Gheorghe Zamfir – the World’s King of Pan Flute

Gheorghe Zamfir – the World’s King of Pan Flute

Gheorghe Zamfir was born on 6 April 1941 in Găeşti, Dâmboviţa County.

Since early childhood he proved to have real musical inclination, being attracted to the fiddling musical chords, a period in which he wanted to learn to play the accordion and when he registered to the Musical High School where he studied accordion.

Due to his exceptional gift and his fabulous talent, he was accepted in the pan flute class coordinated by professor Fănică Luca. In 1961, he was admitted to the Ciprian Porumbescu Conservatory in Bucharest, where he graduated in 1966 with a diplomas in both pedagogy and choir and orchestra musical conducting. In the same year, 1966, before graduation, he became a conductor of the Ciocârlia Folklore Ensemble in Bucharest, a group which included over 300 artists, and together with which he registered remarkable success in their numerous tours in the country and abroad. Also in 1966, Gheorghe Zamfir recorded his first record with Electrecord, which included renowned songs like “Doina de Jale” and “Doina ca de la Vișina”. In 1970, he founded his own fiddle ensemble with which he had important success. Since 1971, he has been touring the world, gaining international fame. France adored him in 1971, where he performed in 45 concerts at the Gaîté-Montparnasse Theatre. He enraptured the legendary Olympia stage in ‘73. Therefore, he toured the entire world. From South America to Japan, from Australia to Scandinavia, he enchanted the world with his mystical sounds. The Empress of Japan invited him, Pope Joan Paul II received him three times, and heads of state from the entire globe received him with highest distinctions.

The pan flute is a musical instrument which was created 6000 years ago and which should imitate the human voice in its most intimate moments, with all its inflexions. For his pan flute, Zamfir chose bamboo wood which he imbued with beeswax drops in order to adjust it in a very personal way, and then the magic begins.

He has strived to discover means to expand the use of his instrument. Thus, the traditional pan flute with 20 pipes became successively from his hands the pan flute with 22 pipes, then with 25, 28 and 30 pipes and due to the sounds adjusted in a low register, he managed to approach a wider repertoire and various musical genres. He always treats his performances as the last one and, therefore, he gives a feeling of eternity with his pan flute.

At the same time, Zamfir composed over 300 works for pan flute and pipe organ or piano, chamber music and symphonic orchestras, sacred music for orchestra and choir. He recorded over 200 albums, he sold millions of copies and earned over 120 platinum and golden discs.

Gheorghe Zamfir is also a well-known composer for movie soundtracks. He interpreted the music for “Once Upon A Time in America”, “Karate Kid” or “The Tall Blonde Man with One Black Shoe”. Tarantino used the maestro’s beautiful interpretation of the song “Lonely Shepherd” as soundtrack for “Kill Bill”.

Throughout his career, he collaborated with top musicians from the entire world, such as: James Last, Andrea Bocelli, Ennio Morricone, Lawrence Foster, André Rieu, British Chamber Orchestra, conductor Seiji Ozawa, Oxford Quartet, Marcel Cellier, organist Diane Bish, Richard Clayderman, Eugen Sârbu and many others.

Throughout time, international public figures and institutions wanted to pay homage to his art, by awarding him with well-deserved honours:

• Knight of Belgium,
• Knight of Luxembourg,
• two times with the Gold Medal of the Paris Art, Science and Letters Academy Association;
• two times with the Medal of the Roma Don Bosco University;
• the Vatican Medal, awarded by Pope Joan Paul II;
• Order of Italy’s Golden Sagittarius;
• Cultural merit, Officer of France;
• Commander Order awarded by the President of Peru;
• Zither Golden Award from France;
• twice with the Award of the Charles Cros Academy in France;
• Doctor Honoris Causa of the “Constantin Brâncuși” University,
• Doctor Honoris Causa of the “Ovidius” University,
• Ambassador of Romanian Tourism,
• “Mihai Eminescu” Order,
• Order of the Republic of Moldova, the highest distinction in Moldova.
• Mediterranean International Award – Heritage World Music – Italy 2016.

Duke Ellington said about Gheorghe Zamfir that “an artist so talented should belong to the category of musicians inspired by God.”

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