Classical Spree 17-18

11.The King of Cimbalom

11.The King of Cimbalom


Piano Nobile

Experience the stunning virtuosity of Alexandru Sura on the cimbalom – the “gypsy piano” typical of Eastern European music – accompanied by brilliant performances on the violin, kobza, and double bass. An opportunity to explore this unique world music repertoire, with tunes played at breakneck speed alongside slow, poignant laments.


YOUTH RATE 17 years and under : $10 per concert


From $22*



Redirection to the Place des Arts

Alexandru Sura, cimbalom
Veronica Ungureanu, violin
Dumitru Besleaga, kobza (oud)
Roman Manolache, double bass

Programme Notes:

The cimbalom is a chordophone in the category of table zithers. The instrument displays a large, trapezoidal box strung with metal strings that are struck with mallets. The first image of a simple struck chordophone is depicted on an Assyrian relief from Kyindjuk, dating back to 3500 before the Common Era. V. Josef Schunda designed and built the first Hungarian concert cimbalom ­– also referred to as the Gypsy piano – in 1874. The concert cimbalom was disseminated to other parts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire such as Romania, the Ukraine, and Moldova.


Franz Liszt included a part for cimbalom in his Ungarischer Sturmmarsch; Zoltán Kodály, in his orchestral suite Háry János; Igor Stravinsky, in his ballet Renard; and Béla Bartók, in his Rhapsody no. 1 for Violin and Orchestra. Other, more recent works by composers such as Pierre Boulez, Peter Maxwell Davies, Peter Eötvös, and György Kurtág have made generous use of the cimbalom in their works.


Barbu Lăutaru (1780-1858) was a Romanian singer and cobzar (lutenist) of legendary fame, and the descendant of an ancient family of lăutari. While travelling through Moldova in the winter of 1847, Franz Liszt first had the opportunity of hearing and admiring his playing. The French weekly magazine La vie parisienne later reported in 1874 that Barbu Lăutaru was able to reproduce an improvisation by Franz Liszt at first hearing, on the occasion of another visit by the Hungarian composer to the mansion of Vasile Alecsandri at Mirceşti.


Toni Iordache (1942-1988) was a Romanian lăutar and one of the most famous cimbalom players in the world. He was nicknamed the “God of the Cimbalom” and “Paganini of the Cimbalom”.


Joseph Moskowitz (1879-1954) was a Romanian-born Jewish cimbalom player. When Moskowitz appeared at a cafe in New York City in 1908, The New York Times headlined the event: “Champion Cymbalist Is Playing Here Now”.

Alexandru Sura

Born in 1980 in Kishinev, Moldova, the talented Alexandru Sura began his piano studies as a child at the Scoala da arte V. Poleacov. Two years later, he was admitted to the cimbalom class at Ciprian Porumbescu High School. Since the age of 12, Alexandru has consistently been awarded top prizes in various national and international competitions. Since embarking on his solo career, he has given many concerts and recitals in venues that include the Philharmonic Hall in Moldova and Place des Arts, and has toured extensively in Canada, the U.S., Romania, Austria, Russia, Germany, Belarus, Israel, France, Spain, Switzerland, Poland, Estonia, Turkey, and Mexico. Recently, Alexandru played a series of concerts with the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto.

Roman Manolache

Born in Moldova to a family of musicians, Roman began his studies at the age of six at the Ciprian Porumbescu Music School and then at the Dinu Lipati School in Romania. After completing his studies at Kishinev Music Academy, his professional career began with the National Philharmonic Orchestra, and subsequently he served as First Double Bass of the National Chamber Orchestra, touring in Italy, France, Monaco, Russia, Greece, and other countries. Based in Montreal since 2008, Roman has had the opportunity to enrich his musical mastery as bassist of the New Generation Orchestra, founded by Yuli Turovsky.