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 (Nick even used to play in one in England).
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.
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 is from Zece Prăjini (near to Roman in central Moldavia). We encountered musicians from this village playing at firework display in Bucureşti some years ago, 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).
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.
Fanfara de la Chetriş - Soft Records SFTF-003-2
Zece Prăjini - ethnophone CD002
Fanfara Ciocarlia "Radio Pascani" - CD-PIRI254
Gypsy Brass from Romania "Fanfara din Cozmesti" - ARC EUCD 1625
Fanfara Cooperativei - Cozmesti-Husi - Electrecord EPC 690
"Doine, Cantece si Jocuri Banatene" cu Fanfara din Lăpuşnic (Banat) - Ethnophone C-019
Locally produced Moldavian "fanfara" cassettes:
Fanfara de la Valea Mare (Roman)
Fanfara de la Valea Mare (Roman), Vol 2
Fanfara "Codrii Voronei" din Vorona, Botoşani, Vol 1
Fanfara Codrii Voronei, Vol 3
Fanfara Speranta de la 10 Prajini (Zece Prăjini)
Grupul de fanfara "Datina" din Belcesti, Iaşi
Fanfara Dracula din Pietris, Iaşi
Ovidiu Lipau Tandazica & Fanfara din Zece Prajini "Renastezea"
Plai Botosanean "Fanfare Taranesti" (fanfara: Belceşti, Mihăileni, Cordăreni, Mileanca, Dobârceni, Corni, Hudeşti, "Vatra")