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Romania has a multicultural music environment which includes active ethnic music scenes. Traditional Romanian folk music remains popular, and some folk musicians have come to national (and even international) fame.


Folk music is the oldest form of Romanian musical creation, characterised by great vitality; it is the defining source of the cultured musical creation, both religious and lay. Conservation of Romanian folk music has been aided by a large and enduring audience, also by numerous performers who helped propagate and further develop the folk sound. One of them, Gheorghe Zamfir, is famous throughout the world today and helped popularize a traditional Romanian folk instrument, the panpipes.

The religious musical creation, born under the influence of Byzantine music adjusted to the intonations of the local folk music, saw a period of glory between the 15th and 17th centuries, when reputed schools of liturgical music developed within Romanian monasteries. Western influences brought about the introduction of polyphony in religious music in the 18th century, a genre developed by a series of Romanian composers in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Traditional music

Traditional Romanian music reflects a confluence of sounds similar to Central European (especially Hungarian) as well as Balkan traditional music. In Romanian folk music, emphasis is on melody rather than percussion, with frequent use of the violin for melody. The melody itself and especially the melodic embellishments are reminiscent of music from further south in the Balkans.

Traditional Romanian song featuring a taragot.


In Banat, the violin is the most common folk instrument, now played alongside imported woodwind instruments; other instruments include the taragot (today often the saxophone plays the taragot role in bands). Efta Botoca is among the most renowned violinists from Banat.


Bucovina is a remote province and its traditions include some of the most ancient Romanian instruments, including the țilincă and the cobza. Pipes (fluieraș (small pipe) or fluier mare (large pipe)) are also played, usually with accompaniment by a cobza (more recently, the accordion). Violins and brass instruments have been imported in modern times.


Crișana has an ancient tradition of using violins, often in duos. This format is also found in Transylvania but is an older tradition. Petrică Pașca has recently helped popularize the taragot in the region. Also, in Roșia village are well known two local instruments: Hidede, a type of violin with a trumpet, replacing the resonance box and a type of drum called Dobă.

Northern Dobrogea

Dobrujan music is characterized by Balkan and Turkish rhythm and melodicism. Dobrogea's population is ethnically mixed and the music here has a heavier Turkish, Bulgarian, Tatar and Ukrainian import than in the rest of the country.

Maramureș and Oaș

The typical folk ensemble from Maramureș is zongora[1] and violin, often with drums. Maramureș is a remote province (like Bucovina) and its traditions include some of the most ancient Romanian instruments and peasant music. Its music shares a lot of features with Bucovina. Traditional flutes include the țilincă and Fluierul Gemanat (very similar to the Bulgarian Dvoyanka). Taragot, saxophones and accordions have more recently been introduced. Traditional singing in this region includes doina.

In Oaș, a violin adapted to be shriller is used, accompanied by the zongora. The singing in this region is also unique, shrill with archaic melodic elements.

Moldavia (Moldova)

Violin and țambal are the modern format most common in Moldavian dance music. Prior to the 20th century, however, the violin was usually accompanied by the cobza, which, although very rare, is still in use today.[2] Brass ensembles are now found in the central part of the county. Moldavia is also known for brass bands similar to those in Serbia.


Main article: Music of Transylvania

Transylvania has been historically and culturally more linked to Central European countries than Southeastern Europe, and its music reflects those influences. The province is tied historically to the smaller western regions of Maramureș, Criana and Banat and they are often referred to collectively as Transylvania.

Violin, kontra and double bass, sometimes with a cimbalom, are the most integral ensemble unit. All these instruments are used to play a wide variety of songs, including numerous kinds of specific wedding songs.

Drum, guitar and violin make up the typical band in Maramureș and virtuoso fiddlers are also popular in the area. In the end of the 1990s, the Maramuzical music festival was organized to draw attention to the indigenous music of the area.


Wallachia, consisting of Muntenia and Oltenia, is home to the taraf bands, which are perhaps the best-known expression of Romanian folk culture. Dances associated with tarafs include brâu, geamparale, sârbă and hora. The fiddle leads the music, with the cimbalom and double bass accompanying it. The cobza, once widespread in the region, has been largely replaced by the cimbalom. Lyrics are often about heroes like the haidouks. Taraf de Haïdouks is an especially famous taraf and have achieved international attention since their 1988 debut with the label Ocora. The Haidouks first attained visibility as lăutari, traditional entertainers at weddings and other celebratory occasions.


