Monday Mixtape #6: Romanian Gold

For this week’s Mixtape we go to the incredibly rich musical soil of Rumania. Enjoy the songs of bands that became known during the Balkan music craze that swept the world a few years back but also a few gems that remained hidden.

Taraf de Haiduks / Rustem Si Suite
The group Taraf de Haiduks, or band of brigands, come from the village of Clejani where for decades they’ve been visited by musicologists who recorded their virtuoso performances. After appearing in Tony Gatlif’s film Latcho Drom they became known to the world. Everyone from Yehudi Menuhin to Johnny Depp wanted to be their friend. One of the most touching recorded moments is in the documentary Gypsy Caravan:  the old father of the main violinist of the band had just passed away, and all the musicians gather to pay him a final tribute, his son frantically playing away until the morning comes.
Fanfare Ciocărlia / Asfalt Tango
Ciocărlia is the Rumanian word for skylark, it is also the name of a popular band that was formed out of local wedding performers who were prompted by a French producer to become fixed band that can tour the world. Together with Serbia’s Boban Markovic Orkestar they are the ambassadors of the Gypsy Brass genre, a type of music that was formed when many Roma musicians served in the Ottoman and Austrian armies and adapted the brass instruments to their own music.
Gica Petrescu / Pietra Pietra
It doesn’t take a lot of searching to find that music from Romania is more than the (great) Gypsy tracks played in Balkan Beats parties. Especially in the fifties and sixties amazing tracks were produced and Romanians have been luckily uploading many of the old songs to the internet. Gica Petrescu has been singing actively until his death 6 years ago when he was 85! Here is his rendition of the song Pietra Pietra.
Maria Dragan / Foaie Verde Bob Naut
Maria Dragan is not from Rumania, but from neighbouring Moldova, a tiny Romanian speaking country that has been separated by centuries of history. Despite the current borders many Moldovans and Romanians celebrate each other’s artists as their own. Maria Dragan’s home village has honored her by organizing a yearly Maria Dragan folk music festival.
Maria Tanase / Lume Lume
It is only fitting to end our Romanian Mixtape with a song by Maria Tanase, the great diva of Romanian song. She was hated by the fascists who destroyed her first recordings and stopped her from singing, and during the war Maria Tanase never stopped defending and praising her Jewish friends. In the song Lume (world) she sings of our being as an old friend who pains you, but you never tire of her:
Oh world, sweet sister
When will I have enough of you?
When I give up bread for Lent
And the glass gives up on me…?
That’s the music for this week, we hope you enjoyed it!

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