and infrastructural development, and of increasing contact and exchange with the other countries including the member states of the European Union.

The European Union attaches great importance to people-to-people contacts, multiculturalism and mutual understanding. In this respect music remains one of the best bridges between cultures, minds and souls.

I join the whole team of the EU Delegation of the European Union to Cambodia, in wishing you a most enjoyable and enlightening festival.

George Edgar
Ambassador of the European Union to Cambodia

George Edgar
Ambassador of the
European Union to the
Kingdom of Cambodia

Dear fellow music lovers,

For the eleventh year, Phnom Penh, with its  increasingly numerous community of young classical music enthusiasts, is host to the International Music Festival with its distinctly European focus. Anton Isselhardt, who has been organizing this festival since its inception, is untiring in his efforts to bring an informed appreciation of European music to a Cambodian audience.  Just as, over centuries, Asian culture has enriched the European arts, including music, so we see how Asian culture and society can be expanded and enriched by its exposure to European music.  The way in which European music, and in particular Beethoven’s oeuvre,  continues to fascinate  Japanese art lovers  is but one example.

This year, the festival’s focus is music from the Age of Enlightenment in 18th century Europe.  This was the period when Europe embarked on its path to industrialisation. This was inspired by a new guiding philosophy in Europe which placed reason and all that was considered rational above superstition and tradition just for tradition’s sake. This new philosophy also found expression in the arts, especially literature and music. And this was a time when administrative structures were reformed to create a framework for modernization in which, for the first time, people from an educated and cultured middle class played a key role.

Now in my third year as German Ambassador to Cambodia, I see some parallels between these developments in 19th century Europe and what is currently happening here in your country. There is a growing middle class, moneyed and  increasingly well educated, developing its own tastes and styles.  And, in my discussions with Cambodians, I have also detected signs of the awakening of a new attitude and way of thinking  in your country.  The arts, including music, have their part to play in these developments. I am sure the International Music festival, under the energetic leadership of Mr. Isselhardt, will serve, once more this year, as an inspiration to many Cambodians who are using their unique talents to help build a modern Cambodia. I wish you all enjoyable and perhaps thought-provoking musical evenings.

Joachim Baron von Marschal
Ambassador of the F R of Germany

Joachim Baron von Marschal
Ambassador of the F R of Germany

This year’s festival motto reflects the social and cultural impact of art-music in the development of European countries from the age of enlightenment until romanticism (1700-1900) The festival program is a snapshot of this complex interaction. From the 18th century on, European art music coincided with the industrial revolution, enlightenment philosophy, and the impact of the  French Revolution.

As an example, Ludwig van Beethoven illustrates the enlightenment spirit with engagement and passion. He was a revolutionary artist for his time and refused to conform to traditional musical standards. Beethoven also expressed a significant interest in politics; his concern was shared by many of his contemporaries who had been sympathetic with enlightenment ideals. The tensions in post-French revolution politics and society were translated into some of the greatest music works in history.

In continuation, romanticism was a time of increased interest in science and nature. Musicians began to rely on public and individual patronage rather than commissions from the nobility, freelancing in their growing artworks. Compositions became stories, representing emotions, ideas, and even eleements of national pride. The romantic era lasted until 1900 and saw many changes on the European continent, as nationalism, expanding industrialization and political changes were in the spotlight.

I would be happy if the idea of the festival would support the dialogue between various musical cultures and its social cultural impact to the development of all modern societies could be broadened, thus contributing towards friendship and understanding between peoples of different backgrounds and countries.

Anton Isselhardt, Festival Director
Festival Director

Anton Isselhardt
Festival Director and 1st  Chairman ARTplus Foundation