I consider it a masterpiece in the fullest sense of the word: one of those rare compositions which seems to reflect most strongly in itself the musical tendencies of a whole generation.”

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Roma people have emigrated to Canada and the U.S. since the 1870s. By the 1990s there were at least 80,000 Roma integrated into Canadian society. Canadian media and the public most recently became aware of the Roma when Czech-Romani refugees began to arrive in Canada in 1997. Unlike previous refugees, the Czech-Roma came fleeing persecution for being Roma in the Czech Republic.

The public has long been fascinated with the mythological, racial and stereotypical image of the Romani people created by Victorian writers and perpetuated by writers such as the noted Canadian author Robertson Davies; his novel The Rebel Angels depict Roma as magical, surrealistic, phantasmagorical, light-fingered characters likely to pick pockets of Canadians in general. Fortunately, perceptions have improved but the Roma, even in Canada, are sometimes viewed with suspicion and fear.
A Timeline of the Roma or Gypsies in Europe
1300 Romani groups begin to be enslaved in southeast Europe.
1445 Prince Vlad Dracul of Wallachia transports some 12,000 persons "who looked like Egyptians" from Bulgaria for slave labour.
15th Century (Verdi sets his opera Il trovatore in Spain, during this time of social unrest.)
1499 Medina del Campo in Spain orders Gitanos to find a trade and master and to cease traveling with other Gitanos. Punishment for failure to obey is 100 lashes and banishment. Repeat offences are punished by amputation of ears, 60 days in chains, and banishment. Third-time offenders become the slaves of those who capture them.
1505 Roma are recorded in Scotland, probably from Spain.
1560 The Archbishop of the Swedish Lutheran Church forbids priests to have any dealings with Roma. Their children are not to be christened and their dead not to be buried.
Early 17th century Spanish legislation becomes harsher, forbidding Gitanos from dealing in horses. The local populace is given permission to form armed groups to pursue Gitanos.
1745 Gitanos in Spain must settle in assigned places within two weeks. The punishment for failure is execution. "It is legal to fire upon them to take their life." The Churches no longer provide asylum. Armed troops are ordered to comb the countryside for Roma in hiding.
Early 1800s "Gypsy hunts" become a common and popular sport in Germany.
1830 German authorities remove Roma children from their families for fostering with non-Roma.
1885 Roma are excluded by United States immigration policy; many are returned to Europe.
1909 Recommendations from a "Gypsy policy conference" in Hungary include the confiscation of animals and carts, and permanent branding for identification.

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