Toni Iordache

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Toni Iordache (17 December 1942 – February 1988) was a Romani-Romanian lăutar and one of the most famous cimbalom (Romanian: ţambal) players in the world. He was nicknamed the God of the Cimbalom [1] and Paganini of the cimbalom.

Romani people ethnic group living mostly in Europe and the Americas

The Romani, colloquially known as Gypsies or Roma, are an Indo-Aryan ethnic group, traditionally itinerant, living mostly in Europe and the Americas and originating from the northern Indian subcontinent, from the Rajasthan, Haryana, and Punjab regions of modern-day India.

Romania Sovereign state in Europe

Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. It borders the Black Sea to the southeast, Bulgaria to the south, Ukraine to the north, Hungary to the west, Serbia to the southwest, and Moldova to the east. It has a predominantly temperate-continental climate. With a total area of 238,397 square kilometres (92,046 sq mi), Romania is the 12th largest country and also the 7th most populous member state of the European Union, having almost 20 million inhabitants. Its capital and largest city is Bucharest, and other major urban areas include Cluj-Napoca, Timișoara, Iași, Constanța, Craiova, and Brașov.


The Romanian word Lăutar denotes a class of musicians. Most often, and by tradition, lăutari are members of a professional clan of Romani musicians, also called țigani lăutari. The term is derived from lăută, the Romanian word for lute. Lăutari usually perform in bands, called taraf.


Early life

Toni was born in Bâldana village, near Bucharest, and began learning the instrument from his father when he was four. Some years later his family would move to Bucharest in the Herăstrău neighborhood, where many famous lăutari lived. There, Toni continued to learn from Mitică Ciuciu, who was a famous cimbalom player in his days.


At 12, he was employed at the National Radio Orchestra of Popular Music. Later he became a member of the Ciocârlia National Ensemble, the primary popular ensemble in the country. With the Ciocârlia Ensemble, Toni Iordache toured the world: many European countries, the USA and also Asian countries. In between tours, he would play at weddings, being the most sought after lăutar of his day. Often, after landing at the airport he would drive directly to a wedding where the other musicians were waiting for him.

Europe Continent in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere

Europe is a continent located entirely in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere. It is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. It comprises the westernmost part of Eurasia.

United States federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Asia Earths largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern and Northern Hemispheres

Asia is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern and Northern Hemispheres. It shares the continental landmass of Eurasia with the continent of Europe and the continental landmass of Afro-Eurasia with both Europe and Africa. Asia covers an area of 44,579,000 square kilometres (17,212,000 sq mi), about 30% of Earth's total land area and 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area. The continent, which has long been home to the majority of the human population, was the site of many of the first civilizations. Asia is notable for not only its overall large size and population, but also dense and large settlements, as well as vast barely populated regions. Its 4.5 billion people constitute roughly 60% of the world's population.

He won two gold medals: in Vienna(1959) and Sofia (1966) and appeared as guest soloist on Zoltan Kodaly's 'Hary János Suite' performed by the NHK Symphony Orchestra, in Tokyo, in 1973.

Among others, he played with Romica Puceanu, Gabi Luncă, Ion Onoriu, Ionică Minune and also with the well-known pan flute ( nai ) player Gheorghe Zamfir.

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In the early seventies Toni Iordache was arrested for possession of foreign currency, which was strictly forbidden in communist Romania. He reportedly wanted to buy a fur coat for his wife with it. Despite his high popularity and interventions in his favor he was sentenced to three years in jail. His imprisonment was kept undisclosed to the press, only his friends knew. During his time in jail he lost greatly in weight, but he recovered fast after his release and was able to resume his musical activity. His time in jail was made easier by both his fellow inmates and guards that were very fond of him.


Toni Iordache became seriously ill with diabetes. The doctors recommended to have his leg amputated, but the operation did not save his life. He died in February 1988. His friend and fellow musician Costel Vasilescu (also known as Costel Trompetistu') took care of the funeral.

Diabetes mellitus a disease characterized by long term high blood sugar

Diabetes mellitus (DM), commonly referred to as diabetes, is a group of metabolic disorders characterized by high blood sugar levels over a prolonged period. Symptoms of high blood sugar include frequent urination, increased thirst, and increased hunger. If left untreated, diabetes can cause many complications. Acute complications can include diabetic ketoacidosis, hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state, or death. Serious long-term complications include cardiovascular disease, stroke, chronic kidney disease, foot ulcers, and damage to the eyes.


Although he played a lot of the "popular" music that was promoted by the communist regime, Toni Iordache remained known among aficionados especially for his work as a lăutar. His solos were very complex, but also clear and beautiful and his improvisations were full of imagination. He was not only a very virtuoso player (he was measured in Paris to be able to play 25 notes per second), [1] but also a very sophisticated one, with a high emphasis on touch, playing the slow pieces with great sensibility. He was able to play two melodic lines simultaneously at high tempos and knew how to use the full capacities of the cimbalom.

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  1. 1 2 "Remember Toni Iordache, zeul ţambalului". Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  2. "Autostrada Soarelui, blocată pe zeci de kilometri". 14 July 2011. Retrieved 11 April 2018.