top of page

About Roar Engelberg:

He started to play the pan flute at around the age of twelve, after hearing Gheorghe Zamfir playing a Romanian folk tune on the Norwegian radio.

He was deeply moved by the tune ( Cintecul lui Iancu Jianu ) that was very different from everything he had heard before. He just loved it and decided that he had to play this instrument.

He got hold of a very simple pan flute and started to learn on his own, listening to records, and folk music programs on Romanian radio.

He was very lucky when the Romanian folk music band of Benone Damian came on a tour to Norway two years later, giving concerts also in Roars neighborhood.

Young Roar Engelberg soloist wth brass band

Nicolae Pirvu was the pan flute player in the band and recognized Roars talent after a concert.

Roar got hold of a really good pan flute and got lessons from Nicolae Pirvu who came back to Norway frequently, on tours with Benone Damian`s folk music band.


Roar studied pan flute with Nicolae Pirvu in the Netherlands at the «Amsterdamse Hogeschool voor de Kunsten» in the years 1986-1989 and graduated with the highest degree, having among others, Damian Luca in the jury at his final graduation concert.

In 1984 he was awarded with the Norwegian «Grammy» for the first time.

His first solo album came on the market in 1985 containing a blend of different musical styles.

In 1987 he recorded his first album with classical music only, and has until this moment made eighteen

solo albums containing different musical styles.

Currently, he is working on a new album with classical music for pan flute and piano.


He has been touring in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, USA, Japan, India, Germany, Austria and other countries.


He has been awarded with many prices in Norway, and in 2007 he was awarded by the Romanian President with «Meritul cultural in grad de Cavaler.»

My own story:

"But why did you start playing panpipes, then?"
That is the question I very often get. Well, what can you respond to that? Why do people start playing guitar? Presumably for the same reason ..... Suddenly one day you hear music that fascinates you in a very special and strong way you have never experienced before.
For me, the turning point came when I heard the theme song to a recital series on radio (NRK) when I was ten to eleven years old. The series was called "Silas and the black mare" and the melody was a Romanian folk tune played by Gheorghe Zamfir on the panpipes.
Both the melody and sound of the instrument made an indelible impression, completely different from what I had heard until then in my life.

From then my mind was mostly occupied about this music and the panpipe sound, which was exotic, unrecognized and captivating. No one in the family or any of my friends could come  up with some additional information. But pretty soon the panpipe Music got a place in the Norwegian radio programs, and I realized later that it actually was, panpipes, I had heard.
Where could I get such a flaute? (It was not just to google it at that time, no one had their own PC in the late 70s.) I looked in the windows of the music trades in the small town where I lived and went even through to Oslo to look. But no one had anything like that.
Finally a local music retailer took pity over me, Odd Furnes in Hamar, and he found a directory where the panpipes could be ordered, from Latin America.
After much waiting, eight to nine months, the panpipes came in the mail. 
I must say I was quite disappointed.
The instrument was not at all comparable to the one I had seen on Gheorghe Zamfir´s album covers.

I started to play anyway, with great determination and youthful vitality. Something must have matured during the waiting time, I took the flaute virtually straight from the bag and played many of the tunes I had heard on the records, not perfect, but pretty close to the original.
I soon got hold of a new panpipe that was a little bigger, but still one of the simple type.

I imagine that I was about 13 years old when my mother took me to Romania on vacation, so I would get the chance to hear panpipe music and maybe buy a real instrument there. 
I did not hear that much panpipes, just a random panpipe player at a outdoor restaurant. Another night we were at “A Romanian evening” and heard another panpipe player, along with a top orchestra. But it was still most swimming and sunbathing. 
One evening I walked past a large outdoor scenes (in Mamaia). I heard folk music from inside and went in. There I saw a tremendous folk music show which lasted several hours; soloist after soloist, dancers and instrumentalists of top class. I was so knocked out of the impressions that I almost staggered out of there. In addition, the food, the aromas and the pretty girls...... I finally got with me a panpipes to take back home. But even if it was very nice to look at, it was still just a souvenir and not really something to play on. Another disappointment.

But then something happened that would change everything!
Suddenly one afternoon my grandfather said: there comes a Romanian orchestra to play at at folk high school. (Toneheim) "It looks like they have with them a panpiper too ....." They had. The orchestra was called Benone Damian after violinist and leader of the same name. The panpiper was named Nicolae Pîrvu and was / is one of the world's leading panpipers. This was during the communist period in Romania and it seemed therefore that the concerts at folk high schools were worth taking along.
I showed up at the concert and was knocked to the ground by a firework of virtuosity and interplay of another world - an experience of a lifetime!
I had brought with me my souvenir flute, just in case, but had absolutely no plans what so ever, to take it up from it´s hidden place on the inside of my sweater, especially after the overwhelming concert I had heard.

