“What is the singing?...
The singing is a necessity. If man doesn’t sing he dies. It is a grace, it is a transcendental custom, it is a chance from God.
The most beautiful lines ever spoken about music are the following:

“It is a blessing that I know how to sing,
For I’m quiet my heart.
Songs are made to quite yourself
For worried man.”


GRIGORE LEŞE -signature


The songs are called ‘hori’: ‘hore în grumaz’(‘song in neck’), ‘hore înturnată’(‘coming back song’), ‘hore adâncată’(‘bottom song’), ‘hore moroşenească’(‘morosheneasca’ -from region of Maramureş (Maramuresh), the North-Western part of Romania).
  Why does man sing?... For this it comes to him: for instance, because of the old age effort.
  When does man sing?... When it comes to him.
  What’s the difference between the Romanian traditional music and gipsylike fiddle’s music?...
  Romanian music expresses a certain feeling: of love, of longing, of alienation or sorrowful songs; the suburban music voices a sensual exaltation.
  The peasant would sing in order to voice a feeling, the fiddlers are doing it for money.
  Some serves the folklore others benefit by it.

  On the earth we have two chances: the faith and the art.”

Words told by Grigore Leşe within the framework of a chat with some youngsters.



  Constantin Brăiloiu, talking to the inter-war youth about our nation would to say:
“Only through our peasant-like culture we will mean something in this big world. By using the Western arms we won’t be able to defeat it and many years has to go by until we shall stop being a caricature or, at the best, an unimportant Western imitation.”
     Martin Opitz, a German magistrate and a highly cultivated man who walked around the world, said in 1620:
“When I get the chance to listen to a Romanian song, I feel inclined to believe that the music is deliberately created for the Romanian and the Romanian is created for music.”
     For the formerly Romanian the music interweave with life itself and had a sacred value. When he was to sing he did it with all his powers, he wasn't lying.
     The shepherd Horpin Gherasim, 72 years old, from Vãdeni-Soroca Basarabia said in 1939:
“I can’t sing ‘The Shepherd’s Doina’ whenever I want but only when I’m hitted upon it, and then I sing it with all my heart that I give it to people… This means to take great pity on people to sing it.”
   ‘Horea cu noduri’ (‘song with knots’), ‘horea lungă’ (‘the long song’) or ‘doina maramureşeană’ (‘doina from Maramuresh’) -as it is known amoung ethnomusicologist) is a manner of interpretation by means of which the peasant confess his most profound life experiences.
Is ‘cântecul de unul singur’ (‘the song by oneself’) and can be singing on the hill, in ‘cătănie’ (approximate translation ‘conscription’ -in the village before to go into the military service, and in the army), on the wedding and ‘şezători’ (‘sittings’ -evening sitting of village women). Unfortunately, this song is preserved only in some villages from Maramureş and Ţara Lăpuşului (‘The Land of Lapush’).
     The personal emphasis, which lacks gratuitous harmonies draws this music near the Eastern Christian Orthodox Church’s cultic music -Byzantine Psaltic music (which in fact, had as its origin the traditional music from Middle East and Balkans).
     Grigore Leşe, (Gregory Leshe) that is ‘Grigore a li Ion Opriş’ (‘John Oprish’s Gregory’), as the peasants from Stoiceni (Lăpuş) call him, although he had fallowed the Academy of Music from Cluj (town from Transylvania -the West part of Romania), he preserved this interpretative manner which he had learned it from his village.
“I’m proud I graduated an institut of folklore called Ţara Lăpuşului (‘The Land of Lapush’); -asserts Grigore Leşe- who are in fact the teachers of this institute?…  They are wonderful people whom I have met there along years and who had in their souls some particular songs which I think are the most representative for our Romanian spirituality: ‘doinele’ (‘the doinas’), ‘horile cu noduri’ (‘the hores with knots’) and other songs from the wedding ceremony, ‘de cătănie’, from pastoral life and so on”.
    Before anything else, Grigore Leşe is -by what he does, a strong fighter for the keeping of authenticity in folklore against any counterfeit:
“Along years I wanted to interpret the songs which could be found men’s soul, or songs of this kind are very few; for this reason I confess I do not posses a vast repertory, for, beyond anything I wanted to retain the quality; I do not produce music on running belt.
 The career: it is a path; I've decided upon it; unfortunately, some people have mistaken the artistic career with artistic advertising; the artistic advertising created false values. Some wanted to get rich by means of folklore, I tell you the folklore must not be exploited for making a fortune.
 Others have viewed the folklore as a relaxation, but I tell you that this is not a loosening up. The artistic performance which have no value are as damaging, dangerous for society as transgressions and should be punished as such.” -says Grigore Leşe.
     In the last period, we have attended at a decadence of a folklore, which is mostly a business matter; any old serious song suffers alteration: it is changed into a jumping rhythm (sometimes doina was barbarously transformed into dancing) and the song becomes standardized, commonplace (the folklore is usually characterized by variations of measure within a framework of a song).
     Another problem is that of replacement of the text with verses which has nothing to do with genuine folklore, coming to a serious crippling initial meaning of the message. Thus the song becomes superficial, lacking depth and deprived of its authentic essence, which in the last analysis becomes of no value.
     But how is the cause of this decadence? : It is the degeneracy of man’s soul, his spiritual impoverishment, for the song is the soul’s mirror. Man’s conduct determines the song*.

