The Lonely Shepherd
Gheorghe Zamfir was born in Gaiesti, near Bucharest, Rumania, in 1941, the son of a vineyard owner. His earliest childhood dreams were filled with the wish that someday he would be able to play the music that surrounded him - the marvellous folk melodies, from the plaintive and ethereal ballads to the fiery dances of the Tzigane -they all sought expression, even if only in his imagination at first, as he tended the goats in the hills of the Valley of Arges as a boy.
At thirteen, he learned the rudiments of the accordion from the gypsies, and played with them at weddings and festive occasions in Gaiesti. At fourteen, giving in to Gheorghe's pleas, his father enrolled him in the local music school. As it happened, there were no teachers available to further his instruction on the accordion, so, as fortune would have it, he was admitted to the Pan pipes class under the direction of Fanica Luca.
Gheorghe completed his primary music studies brilliantly and, upon graduation from the Gaiesti School, entered the Bucharest Conservatoire. There, he studied harmony, counterpoint, and piano. In 1966, he specialized in the teaching of music, and by 1968 was conducting orchestras and choirs, most notably the largest Rumanian folk ensemble, Ciorcilia, a group of musicians which ranged in size (depending on the performance) from 100 to 350 artists.
Zamfir did not invent the Pan flute, but for all his success in playing the instrument, one might think he had! He has, however, continued to study, and to look for ways of broadening the potential of the pipes. From the traditional 20-tubed version, he has managed to develop 22, 25, 28, and 30-tubed series of pipes. By softening the strident nature of this instrument and by adding a lower register, he has been able to create a larger repertoire which encompasses the full range of musical styles and compositions which had previously been impossible to articulate on an instrument of this nature: cantilenas (doina), lullabies (cintec de legan), funeral songs (bocet) - all indigenous to Rumania; pop repertoire from all parts of the world; classics; the list is almost limitless!
In January 1981, PolyGram Canada released the LP/MC "The Lonely Shepherd". It was not long before the Canadian consumer responded to Zamfir, beginning a "Cinderella" story that has continued with each subsequent release. To date, close to 2.5 million copies of Zamfir albums, cassettes and compact discs have been sold in Canada, making this country the best-selling territory in the world for the beautiful and unique Pan flute sound of Zamfir.