Macedonian and Balkan Folk Music

Željo Destanovski

Željo Destanovski photoŽeljo Destanovski was born in 1942 into a Roma family of musicians in the eastern Macedonian village of Ratevo, located in the Maleševo region of the Republic of Macedonia. The music of the zurla (a boisterous wooden reed instrument) and tapan (a large drum) has been in Željo’s family for generations. His grandfather, Kantur, and his father, Rifat both played zurla, while other members of his family played tapan. Željo had a great passion and longing (“merak”) to learn the zurla, and eventually made his entire living playing for weddings, dances, and other occasions.

In 1963, the National Ensemble of Folk Music and Dance, Tanec, sent a special delegation to the village of Rusinovo to hear Željo play at a wedding, and they eventually invited him to join the ensemble. For many years, he was their lead zurla player.

Today, Željo continues to be in demand as a player and teacher. He recently recorded his first CD, which consists of original material from the region of Maleševo not previously available.