CHRONOLOGY: Principal dates and manufacturers
� Haeckel, in Vienna, created a mouth-blown instrument using the free vibrating reed.
� A German instrument maker by the name of Christian Friedrich Buschmann (1775-1822) put some expanding bellows onto a small keyboard, with free vibrating reeds inside the instrument itself. He named it the hand-aeoline, and helped spread its fame in 1828 by leaving Berlin and going on tour with it. However, see 1929 below.
� Cyrillus Damian, a Viennese instrument maker, received royal patronage for his invention (called the “Akkordeon”) and was the first to patent an instrument of that name. He is credited with the creation of the first “true” accordion. Damian’s design featured two to four bass keys that produced chords within a range of an octave.
� Sir Charles Wheatstone (1802-1875) was awarded British Patent No: 5803 for his concertina, on 19 June 1929.
� The first accordion learning textbook was written by A. Reisner and published in Paris. Later that same year, another tutorial volume, Pichenot’s Methode pour l’accordeon, was also published in Paris.
� An accordion tutorial, written by Adolph Muller, listed six types of accordion. All were of the diatonic variety, in the keys of C, D, or G.
� Heinrich Band (1821-1860), of Krefeld, Germany, invented the bandoneon when he was 29 years of age. He made many prototypes, which were sold in his shop in Krefeld. In the same year Alexandrre Debain finished his harmonium in Paris.
� The first chromatic accordion came into being, ordered by a musician named Walter. The instrument featured 12 bass buttons, arranged in such a manner that all 12 key signatures could be used.
� The accordion was introduced into Japan in 1850 by Sensuke Asahi, who donated one to the Shinto shrine, Miho Jinja in the sparsely populated Shimane prefecture, on the main island of Honshu.
� Busson, of Paris, patented the flutina polka, which had two rows of reeds.
� Busson, of Paris, created the first accordion to have a piano keyboard.
� Accordion manufacturing was established in Klingenthal, Germany.
� Leterne, of Paris, patented an instrument similar to that of Busson, but with the second row of reeds tuned slightly away from the first set. Thus was created what would appear to be the first musette tuned instrument.
� Originally a clockmaker in Trossingen, Germany, Matthias Hohner (1833-1902) began building accordions in his workshop. About 20 years after his death the business he founded (building accordions by hand) had turned into a mass production facility. Matthias Hohner was to the accordion what Henry Ford was to the motor car.
� By 1862 Klingenthal, Germany, had established more than 20 accordion factories.
� The first accordion factory in San Francisco was established.
� The first accordion to have a piano-style keyboard was produced in Vienna. The keys were much smaller than those of the piano, so performers felt they were liberated from the pipe organ, which the accordion was popularly considered to emulate.
� Mariano Dallape established an accordion factory in Stradella (near Ancona), Italy.
� A factory was established in Tula, Russia, to manufacture Bayan accordions and harmonicas.
� Settimio Soprani opened an accordion factory in Castelfidardo, Italy (imitating Pancotti).
� Dallape opened its accordion factory in the town of Stradella, Italy.
� The Schrammel accordion was created with 52 treble buttons arranged in three rows that produced the same notes, together with 12 basses that produced different notes on the press and draw of the bellows (diatonic). It was widely used at Viennese musical gatherings. Although its popularity declined because of its small range of notes and the difficulty with which it is mastered, it is still heard today.
� The Japanese started imported German diatonic accordions for the women of high society to play.
� Rosario Spadana, from Catania, in Sicily, registered a copyright for a free-bass instrument.
� Paul Guerrini and Rafaelo Carbonari founded the Guerrini Company, in San Francisco, USA.
� The Paolo Soprani factory produced a staggering 1,200 accordions each month (all made by hand).
� Germany had 35 accordion factories, and exported 35,200 accordions to France.
� Colombo Piatanesi arrived in America and established himself in San Francisco. He became one of the foremost accordion builders in the USA. The company, which took over the Guerrini factory (together with Pasquale Petromilli, became the Colombo Accordion Company.
