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Florin Niculescu (b. February 8, 1967 in Bucharest) is a Romanian violinist of Romani (Gypsy) ethnicity. He is considered one of the best jazz manouche violinist of our days, the successor of Stéphane Grappelli. He is noted for his impressive technique and virtuosity as well as for his musical sensitivity.
Niculescu was born into a family of educated lăutari. Everybody in his family was involved in music: his father and his uncle were violinists, his mother a pianist and his sister a cellist. He received his first violin lessons from his father, with whom he started to study seriously when he was 4–5 years old. At 6 he enrolled at the "Dinu Lipatti" Music School and then at the "George Enescu" Music High School, where he was a first prize student. Meanwhile he played with his father at weddings and celebrations, where he developed his improvisatory sense. When he was about 13 he heard for the first time violinist Stéphane Grappelli, who would become his idol and jazz music his main attraction.
In 1991 he left for Paris to fulfill his dream of meeting Stéphane Grappelli and making a name in jazz for himself. He got his first gig at a Russian cabaret. He also enrolled in the Conservatoire de Paris, although his jazz teacher told him from the first audition that he shouldn't waste his time there, instead he should be playing on stage. Meanwhile, he continued to play on various scenes with various musicians.
Niculescu finally met his idol, Stéphane Grappelli, in 1994. Grappelli was so impressed by him that he proposed him to record a disc together. Niculescu decline the offer believing that he didn't deserve the honor, yet. He hoped to receive some lessons from Stéphane Grappelli, but Grappelli told him that he has nothing to teach him as the Romani have a fantastic natural technique.
In 1995 he joined Romane's band and, in 2001, he was invited by Biréli Lagrène to join his "Gipsy Project", inspired by the Quintette du Hot Club de France. The couple Biréli Lagrène-Florin Niculescu succeeded the couple Django Reinhardt-Stéphane Grappelli.
Meanwhile he started to record musical albums under his name and to have numerous collaborations with other musicians: Jimmy Rosenberg, Babik Reinhardt (son of Django Reinhardt), Giani Lincan, Angelo Debarre, Hot Club de Norvège, Tchavolo Schmitt, Oscar Peterson, Jon Larsen, John McLaughlin, George Benson, Marcel Azzola, Regina Carter, Bucky Pizzarelli, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Wynton Marsalis, Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna. He also worked with pop musicians like: Charles Aznavour, Patricia Kaas, Patrick Bruel, Johnny Hallyday and Henri Salvador.
Niculescu has been called “successor to Grappelli” and “one of the greatest violinists ever”.