  Though the recordings have their purpose, I assure you that the impact a listening of Grigore Leşe in concert / live is inconceivably strong.
  Grigore Leşe made numerous tours abroad; his recital is called ‘La Obârşii’ -‘At Springs’, or ‘At Origins’, and it aims at promoting Romanian traditional music: “We will never be truly made known by others until we be able to prove throughout the world what longing means, what ‘doina’ means, that is an unaccompanied music. I think that the most representative song is ‘horea de unul singur’ (‘horea by oneself’), which man performs it in private for the folklore act always takes place in private. If we consider the Romanian nation have been so put to test in the course of history, I think these ‘hori de unul singur’ (‘horeas by oneself’) are the most fitted for they speak about alienation, sorrow.” -says Grigore Leşe.
  A concert given by Grigore Leşe is -without any doubt- a genuine revelation; his concerts are conceived as an image which presents man’s life stages with his arrangements (orders), with his passings: the birth (presented by ‘cântecul de leagãn’ -‘the cradle song’ (lullaby), the ‘cătănie’ (by ‘conscription song’, also by old songs which formerly were interpreted on different battle-fronts), wedding (songs from the wedding ceremony like ‘bride’s horea’), hoary age (old age), death (‘Mioritza’, the ‘bocet’ (lamentation, or wailing), or the spiritual life connected with holidays (like ‘corinzile’ (the ‘corinzas’ -carols).
  Being a redutable interpreter of these unique ‘hori’ (‘horas’) with ancestral resonances, Grigore Leşe is also a perfect connaisseur of traditional instruments like the ‘fluier’ (the flute, or pipe) with its different types, the ‘caval’ (‘long shepherd’s pipe’), the ‘tilinca’ (‘the shepherd’s pipe’), ‘toaca’ (the ‘bell board’, or ‘tolling wood’).
In the case of urtain songs he is accompanied by a transylvanian trio made up from ‘ceteră’ (violin), ‘contră’ (viola) and ‘gordună’ (double bass).
  If the song would spring from the peasant’s way of life, and, due to this thing one may understand that the true folklore defines itself by the fact that it manifests in its own natural environment, and a stage (scenic) adjustment (adaptation) may falsify the authentic artistic act in one way or another, the transposition which is done by Grigore Leºe is natural enough, being far from having something artificially in it both in interpretation and scenery -some traditional objects suggest the once atmosphere of the Romanian village. The good taste or rather the mather wit and quality are the natural attributes and at the same time guarantees of a concert given by Grigore Leşe.
 His concerts might be characterized by sobriety, a sobriety characteristic of our traditional music.
 Before anything, a concert given by Grigore Leşe creates an image; an image of longing, an image of hills, an image of the former anonymous Romanian peasant. But not an image which has a smack of museum’s exhibit; create a living image rather an atmosphere, an atmosphere which awake or stir up in you the deepest feelings; it is a frame of mind.
 It is a song which resists in time; a song which might be put beside any great creations and masterpieces of the world; a proof of a God-gracegifted nation with a creative calling…

You can listen and copy on your PC hard-disk the Grigore Leşe’s songs from below list:




Cântec pe înserat -from ‘tilinca’   


Mioriţa  .asf
Cântec în lemn -from ‘toaca’    .asf
Când m-o făcut mama-n lume  .asf
Nu-i lumină nicări -in concert .asf
Horea miresii -in concert   .asf
Nistrule, apă vioară .asf


 The passings:

“Man’s life have to be conceived as a single day; when the sun rises and ascends in the sky and then sets down.” -says Grigore Leşe.

