After the Roman withdrawal in AD 271, the population of Moldova was influenced by such cultures as the Byzantine Empire, the neighbouring Magyar and Slavic population, and later by the Ottoman Turks. A strong Western European influence in Moldovan literature and arts was prevalent in the 19th Century.
During the Soviet rule in Moldova, similarities with Romanian culture were hidden, exemplified in the Moldovan national costume, where the traditional Romanian moccasin was replaced by the Russian boot. A central part in traditional folk culture is played by the Mioritaor Mesterul Manole, an ancient folk ballad. In the rural areas of Moldova, the making of such folk crafts as weaving and ceramics continue to be practiced today. The traditions of folk culture are further promoted on a national level, presented by the Moldova’s Republic Dance Company (Joc) and the folk choir Doina.
The first Moldovan books were mid-17th-century religious texts. Distinguished artists in the development of Moldova include the scholar and prince Dimitrie Cantemir, the philologist and historian Bogdan Hasdeu, writer Ion Creanga and the poet Mihai Eminescu. There are many prominent writers today in Moldova, such as Pavel Botu, Nicolae Dabija and Ion Druta. In 1991, some 520 books were published in the country, of which 402 written in the Romanian language, 108 in Russian, 2 in Bulgarian and 8 in Gagauz.
Moldova boasted 12 professional theatres in the early 1990s. Most of the theatres today perform in the Romanian language. The Russian Drama Theatre A. Chekhov in Chisinau and the Russian Drama and Comedy Theatre in Tiraspol perform primarily in Russian, while the Licurici Republic Puppet Theatre in Chisinau performs both in Romanian and Russian. Music artists form a number of Real Art bands, such as the folk music orchestra Lautarii with director Nicolae Botgros and Ciocirlia led by Sergey Loonkevich. Ethnic minorities also make up folklore groups and amateur theatres throughout the country.
Moldovan music is also closely related to its neighbour, Romania, characterised by swift and complex rhythms, a trait shared with many Eastern European folk traditions. Hip Hop, Rock, Pop and other musical genres have their fans in Moldova as well. Among the internationally famous Pop stars include O’Zone, a Romanian and Moldovan band whose Dragostea din tei was a European hit in 2004. Vladimir Pgrebniuc is a well-known guitarist and song writer, while Natalia Barbu is popular in Germany, Ukraine and Romania. In the 1970s, the Flacai band was well known, whose hometown Cahul was turned into a significant music centre.
Moldovan folk culture flourished during the Soviet era, as it was strongly promoted by the government. However, many of the elements of its folk culture were altered to obscure the common history of Romania and Moldova. Today, the most significant element of Moldovan folk culture is the Miorita, an ancient ballad.
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