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Laver Bariu is arguably the best known Albanian clarinetist of the last half century and an important figure in the development of urban folk music in the south-eastern Albanian region of Toskëria. Born in the southern town of Përmet, Laver was exposed to Përmeti folk music traditions from a young age via his father Bari Nurka, a well known local singer and llautë player. As a youngster he resorted to making his own instruments from any handy materials that he could find and his keenness and passion for music did not go unnoticed by his father. In 1935 the family moved to the eastern town of Korçë, at that time a vibrant and important centre of Tosk Albanian music and culture. Here he mingled with a far wider selection of singers and musicians and gained his first experience of playing in different groups and ensembles.Read More...
By the time his family returned to Përmet in 1944, Laver was ready to begin a full-time career as a musician and band leader. He played llautë with Vangjel Leskoviku's ensemble for a year or so before forming his own ensemble. Despite inevitable changes in personnel this ensemble remained active for the next six decades. Along with the Lela Family, Laver Bariu was largely responsible for promoting the Përmet style of urban folk music to the point where it has almost come to symbolise Tosk folk music in general.
He has been recorded several times by Radio Tirana and has also appeared on Albanian television. Foreign engagements were understandably restricted but following the collapse of Communism Laver Bariu was able to record a couple of CDs for labels based outside of Albania, one of which - Songs From the City of Roses - was widely available in the West, having been recorded in Përmet by Ben Mandelson in 1994.