  The first stage would be ‘cătănia’, when the lad becomes mature: ‘horile de cătănie’ (‘the conscription horas’) markes a historical time, conscription shouldn’t be understood as a departure for a short time -that is military service; it should be understood as a departure for a long time; the conscription also means war, trouble. The departure into the war means trouble; it means to draw out an arm (a manpower) from the family and nature’s sense. Anyway, the recruitment calls for a proper ceremonial.

  The second important stage is the wedding. In this stage we have a special ceremonial as well: there are a few moments which are worth mentioning like ‘oraţiile de nuntă’ -the wedding poems, ‘oraţiile de iertăciune’ -the poems of forgiveness, ‘oraţiile de la masa mare’ -the poems uttered at the great feast. The wedding means a passage from one world to another: from a world of childish innocence to one of austerity with the everyday troubles. The bride is the wedding central character; the moment when the bride puts on her sash -a moment in which they sing ‘horea miresii’ (‘the bride’s horea’) - is one of the important moments which best marks this stage. The wedding has joy but (also) sadness so.

  ‘Mioritza’ ballad best illustrates ‘the great stage’- the death: it is -equally- about the value of assumed sacrifice and of the transfiguration of the death. ‘Mioritza’ is probably the most representative creation of our folklore, being a true masterpiece, it is song as a ballad, in Transylvania it is singing also at as a ‘corindă’ (carol); Grigore Leşe interpret a precious version of ‘doina’.
  The recital ends with a ‘hore’ which speaks about the man’s passing through the world and it is called ‘Nu gândeacscă tăt omu’’(‘Don’t every man think’):


“Don’t every man think
He will live forever
And do what he likes
He may live a day, or two
And he’ll be gone like the dew
He may live a two or three,
Like the dew he will melt.”

  Traditional musical instruments:

'Tilinca' ('The Shepherd’s Pipe')“In the old days, the matter was called wood: the churches were made of wood; ‘trâmbiţa’ is made of wood, the ‘bucium’ is made of wood, the ‘toaca’ (the bell board) is the wood itself, the same with ‘tilinca’ (‘the shepherd’s pipe’): a simply tube with no holes or plug at the top of it as in the case of the flute (pipe), the ‘tilinca’ is itself the wood’s song…” -says Grigore Leşe.
‘Tilinca’ is 65cm long and is made of sycamore maple’ bark, osier, common elder or lime tree.


'Toaca' ('The Bell Board') and its malets‘Toaca’ -‘The Bell Board’: a wooden block which one strikes it rhythmically by means of two malets. The bell board is liturgically used in Eastern Orthodox Church services, but is also an traditional instrument, connected with the life of the village community, which aims at a space purification, in order to open the way between God and man, to bring the God’s blessing in his life (for instance, ‘the bell board’ is used when the precints of a village is founded; ‘toaca’ was being sounded and an the place its sound ended until there the boards of the village extended).
“The bell board voice is a voice from another world… its voice makes the connection between sky and earth, between what is visible and what is invisible. When I hear toaca’s voice I forgive all who have done any harm to me, and then I try to become much sã devin mai bun” -says Grigore Leşe.

 ‘Fluierul’ -the flute (or the pipe): accompanied the group of waits (carol singers); after ‘fluier’ people dance in ‘şezătoare’, and the shepherd would confort his soul ‘saying’ in the flute.
 By instrument one is ‘saying’, and the instrumental tunes are called ‘zâcăli’ -‘sayings’.

  ‘Horea cu noduri’ (‘The horea with knots’) -an ethnomusicological definition:

The ‘doina’ from Maramuresh, is called ‘hore lungă’ (‘long hore’) or ‘hore înturnată’ (approximate translation: ‘the comming back hore’), ‘hore în grumaz’ (‘the hore in neck’) or most often ‘hore cu noduri’ (‘hore with knots’).
In fact ‘horea cu noduri’ is not really a special category, a genre, but rather a manner of ‘doina’ interpretation acquired through a guttural vocal technique, the knots being strikes of glottis performed through the neck’s muscles contraction, in which, anterior to a ground point, two approximate sound are emitted from a intonational point view an small length of time, one lower and the other upper in ratio of forces with to the base (real) point.
The ‘long horea with knots’, is chiefly sung by the old men of the Valea Marei (The Mara’s Valley), Valea Izei (The Iza’s Valley) and Valea Cosăului (Cosău’s Valley) but particularly by the ones from Ţara Lăpuşului (‘The Land of Lapush’) which is a picturesque Transylvanian area.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the great musician Béla Bartók, fascinated by the discovery of the long horea from Maramuresh, also striken by the technical difficulty of performing altogether distinguished, used to say: “It is a song inimitable by others”.


Cross from maramureshian gate