But when I would get my newly purchased disc with the orchestra signed, Mr. Benone saw that I had something on the inside of my sweater. He wondered what it was and nibbled the flute out, while he called the panpiper; “Hey Nico, look, there is one that has brought with him a panpipe here!” The musicians flocked around me, clearly surprised. (Little did I know that this was going to be a crucial point in my life.) I was quite shy initially, and now I was scarlet in the top and just wanted to sink through the floor and disappear. 
But Benone Damian and the other musicians urged me time and again to play something for them, grandfather and my mother too: "Yes, you may well play a tune for them." Finally I just had to pull myself together and play a song. I played the best I could, the melody that had inspired me to begin with panpipes.
The reaction came immediately, the musicians smiled and laughed and rolled theire eyes. Self I was completely exhausted. Nicolae Pîrvu and the others were impressed, they said, and wondered how on earth I, a little boy from Norway, had learned to play the panpipe, and a Romanian melody with authentic Romanian style! It was not easy to explain, but I had apparently made a certain impression on them.

A few days later I went to see another concert with the same musicians. I had already seen that they had a great pan flute for sale when they played at Toneheim, and had fantasized aloud about the home for several days.
Then came grandfather and bought the panpipes to me. "But then you really are going play," he said.
He did not know then that he would be bound to hear pan flute exercises
4-5 hours per day in the years to come .......

The pan flute were handmade by Nicolae Pîrvu. It was of course a great inspiration to finally get a quality instrument. I also got a quick introduction to playing technique, together with the flute. New supply of newly purchased discs I had too, and started at once to learn new songs.

Benone Damian's orchestra was constantly on tour, approx. once a year in Norway. I met up at concerts and got refills with lessons about pan flute playing.
Once I was even invited by Nicolae Pîrvu to be with them on the tour and shared the seat with him in the little mini bus they had. It was a wonderful experience for me as a young boy at the time, and a very generous gesture of the musicians, especially by Mr.. Nicolae! 
I was a kind of apprentice - very informative, and perhaps one of the few chances to learn pan flute playing for me.

Rumours of my panpipes game had already spread and I played constantly on graduations and local events. My teacher in middle school, Magne Rydland, introduced me to NRK where I got its own episode of the series "My instrument." (1979)
It happened some locally during this period, with concerts and assignment of local Culture Awards. The first award I received was "Hamar newspaper Culture Award" and a few years later, "Hedmark county Intermunicipal Culture Award." It was encouraging!

Middle school drew to a close and I was determined to study music.
But there was no high school with music in Hedmark county, where I lived at the time, so it ended up that I moved to in Oslo as a 16 year old to go on "Rud High School," with music. It was tough enough living alone there in a small flat.

It began in a slightly comical way, opening day when the students would meet their teacher in primary instrument. Hallvard Johnsen, who were the flute teacher, had been assigned to me as a student, but he understood rather little when I explained, "that it was not the usual flute I played, but pan flute."
Nevertheless, we went on and he provided me with literature and exercises designed for the transverse flute.
It was a big challenge. But it made me simultaneously one of the first to introduce the pan flute in classical music. (1980) Hallvard Johnsen and I got a real good relationship as time went on, and he wrote a solo piece to me, in his peculiar free-tonal style, when I was in the graduating class. I recorded it in NRK radio in 1983. (Pan, opus 93)

I did my first recordings still being at High School.
In 1982, I was in Stockholm as a guest soloist on the album "The second journey," by the Balkan band “Orient Expressen.” The following year the norwegian Balkan ensemble made​"Balkan samlet." We  received Grammy Award for 1984. (I was a regular member) That same year, I played in a TV program called “Saturday Direct” and was invited by Erik Hillestad to be on a disc at Kirkelig Kultuverksted with Sondre Bratland, ( a distinguished norwegian folk music singer) Also Iver Kleive, the famous organist and keyboard player contributed with his striking music arrangements - a very exciting and challenging project that would have major effects for me.

I began touring organized by the  “Rikskonsertene,” first school concerts with Stein-Erik Olsen on the classical guitar, then regular public concerts with Stein-Erik Olsen and Iver Kleive.
In 1985 I recorded my first solo album with Iver Kleive on organ and keyboards. The title was "Alveland."

Suddenly one day I received a call from the Netherlands. The pan flute player from Benone Damian's orchestra, had "defected" and settled in the Netherlands. There, he taught at the Conservatory in Hilversum. He invited me to come there to study with him.I said thank you and commuted between Drøbak, where I built a house, and Hilversum where I studied pan flute.
After three years I held a diploma concert and got the highest possible grade. Meanwhile the Conservatory had been placed under “Amsterdamse Hogeschool voor de Kunsten.”

That's how it all started.

So far I have recorded 16 solo / duo albums and taken part in a number of others, held thousands of concerts at home and abroad in most musical genres .........

I am excited about the the continuation!

bottom of page