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Nomy Rosenberg

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Biography of Nomy Rosenberg

In that delightful book Django's Gypsies, by Ian Cruickshank, there is a photograph of two boys sitting by on the ground by a parked car. Each is holding a guitar that looks impossibly big for his small fingers, and they are both concentrating like mad. They are brothers, called Jimmy and Nomy Rosenberg, and if you unpick all the information contained in that casual snapshot it tells an extraordinary, indeed epic, story. It was taken at Samoissur-sur-seine, near Fountainebleau, at the annual gathering of European Gypsy musicians and their families. They meet there because it was the place to which the great Gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt retired, and where, in 1953, he died.

The boys are members of the Sinti people, a subgroup of the Roma, who, from the Middle Ages, gradually spread through western Europe. In France they are known as 'Manouches'.
In 1991, when the picture was taken, Jimmy was aged 12 and Nomy had just turned seven. It was taken in June, before the summer holidays, but the boys were not in school. The Sinti take a relaxed attitude in such matters, but that doesn't mean that the boys were idol. They were studying their craft, like their father and grandfather before them, and the whole, vast network of intertwined Sinti families who practice the art of music.

They learn by apprenticeship. It is their historic business.

Dave Gelly

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