Oltenia's folk music and dance are similar to those in Muntenia. Violins and pipes are used, as are țambal and guitar, replacing the cobza as the rhythmic backing for tarafs. The cimpoi (bagpipe) is also popular in this region.


Muntenia has a diverse set of instrumentation. The flute (fluier in Romanian) and violin are the traditional melodic element, but now clarinets and accordions are more often used. Accordionists include the renowned performers Vasile Pandelescu and Ilie Udilă.


The most widespread form of Romanian folk music is the doina. Other styles of folk music include the bocet ("lament") and cântec bătrânesc (traditional epic ballads; literally "song of the elders").

Doina is poetic and often melancholic, sometimes compared to the blues for that reason. Doinas are often played with a slow, free rhythm melody against a fast accompaniment pattern in fixed tempo, giving an overall feeling of rhythmic tension. Melodies are sometimes repeated in differing songs and typically follow a descending pattern.

Regional styles of doina:

Other styles of doina:

Classical music

Angela Gheorghiu is one of the best-known Romanian sopranos

Main article: List of Romanian composers

Notable Romanian composers of the 19th and 20th centuries include Ciprian Porumbescu, Anton Pann, Eduard Caudella, Mihail Jora, Dinu Lipatti and especially George Enescu. Also famous are the composer and conductor Sergiu Celibidache and Vladimir Cosma.

The Australian composer Julian Cochran wrote works extensively titled Romanian Dances with a collection of piano works and six orchestral works, exemplifying affinity amongst classical composers with the Romanian folk music tradition outside of Romania.[3][self-published source].

And from the second half of the 20th century by the Romanian spectralism school: Ştefan Niculescu, Horațiu Rădulescu, Iancu Dumitrescu, Octavian Nemescu, Ana-Maria Avram and others.


Main article: List of Romanian jazz musicians

Jazz has been imported in Romania as early as the interwar period, thanks to musicians such as Sergiu Malagamba.[4] However, jazz music was banned after World War II, with the arrival of the communist regime. The ban was dropped in 1964.

Promoted but not limited to Cornel Chiriac, jazz musicians and others such as Eugen Ciceu, helped establish the genre in Romania, initially promoted alongside "easy music". Vocalist Aura Urziceanu has performed in New York City in 1972 and toured extensively under the name Aura Rully.

Although restrained, jazz after 1989 still has cult following, with a number of festivals such as Gărâna International Jazz Festival. Contemporary jazz singers include Johnny Răducanu, Anca Parghel and others. In recent years a few bands have emerged that make use of elements of nu-jazz, trip hop and electronic music: Aievea, Jazzadezz, Norzeatic & Khidja and others.

Popular music


Romanian rock music has a great history with an array of influences. During the 1980s, bands such as Iris, Transsylvania Phoenix, Celelalte Cuvinte, Compact, Holograf or Cargo achieved popularity, with songs about love and friendship. Contemporary popular Romanian rock bands include Vița de Vie, Robin And The Backstabbers, Coma, Alternosfera, Vama, Luna Amară, The Kryptonite Sparks, and Grimus.

Muzică uşoară românească

The term could be translated literally as "Romanian Easy Music" and, in the most common sense, this music is synonym with "Muzică de stradă" (from French "estrade", which means "podium"), defining a branch of Pop music developed in Romania after World War II, which appears generally in the form of easy danceable songs, made on arrangements, which are performed by orchestras (and lately pop bands), following a mix of the Soviet and Western pop music influences. This musical form shows many similarities with Western Popular music, as most songs could be defined as a form of Schlager. It supported influences from other similar melodic styles, like Musica leggera italiana (from Italy) and Canción Melódica (from Spain). This Romanian style of music was popularized abroad through the international Golden Stag Festival, held in Brașov, since 1968. The most representative singers of that era are those from the 1980s, 1970s and rarely, the 1960s: Aurelian Andreescu, Elena Cârstea, Corina Chiriac, Mirabela Dauer, Stela Enache, Luigi Ionescu, Horia Moculescu, Margareta Pâslaru, Angela Similea, Dan Spătaru and Aura Urziceanu.


Romanţă (plural: romanţe) is a vocal or instrumental musical piece, sung in a poetic and sentimental mood. It appears as an accessible and expressive melody, on the background of piano and guitar orchestral arrangements. It presents similarities to British music style "Easy Music". The history of Romanian romanţe can be traced back until the Interwar period, when it became famous through the agency of the most popular Romanian singer of that time, Marin Teodorescu, who is better known as Zavaidoc. After World War II, singers like Gică Petrescu integrated in this music orchestral elements, which are specific for Argentinian style, Tango Nuevo.

