Born: January 30, 1923
Stefan was born to Romani ("Gypsy") parents in the capital of Moldavia in eastern Romania. The family lived in a mixed neighborhood of Roma and Romanians. Stefan's father made a living playing guitar in local restaurants. As a child, Stefan learned to play the violin and he often performed with his father.
1933-39: When Stefan was a teenager and old enough to branch out on his own, he left his father and teamed up with another young man to perform in restaurants. They performed all over Moldavia. The outbreak of war in 1939 was bad for business and many restaurants closed down, so Stefan had to resort to farm work to support himself.
1940-44: In 1942 Iasi's Roma were rounded up by the Romanian police and sent eastward by cattle car. When they disembarked in Transnistria, they were marched to open fields and left to starve with inadequate rations. Urged by his wife, Stefan managed to run away. Of course, he took his violin. He hitched a ride on a freight train to Odessa and found work playing in a hotel, but all the time he couldn't stop feeling guilty for leaving his wife and sister. In 1944 he was arrested and inducted into the Romanian army.
After the war, Stefan was reunited with his wife in Iasi. He worked as a musician until his retirement in 1983.