The Lautari Gypsy musicians

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The gypsy musicians, lăutari, have had a major influence on the dance music of Romania. In towns and villages with lăutari, the superior musicianship of the gypsies has replaced the local Romanian musicians. After WW2 the lăutari who used to play in cafes and restaurants organized themselves into orchestras and found themselves playing a repertoire of the café music in concert halls. This development of popular ensembles give us the distinctive "Romanian" sound we hear in many popular recordings.

The gypsy lăutari have mastered the dance music for the surrounding populations of Romanians and Hungarians over much of Romania. On one hand their expertise removed music from the indigenous people, but on the other they provide the source for much of the research on dance and music that has otherwise died out. In Transylvania the gypsies have transferred melodies between the Romanians and Hungarians, and from area to area. The music of the Romanians and Hungarians is similar and sometimes almost indistinguishable. The dance melody in one area may well be known as the "gypsy-dance" in the next. The gypsies in the Balkans have their own music and dance. Until recently this has been suppressed by the state recording authorities, but this is now starting to become available. In Hungary there are many recordings of popular groups who specialise in gypsy songs.


Alexandru, T (1980), Romanian folk music, Musical publishing house, Bucharest


© Eliznik2005, First issue 2002, Last updated Mar-07