� Augusto and Amedeo Iorio (originally pipe organ builders) established the Iorio Accordion Company factory in New York City.
� Export figures showed that 14,365 accordions were exported from manufacturers in Italy (according to official documents).
� The Italo-American Accordion manufacturing Company was established in Chicago, and jointly owned by Luigi Giulietti, Bramante Piatanesi, Oristo (Demo) Piatanesi, Finau Piatnesi and Roberto Rocianni.
� Shoufengqin jiaokehsu (The textbook for playing the accordion) was published in China.
� Biaggio Quattrociocche established the world’s first accordion music publishing business (Quatrociocche Editions), in Steubenville, Ohio.
� The Pagani brothers, together with Pietro Deiro (brother of Guido Deiro) established an accordion music publishing business in New York City. They approached Biaggio Quattrociocche and incorporated his music publications into their own.
� Dario Dari and Adriano Picchetti established an accordion factory in Castelfidardo, Italy. The factory’s name was later changed, to become the high-quality brand Victoria.
The Maugein Accordion company was founded by Jean Maugein in Tulle, France, and still exists, at Route de Brive, Tulle).
� Guerrini Accordions, from Castelfidardo, Italy, were sold in the USA by Arrigo Guerrini.
� A factory was established in Horovice (in the former Czechoslovakia) to manufacture accordions and harmonicas. After socialisation in 1948 the factory name changed to Delicia.
� Elio Borsini founded an accordion factory in Castelfidardo. His son, Vincenzo Borsini, was born in a flat above the factory. Vincenzo finished school in 1944 and studied the accordion with Giovanni Marcosignori, father of famed accordionist Gervasio Marcosignori.
� Nazzareno Piermaria opened a workshop in Paris.
� The Giulietti Accordion Company was founded by Luigi Giulietti, who had emigrated from Italy to the USA in 1914. He learned about making and tuning accordions when he worked in Italy for Soprani.
� Guerrini accordions (made in Castelfidardo) were sold in Cleveland, USA by Petromilli, Arrigo Guerrin’s brother-in-law.
� The Excelsior Accordion Company was established in New York City. The company further established a factory in Castelfidardo, Italy, in 1948, to cater to the growing demand for the instrument.
� What is considered the be the first original “contemporary” classical music of importance for the accordion was composed by Hugo Hermann under a commission from Ernst Hohner, of Germany. It was titled “Sieben neue Spielmusiken” op. 57/1 (Seven New Pieces).
� Guido Deiro established the first accordion teaching school in the USA. Called the Guido Deiro Accordion Conservatory, it had a storefront in San Francisco, California.
� Wall Street crashed, and so did the importation of accordions into the United States. In 1926, Italy exports 26,000 accordions. In 1932, that number dropped to 17,000.
� The Hohner Music School was established in Trossingen, Germany.
� The French film ‘Sous le foits de Paris’ was a huge success in Japan – so much so that it caused a demand for musette-tuned accordions. Tambo created an accordion with the name ‘Paris’, and other models with names such as ‘Bolero’ and ‘Scala’. These were replaced with Japanese names such as ‘Chyasahima’ (“divine island”) and ‘Daitoa’ (“great Asia”).
� Many instrument workshops were converted into propeller factories during the Second World War, and many of the pre-war instruments were destroyed by bombs.
� Tambo began manufacturing diatonic instruments, followed three years later by Yamaha.
� The Titano Accordion Company was founded in Minneapolis by Ed and Dorothy Traficante.
� Sonola was founded in 1935 in Castelfidardo (the brand was acquired by Guerrini in 1973).
� The British College of Accordionists was founded by Dr. Otto H. Meyer (managing director of Hohner Concessionaires Ltd., of London), and Albert Davison, MA, MusBac (Cantab), FRCO as a cultural and academic opportunity for accordionists to improve their abilities and musicianship through structured examinations.