Folclor Suburban


Anton Pann had the first few transcriptions of a new style that was present in the suburbs of Bucharest in the 19th century. The new style flourished and grew, being promoted by ordinary musicians playing in suburbs called Mahala. This musical style combined the Balkan (many traditional folkloric genres, including Turkish) and Gypsy styles into a new style called Manele. After the Romanian Revolution in 1990, this genre was booming. A few contemporary bands that promoted the style are:

Some modern manele singers, among others, are:


Etno music is a popular Romanian style, which keeps most accurate the typical ethnic sound of Romanian traditional folk music. It is adapted to the modern sound of music, as employs frequently synthesizers along with the typical traditional instruments. It emerged in the early 1990s as a revival of Romanian traditional folk music and maintained a constant popularity until nowadays. It has the largest audience through the fans of Romanian folk music and it is popularized, along with Romanian folk music, through the medium of Etno TV, a Romanian Television, dedicated mainly to Romanian folk music, especially the modern side of this music.

Contemporary Romanian folk

Acoustic Romanian style of music, inspired by American folk music, with sweet lyrics and played almost exclusively with guitar. Generally, it evokes a poetic and melancholic atmosphere. It emerged in the early 1960s, along with the first releases of Phoenix band. It was promoted later, through the medium of the Cenaclul Flacăra, a cultural phenomenon from the 1970s and the first half of the 1980s, which was initiated by Adrian Păunescu, a Romanian poet. A lot of Romanian folk artists gain affirmation through the Cenaclul Flacăra movement: Mircea Vintilă, Vasile Șeicaru, Florian Pittiș, Valeriu Sterian, Nicu Alifantis, Alexandru Zărnescu, Victor Socaciu, Vasile Mardare.

Rock music

From the early years of the communist regime (the 1960s) there was an active rock scene in Romania. Because of their free attitude which was associated with Western culture and the capitalist society, the communist regime censored rock musicians as much as possible.[5] From the beginning they had a "paria" social position. Symbols of the movement such as long hair, jeans, stage attitude were considered decadent. The bands operated under the name of "instrumental-vocal musical ensemble" to avoid the expression "rock", which was considered to be subversive.[6] Despite this, the rock scene resisted with consequence in a kind of "official underground" before the 1989 Revolution.[7]

Veterans of the scene kept the rock spirit alive under difficult restrictive conditions.[8] The connection with the "news" from the West was made within radio stations such "Free Europe", which were disallowed. Rock was in these troubled times for its Romanian supporters more than music. It was attitude against the lack of freedom.[9] Names with historical resonance for the Romanian rock movement include Phoenix, Sfinx, Roșu și Negru, Mondial, Sincron, Sideral, Semnal M, Metropol, FFN, Progresiv TM, Pro Musica, Catena, Iris, Compact, Holograf, Timpuri Noi, Krypton, Cargo, Celelalte Cuvinte, Post Scriptum, Florian Pittiș, Cornel Chiriac, Dan Andrei Aldea, Octave Octavian Teodorescu, Sorin Chifiriuc, Nicu Covaci, Valeriu Sterian, Mircea Baniciu, Ovidiu Lipan, Ilie Stepan, Liviu Tudan, Mircea Florian, Dorin Liviu Zaharia, Teo Peter, Florin Ochescu, Cristi Minculescu, Dan Bittman.

The political freedom and the cultural openness gained after the 1989 Revolution marked a new era for rock music in Romania. The scene is now very active, despite rock music not being one of the main acts in Romanian mass media. Rock clubs have a rich list of concerts. There are yearly organized great rock festivals with national and international character.[10]


In the 1990s and the early 2000s, with the emergence of independent television and radio stations, the term easy music has been replaced by pop. Mainstream success is shared between early dance-pop bands such as A.S.I.A., Animal X, Blondy, Body & Soul, L.A., 3rei Sud Est or Akcent, pop-rock singers and bands such as Ștefan Bănică Jr., Holograf, Bosquito, Voltaj or VH2, hip-hop outfits such as B.U.G. Mafia, La Familia, Paraziții or Ca$$a Loco, Latino singers (Pepe) and others (the electronic band Șuie Paparude and alternative rock bands such as Vama Veche, Bere Gratis, Sarmalele Reci, OCS, Spitalul de Urgență, Zdob și Zdub or Luna Amară that are still popular, especially underground).

