The Duquesne University Tamburitzans is dedicated to preserving and perpetuating the cultural heritages of Eastern Europe and its neighbors through performance, while awarding scholarships to talented and deserving student performers.
When Dr. A. Lester Pierce met tamburitza musicians Matt L. Gouze, Frank Gouze, and Anthony Antoncic at St. Thomas College in St. Paul, Minnesota in the early 1930's, his intrigue with the folk instrument sparked an idea which has endured as one of the world's finest, longest-running live stage shows of its kind. Dr. Pierce was able to secure a position for himself at the college, and at the same time, negotiated work scholarships, and formed the "St. Thomas Tamburitza Trio."
In 1934, Dr. Pierce transferred to St. Edward's University in Austin Texas and expanded the group to seven members to form the "St. Edward's University Players," later to be called "American Tamburitza String Orchestra." He continued to be the Managing Director, while Matt Gouze assumed the position of Musical Director.
In 1937, after a two and a half-year residency, the young troupe headed east with their musical variety show, stopping in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Impressed with the cultural diversity of the city, Dr. Pierce accepted a faculty appointment, made a permanent home for the ensemble, and secured a work-scholarship agreement with Duquesne University. Shortly thereafter, this newly formed group, now called "Slavonic Tamburitza Orchestra," would be known as the "Duquesne University Tamburitzans." The word "Tamburitzans" was actually coined by a Duquesne University reporter sometime during the late 1940s.
From these simple beginnings, the Tamburitzans ensemble, named after the stringed folk instrument, the tambura or tamburitza, expanded its repertoire throughout the past seven decades to include a wide variety of folk dance and music representing Eastern Europe and many neighboring cultures. Seventy-five years, several international tours, hundreds of performers, and tens of thousands of audience members later, the Tamburitzans' show is an annual tradition for some and a delightful new surprise for others.
Year after year, generation after generation, The Tamburitzans dazzles audiences across the country with elaborate costumes and incredibly versatile musicians, singers, and dancers. The talented young performers are full-time students who have chosen to continue the Tamburitzans' legacy by bringing eastern European folklore to the modern stage.
Besides producing the longest-running live stage show in the country, the Tamburitzans organization is also a cultural and historical legacy at Duquesne University and in Pittsburgh. A part of Duquesne University's Division of Student Life, the Tamburitzans Department is housed in the Tamburitzans Administration Building (TAB). It is home to offices, rehearsal space, wardrobe department, a library, special collections and displays. Hundreds of books, costumes and instruments, as well as a significant music and film collection are housed in this building just a few blocks from Duquesne University's main campus.
Throughout our 75-year history, our mission and purpose has never changed. The Tamburitzans organization allows the traditions of the past to live on through music, dance, and many cultural resources. With the support of Duquesne University, and of our alumni and friends, we plan to remain both a tradition and a treasure not only in Pittsburgh but throughout the United States, Canada and Europe.