� Angelo Manaresi, a member of parliament (a junior minister) and president of The Alpine Club, was elected president of a consortium of accordion and accessory manufacturers (set up under the instructions of the fascist regime of the time).
� Italy manufactured 51,000 accordions. But the effects of the Second World War were to have devastating effects on the accordion factories, their manufacturing capabilities, sales and exports.
� The American Accordionists Association (AAA) was founded. The AAA decreed that single bass notation (a single note indicating a specific chord) should be used in future sheet music for the accordion to circumvent the different inversions created by the various instrument manufacturers).
� Giacomo Antonio Busilacchio established a factory in Castelfidardo, Italy.
� Italy manufactured 10,077 accordions.
� Benito Mussolini ordered 1,000 accordions to be distributed to the various troops fighting in the Second World War.
� Italy manufactured only 500 accordions.
� VEB Klingenthaler Harmoniker Werke was established in Klingenthal, Germany, to manufacture accordions and harmonicas.
� Emil Baldoni, Aldo Mencaccini and Joseph Nalbone established the Ace Accordion Company in New York City.
� Pio Luchetti changes the name of his Art Novelty Company to the Pancordion Accordion Company.
� After the end of the Second World War, the accordion quickly regained its popularity. Between 1946 and 1948, 19 new accordion factories were opened in Italy.
� Guido Guidobaldi, Mario Scattolini, Luigi Scattolini, Giuseppe Salvatori, Pacioni Dante, Delfo Spadari and Guiliano Bontempi were seven partners who together former Zero-Sette (meaning seven who started from nothing). Julio Giulietti had his accordions made by Zero-Sette (Guiseppe Salvatori made the tone chambers). Elio Guidobaldi made the reeds, and later, so did Binci.
� The United Accordion Factories of Settimio Soprani, Scandalli, and Frontalini companies became Farfisa (Fabbriche Riunite de Fisarmoniche).
� Pigini established a factory in Castelfidardo, Italy (the company was registered in Ancona by Filippo Pigini on June 6th).
� Italy exported 57,523 accordions.
� Frank Gaviani became a partner of Theresa Costello in O. Pagani Music (publisher of accordion sheet music), based in New York City.
� The Hohner Music School in Trossingen, Germany, gained recognition, becoming an Official State Academy under the direction of Hugo Hermann (1896-1967).
� Pancordion (the company’s original name was the Art Novelty Company) was established in New York City by Ernest Deffner and Roberto Pancotti (formerly of family-owned Excelsior Accordions). Together they purchased the former Selmer musical instrument factory in Long Island City. The firm later moved to the former Wurlitzer showroom near Washington Square, in New York’s downtown Manhattan, where over 40 craftsmen worked to manufacture the specially designed instruments. I visited both factories during the 1960s.
� Julio Giulietti took over the company his father established in 1923.
� The Italo-American Accordion Company, Chicago, was sold to Joe Romagnoli.
� The Excel Accordion Company was founded by former employees of the Italo-American Accordion Company: Carl Gaspesetti, Mike Malatesta, and Italo (Tony) Serbellini. The company had to change its name to the Imperial Accordion Company because of a lawsuit by the well-established New York City-based Excelsior Accordions.
� Nick Sano, Joe Zon-Frilli, and Lou Iorio (Zon-Frilli’s brother-in-law) established the SANO Accordion Corporation in Irvington, New Jersey.
� Italy exported 192,058 accordions.
� In the USA, at the height of its popularity, some 250,000 accordions were sold.
� The last Colombo accordion was manufactured in America (San Francisco). Afterwards, all Colombo accordions were made in Castelfidardo, Italy.
� Although the Petosa Accordion Company was founded in Seattle by Carl Petosa. Carl and his son Joe moved to the company’s present location. They, together with Giuliano Bugari, hand-build the instruments to order.