Romanian popcorn music

See also: List of music released by Romanian artists that has charted in major music markets

With the exception of Moldavian-based band O-Zone, Romanian Europop had not achieved considerable echoes outside the borders of the country until 2005, when the band Morandi reached success with songs written in English, Brazilian-Portuguese and other languages. The music style of Morandi, DJ Project, Fly Project and a few others marks the transitional period to the Romanian dance-pop of the late 2000s and early 2010s.

Artists such as Edward Maya, Vika Jigulina, Alexandra Stan, Andreea Bănică, Smiley, Inna, Andreea Bălan, Antonia, David Deejay, Play & Win and Radio Killer brought a new sound has emerged that has managed to achieve commercial success outside Romania and dominate the national TV and radio music charts. This new sound, nicknamed pejoratively by some "popcorn"[11] after the name of one of its characteristic synths, is characterized by "shiny", danceable melodies, hooks sometimes based on synthesized accordion[12] and simple lyrics written most often in English, accompanied by videos frequently featuring young women. "Popcorn" has been criticized by some as superficial (sometimes being even compared to Manele), overly commercial, repetitive and easily grating, as a large number of producers and performers have adopted this sound in a short period of time. However, since Romanian spectralism is virtually unknown outside the avant-garde music community, "popcorn" may be considered the first movement in the history of Romanian history to gain momentum.

House music

An important influence on Romanian dance-pop was house music, which gained so much following in clubs that, thanks to radio stations such as Pro FM, has attained mainstream status. Minimal house in the vein of Ricardo Villalobos has and is being produced by DJs such as Petre Inspirescu, but vocal-based house continues to have more success. As of recently, dubstep has emerged alongside house music, although currently still underground.

Underground music

Pre-1989 underground bands include the new-wave band Rodion G.A. alongside older rock bands such as Celelalte Cuvinte and Semnal M. First electronic music attempts belong to composer Adrian Enescu.

First represented by bands such as Vorbire Directă and R.A.C.L.A., hip-hop music has achieved quickly mainstream success with bands such as B.U.G. Mafia, La Familia and Paraziții, in spite of them being criticized for delivering explicit language and themes. The scene is currently split between mainstream rappers (Puya, Guess Who) and underground rappers (Vexxatu Vexx, CTC., Haarp Cord). Labels dedicated to hip-hop include Hades Records, 20 CM Records and Facem Records (the first independent hip-hop label from Romania).

Rock scene is currently split between metal bands (such as Negură Bunget and Trooper), progressive and indie rock outfits (byron, Kumm, Robin and the Backstabbers). There are also other niches such as punk rock (E.M.I.L. Haos, Terror Art) or post-rock (Valerinne).

Underground electronic music scene has been until 2010 somewhat unified by the existence of the Timișoara-based festival TMBase, reuniting DJs and producers from genres such as drum and bass, breakbeat, dub techno, electronic rock etc. A result of TMBase collaborations is the IDM outfit Makunouchi Bento, who have attracted some attention with their Bandcamp-released material.[13] Also notable is the label La Strada Music, which has been home to names such as Silent Strike (who has gained acclaim on the Internet and some radio stations with the single Astenie featuring Ada Milea), Yvat (a prolific IDM producer of Belgian origin, based in Bucharest), Electric Brother, nu-jazz outfit Aievea and others.

Trip hop and post-rock have influenced a few bands such as Margento, but dream pop, shoegaze and other niche genres are poorly represented. Freak folk is partially known due to the success of singer-songwriter Ada Milea, but is practiced by only a few other bands such as Nu & Apa Neagră. The producer Minus has attempted to introduce bitpop and, more recently, chillwave.

Dubstep DJs have started to emerge, though with the genre has also been associated the band R.O.A., who have achieved some mainstream success thanks to the leader Junkyard, formerly vocalist in Șuie Paparude.

