“For me, the pan flute is like artist’s Brancusi stone and chisels gab, like Enescu’s violin and bow or the quill he used to write his scores, like the ones of Eliade and Cioran, as well, is the essence of my life, my country and my people. Without it, I wouldn’t have existed as an artist.”
Following the artistic expression of an instrument that most people forgot about, Mr. Gheorghe Zamfir succeeded to make a masterpiece of sound of the pan flute and to gain the applauses from the whole world. He transformed the form, the construction and the technique of this instrument, creating a better way of interpreting and introducing the pan flute in different musical genres, this way creating a revolution of sound appreciated by the modern musical industry. This is how great movie producers ask him to create the soundtracks for “Karate Kid”, “Kill Bill” or “Once Upon a Time in America”. Being not only a gentleman of music but also a gentleman of style, Mr. Zamfir shows elegance in performance and in appearance, as well, proudly wearing menswear brands from Trends by Adina Buzatu.
What does it mean, in fact, to be a gentleman?
To be a gentleman it’s a huge thing! The word comes from the French language where “gentilhomme” means a nice man, a good man. Today, when everyone wants to be someone, when our culture means football, drinks, clubs, Facebook, WhatsApp, internet, things that replace the normality of an elegant, noble attitude, it’s difficult to be a gentleman. You can only find the real value of a gentleman in the characters from the old books and in the men from the other days.
You said, in an interview, that from a poor man you became the prince of elegance. Now you have a great taste of style. Where does it come from?
I left home as a poor man regarding clothes and style, in 1970, and went to Paris. But in 1959, when I won the first prize and the title of music laureate for the country, from the money I gained I bought my first suit, shirt, necktie and shoes. Then, when I started to gain more money, I started to invest in bespoke suits. At 25 I was a conductor for the biggest Romanian orchestra and I couldn’t go on stage without a good suit. But Paris was the place where I started the greatest adventure. A 24 years contract at the biggest house record in France changed me completely. I had money to buy clothes from the most famous brands – Yves Saint Laurent, Ted Lapidus, Valentino, G.F. Ferre, Cartier and my favorite, Francesco Smalto. That was the moment when they named me The Prince of Elegance. Now, working with Adina Buzatu on my style, made me come back to that moment of elegance. Adina reminded me of who I really am.
But, what was that moment when you realized that you really are a star?
It happened very late…In 1984, I’ve read an article in Bilboard USA with the title “Zamfir Superstar”. I was 43 years old at that time and I’ve have already conquered America twice – with the folklore in 1973 and with pop-symphonic and classic in 1983 – being ranked the artist with the most audience in Canada and USA after conquering Europe, Japan, Australia, South Africa, New Zeeland, South Korea and after wining many gold and platinum records.
After this unbelievable career and success, what does pan flute mean to you?
For me, the pan flute is like artist’s Brancusi stone and chisels gab, like Enescu’s violin and bow or the quill he used to write his scores, like the ones of Eliade and Cioran, as well, is the essence of my life, my country and my people. Without it, I wouldn’t have existed as an artist.
You remember when did you touch this instrument for the first time?
Of course, it happened when I was 14. September 1955. I was at home, in Gaesti. I used to tell my father again and again that I can’t live without music. I even threatened him that if he doesn’t send me to study music in Bucharest, I will kill myself. So, I convince him, with the help of my mother and my brother, to send me to the Special Musical School in Bucharest. I passed the exam and I started to study the pan flute only for a while, because at that time I didn’t like this instrument that much. My favorite was the accordion. I was very skilled with it.
Though, the pan flute brought you the fame. Who inspired you?
The musician Damian Luca, who was already famous at 21 years old, inspired me. I was 16 at that time.
In the end, do you consider that the celebrity changed you?
It’s true that fame can change an artist, but not an art missionary, not a major artist who understood his mission and purpose for his country, his people, his humanity and his God who guided him. Without faith and God nothing is possible.
Interview published in The Gentleman’s Journal