Gheorghe Zamfir ; born April 6, 1941) is a Romanian pan flute musician.
Zamfir is known for playing an expanded version of the traditional Romanian-style pan flute (nai) of 20 pipes to 22, 25, 28 and 30 pipes to increase its range, and obtaining as many as eight overtones (additionally to the fundamental tone) from each pipe by changing the embouchure.
He is known as ½The Master of the Pan Flute½, though his standing as a leading figure within the history of Romanian folk music has not been without criticism
Zamfir came to the public eye when he was ½discovered½ by Swiss ethnomusicologist Marcel Cellier who extensively researched Romanian folk music in the 1960s.
The composer Vladimir Cosma brought Zamfir with his pan flute to western European countries for the first time in 1972 as the soloist in Cosma’s original music for the movie Le grand blond avec une chaussure noire.
This was very successful, and since then, he has been used as soloist in movie soundtracks by composers Francis Lai, Ennio Morricone and many others.
Largely through television commercials where he was billed as ½Zamfir, Master of the pan Flute½, he introduced the folk instrument to a modern audience and revived it from obscurity.
In the United States his commercials were widely seen on CNN in the 1980s.
Zamfir’s big break in the English-speaking world came when the BBC religious television programme ½The Light of Experience½ adopted his recording of ½Doina De Jale½, a traditional Romanian funeral song, as its theme.
Popular demand forced Epic Records to release the tune as a single in 1976, and it climbed to number four on the UK charts.
It would prove to be his only hit single, but it helped pave the way for a consistent stream of album sales in Britain.
After nearly a decade-long absence, Romanian pan flute virtuoso Gheorghe Zamfir returned to Canada in January 2006 for a seven-city tour with TRAFFIC STRINGS quintet .
The program included a world premiere: Vivaldi’s Four Seasons for PanFlute and string quintet arranged by Lucian Moraru, jazz standards, and well-known favourites.
Gheorghe Zamfir & Traffic StringsMost recently, Zamfir has been sampled by Animal Collective in the song ½Graze½ on their EP Fall Be Kind.