Music festivals

See also: Category:Festivals in Romania

Jazz festivals

Electronic Music

See also



  1. ^ "Guitar and Zongora Regions of Romania".
  2. ^ "Festivalul tarafurilor "CONSTANTIN LUPU" – prima editie -". Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  3. ^ Stephen Pleskun (2012). A Chronological History of Australian Composers and Their Compositions - Vol. 4. Xlibris Corporation.[self-published source]
  4. ^ "Sergiu Malagamba -". Archived from the original on 5 July 2013. Retrieved 2 February 2022.
  5. ^ Arta Sunetelor - Magazine - 2009-01-25 Article: Interview with Florin Ochescu (Reporter: Sorin Lupașcu)
    • Yes! There was Romanian rock before the '80s! There are many explanations for the lack of recordings ... including the fact that during this period the censorship operated oscillating ... when more severe when larger, I think this was a policy to keep the things under control, culturally at that time. (in Romanian)
  6. ^ History National Museum of Romania - Project "The Communism in Romania" - Article: Our youthfulness - The music of the '70s-'80s
    • Beyond the music and text, clothes and haircut distinguish the rockers from the rest of the population. Through this, young displayed openly a statement to the regime. On the other hand, the censorship gave way in the press only negative news about the rock (drug use, sexual promiscuity, violence). So it was that if you wanted to be on TV or in a more importantly concert, your hair had to be cut, you don't wag and, especially, to be clothed regulation: the uniform of the band was a popular shirt or suit. In any case you could not show up dressed in jeans and T-shirt. If you passed the test "suit" after that you had to argue on the repertoire, it was not allowed to sing in foreign languages or parts that the censorship don't like. There have been cases where censorship expressly requested to modify the words of some lyrics. (in Romanian)
  7. ^ Formula As - Magazine - 2004 Article: Interview with Iulian Vrabete (Reporter: Corina Pavel)
    • We appeared rarely on TV, because we had long hair and we had to collect it back with clips, to mask it. But the concerts were extraordinary and the world loved us unconditionally. Maybe where there were no other offers. (in Romanian)
  8. ^ Adevărul - Newspaper - 2012-06-14 Interview with Cristi Minculescu, singer (Reporter: Laurențiu Ungureanu)
    • It was, until '90, a struggle, a continual torment. With that chasing, with the censorship. But we can not arrogate credit for that time because we weren't the only ones in that situation. (in Romanian)
  9. ^ - Project of the "Society Online" Association - 2012-05-10 Article: In Memoriam Cornel Chiriac an unforgettable soldier of liberty (Author: Vladimir Tismăneanu
    • Cornel Chiriac, the one who, first at "Radio Romania", then at the Radio "Free Europe" proved that rock music could undermine the petrified system, it can be an efficient form to contest the totalitarianism and the retrieval of dignity. He was one of the most prized radio journalists by the legendary Bernard Noel. He didn't just exceptional music programs, but organized true tribunes for freedom. (in Romanian)
  10. ^ "Cronici concerte / evenimente". Retrieved 4 July 2015.
  11. ^ "Ce parere aveti despre stilul POPCORN?". Forumul Softpedia. Retrieved 4 July 2015.
  12. ^ "Romanian Dance-Pop (aka Popcorn, Romanian Popcorn, Romanian Dance Music) - Music Genres - Rate Your Music". Retrieved 4 July 2015.
  13. ^ "Makunouchi Bento". 29 December 2014. Retrieved 4 July 2015.
  14. ^ "Masters of Jazz Festival - Editia 2009". June 21, 2015. Archived from the original on 2015-06-21.
  15. ^ "2010 Events". February 7, 2010. Archived from the original on 2010-02-07.
  16. ^ "Garana".
  17. ^ "Festivalul "JAZZ AND MORE" |Sibiu 03-05 oct. 2014| Jazz, improvised music, contemporary music, creative music, art rock, muzica electronica..."
  18. ^ "Sibiu Jazz Festival". January 7, 2013. Archived from the original on 2013-01-07.
  19. ^ "Home".
  20. ^ "Website Disabled". Archived from the original on 2013-11-16. Retrieved 2020-05-10.
  21. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 30 March 2016. Retrieved 15 January 2022.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  22. ^ "Awake Festival 2020".
  23. ^ "NEVERSEA Festival".
  24. ^ ACCES 2 ZILE LA FESTIVAL. "Cumpara online bilete Festivalul ARTmania". Retrieved 2020-05-10.((cite web)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  25. ^ "International Pop Music Festival for Children and Youth". May 20, 2012. Archived from the original on 2012-05-20.
  26. ^ Clayson, Nancy (17 March 2012). "International Pop Music Festival Crystal Star begins online registration!". Belle News. Retrieved 9 June 2012.
  27. ^ a b "Harmonia Cordis »".