This taraf made some excellent recordings (CD Zamfir a Paris). He changed the composition of the band soon after: Efta Botoca (violin), Marin Chisar (flutes), Dorin Ciobaru and Pavel Cebzan (clarinet and tarogato), Petre Vidrean (bass) and Pantelimon Stînga (cymbalum).
It is said that this change was made to increase the command of Zamfir and have more artistic freedom. A turning point was the recording of Zamfir’s composition “Messe pour la Paix” (Philips).His taraf joined a choir and a symphonic orchestra. This was evidence of the growing ambition.
While the Philips recordings of that time were rather conservative, Zamfir preached revolution in the concert halls with daring performances. Some[who?] say that this short period was the highlight of his career. In 1979, he recorded “the Lonely Shepherd” with James Last.
Zamfir put himself on the world map and since then his career became highly varied, hovering over classical repertoire, easy listening and pop music.
Zamfir’s big break in the English-speaking world came when the BBC religious television programme “The Light of Experience” adopted his recording of “Doina De Jale”, 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 UK hit single, but it helped pave the way for a consistent stream of album sales in Britain. His song “Summer Love” reached number 9 in South Africa in November 1976.
In 1983, he scored a No. 3 hit on the Canadian Adult Contemporary chart with “Blue Navajo,” and several of his albums (including 1982’s Romance and 1983’s Childhood Dreams) have charted in Canada as well.
After nearly a decade-long absence, Zamfir returned to Canada in January 2006 for a seven-city tour with the Traffic Strings quintet. The program included a world premiere of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons for PanFlute and string quintet arranged by Lucian Moraru, jazz standards, and well-known favourites.
Gheorghe Zamfir & Traffic Strings
In 2009, Zamfir was sampled by Animal Collective in the song “Graze” on their EP Fall Be Kind.
In 2012, Zamfir performed at the opening ceremony of the 11th Conference of Parties to the Ramsar Convention at the Palace of the Parliament in Bucharest, Romania.
One of his most notable contributions was to the soundtrack for the classic Australian film Picnic at Hanging Rock. His first appearance in 1972 as soloist interpreter in a movie soundtrack was in Vladimir Cosma’s “Le grand blond avec une chaussure noire” with a very famous and successful melody known all over the world.
His music has also been heard on the soundtracks of many Hollywood movies. He was asked by Ennio Morricone to perform the pieces “Childhood Memories” and “Cockeye’s Song” for the soundtrack of Sergio Leone’s 1984 gangster film Once Upon a Time in America.
His performance can be heard throughout the 1984 film The Karate Kid, and his piece “The Lonely Shepherd”, recorded with the James Last Orchestra, was the theme from the 1979 television series ‘Golden Soak’, a British/German/Australian co-production.
It is also featured in Quentin Tarantino’s film Kill Bill: Volume 1. The melody “The Lonely Shepherd” was written by James Last and first released on his album “Memories from Russia”, released 1977 (Polydor Germany 2371 856), which also featured Zamfir on the track “Nadjenka”.
The panflute was played by Gheorghe Zamfir, who had a contract with the Philips record company. An agreement was made that Zamfir could release “The Lonely Shepherd” as a single (45 rpm) on the Philips label.
His song Frunzuli?a Lemn Adus Cântec De Nunta (Fluttering Green Leaves Wedding Song) appears in the Studio Ghibli film Only Yesterday.
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