Taragot and saxophone


Taragotists - Mărișel, Apuseni mountains

Taragotists – Mărișel, Apuseni mountains

The taragot was invented by the instrument maker J. Schunda, working in Budapest, with advice from the Hungarian composer Gyula Kaldy, and was used in the premier of Wagner’s “Trestan and Isolde” in 1865. Much like the earlier Saxophone, the Taragot has a conical tube similar to the oboe, and the single reed mouthpiece of the clarinet.

The taragot should not be confused with the older Hungarian “taragoto which is a double reed shawm similar to the folk shawm found throughout Europe and the Middle East. There is no doubt that the desire to re-construct this famous Hungarian instrument inspired the naming and invention of the modern taragot.

Taragot and saxophone

Taragot and saxophone

The taragot was used in the Royal Hungarian Army, but is rarely found in Hungary now. A rom musician from the Banat mountain region, Luța Ioviță, who had played it in the army during the First World War, returned to Banat (Romania) and introduced it there in the 1920s for dance music. This created a sensation, and eventually gave rise to a specific regional style.

Dumitru Farcaș, native to Maramureș, has made the taragot popular throughout Transylvania, and is probably the best known taragot player.


Taragot and sax - Banat region

Taragot and sax – Banat region

The saxophone was patented in 1846 by a Belgian, Adolphe Sax in Paris. It is similar to the later taragot in that it combines the single reed of the clarinet, with a shawm type bore and fingering patterns of the oboe. As it is made out of metal it has different tonal qualities to either of its ancestors. It has become the main instrument for dance music throughout Banat and south Transylvania and more recently can be found throughout most of Romania.

Published on 14th June 2018, last modified on 28th June 2018