Brass and “fanfare”

Bănia fanfare, Banat

Bănia fanfare, Banat

The history of the Romanian brass band probably has its beginning during the times of the Hapsburg empire and associated annexations to the empire during the 17th to 19th centuries. These Hapsburg influences are now seen in the distribution of brass bands in the areas of Banat, Transylvania and Moldavia, but not southern Romania.

Entertainment brass bands were popular during the 19th century prominently in the Saxon areas. These played on Sundays and in bandstands, as was common throughout Europe.

Retiș village band, Transylvania

Retiș village band, Transylvania

Many villagers encountered brass bands during Hapsburg military service, and after the fall of the Hapsburg Empire in 1918 the brass bands continued as part of the Romanian military. During the communist period many Romanian wind instrumentalists and gypsy lăutari were employed in the army as musicians which has resulted in a large fund of brass musicians in many rural villages today.

In the regions of Banat, Transylvania and Moldavia some of the taraf and village music groups have converted their repertoire of local music to brass group arrangements consisting of melody lead on clarinet, trumpet and bugles, accompanied by tubas, trombone and big drum.

Timișești fanfare - Moldavia

Timișești fanfare – Moldavia

In Moldavia these dominated the village music from around the 1930s. The repertoire includes many dances together with the wedding ritual tunes, songs, marches, and popular modern ballroom dances. Generally the musicians in northern Moldavia are predominantly Romanian, whereas those in the centre and south of Moldavia are gypsies.

The further progression of the changing instrumentation is continuing with the adoption of taragot, accordion and electronic keyboard during the 1980s. Some of the traditional village brass bands have continued without modernisation, these being found mainly in central and north Moldavia. The best know are from Zece Prăjini (near to Roman in central Moldavia), other musicians from this village are better known in west Europe marketed as “fanfare Ciocărlia” (Ciocârlia means sky lark and is the title of a melody that every Romanian instrumentalist will perform, but misspelt with ă in place of â).

"pocket" trumpet

“pocket” trumpet

The trumpet is also included in the town folk ensembles of Moldavia, together with the usual selection of village and taraf instruments. However, the most notable Romanian music folk trumpet player recorded by Electrecord is Constantine Gherghina who is not from Moldavia, but from Mehedinţi and plays melodies from Oltenia and Banat.

Published on 14th June 2018