� A consignment of 100s of accordions (ordered by the Ernest Deffner organisation in New York) was sadly lost when the ill-fated Italian ocean liner Andrea Doria (its maiden voyage was in 1953) was rammed by the Swedish America Line’s ocean liner Stockholm and sank on 25 July 1956, with the loss of 52 lives (51 on impact). The Stockholm survived, was repaired, and, after a number of owners and name changes, existed for many years as a cruise ship. Its name at present is Astoria, but is scheduled to be withdrawn from service finally in October 2020.
� The Borsini accordion factory exported 6,000 accordions.
� Between 1957 and 1965 the AAA commissioned 50 new works for the accordion.
� Giulio Giulietti introduced the Free-Bassetti System in the USA. His Giulietti Accordion Company was based in New York City, at 254 Park Avenue South. His tuner, Avalio Palladin, remained with the company until it folded in 1996.
� Ikutaro Kakehashi founded Ace Electronic Industries in Japan. He left in 1973 to found the Roland Corporation.
� Seventeen accordion factories (in Italy) closed – the result of a change in musical tastes, away from the accordion, and on to the electric guitar.
� Armando Bugari founded Bugari Acccordions in Castelfidardo, Italy.
� In the USA the Lesmann Accordion-Organ made its debut (the accordion was made by Morbidoni). The patent for the instrument was applied for in 1958 by Fred Searles and Ralph Studman, of Wisconsin, and became applicable in 1961. It turned into a successful venture and, shortly after, was distributed exclusively by Fender Sales, Inc. (Fender is the maker of the famous “Sreatocaster” guitar). Tommy Gumina (together with clarinettist Buddy de Franco) played one for a while (it can be heard on the Tommy Gumina-Buddy de Franco Quartet vinyl LP album “Kaleidoscope”), and was seen in advertisements for the instrument.
� Guerrini & Sons established an accordion factory in Castelfidardo, Italy.
� Ernest Deffner (manufacturer of Pancordion accordions) purchased the Titano Accordion Company from Ed Traficante, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and started the company to provide quality accordions for their chain of music schools in the region.
� Ubaldo Gabbanelli established a manufacturing facility in Castelfidardo, Italy.
� The Guerrini Company (established in San Francisco in 1903) folded.
� Ikutaro Kakehashi founded the Roland Corporation in Japan. He used the name Roland (he found it in a telephone directory) because he wanted to establish a name that was easy to market world-wide. The following year Roland introduced the world’s first touch-sensitive electric piano.
� The Sonolo brand was acquired by Guerrini and Sons, of Castelfidardo.
� Dino Bafetti established an accordion manufacturing facility in Castelfidardo, Italy.
The SANO Accordion Corporation (based in New Jersey) folded and closed its doors. The company made SANO and Zon-Frilli accordions, SANO amplifiers and microphone systems. Most of the remaining accordion inventory went to Charles Nunzio, of Basking Ridge (New Jersey).
� Beltuna Accordions was founded in Castelfidardo, Italy, by Arnaldo Mengascini and Elio Baldoni.
� A fire destroyed the Bell Accordion Company factory in Northvale, New Jersey.
� The Ace Accordion Company, of New York City (Brooklyn), closed its doors.
� Paolo Soprani and Scandalli merged to become one company (Menghini), marketed under the Farfisa brand name.
� Beltrami Accordions was founded in Castelfidardo, Italy (although Claudio Beltrami had been making accordions since 1977).
� There were an estimated 75,000 accordionists in the USA.
� Harley Jones became owner of Titano International and oversaw distribution of Titano brand instruments throughout Australia and New Zealand.
� Julio Giulietti died, and with him, the Giulietti Accordion Corporation (at the time, based in Westfield, Massachusettes). The instruments (the better ones) were made by the Zero-Sette factory in Italy, although the early models were made by Serenelli.
� Menghine merged with SEM to become SUONI.
� Roland introduced the first V-Accordion.
� Frank Busso, director of Busso Music, took over the distribution of Titano Accordions for North America. The distribution was moved from its long-time Mineola, Long Island (New York) base, to Alexandria, Virginia, USA.
� Zero-Sette merged with Armando Bugari.
� Iorio/Syn-Cordion (makers of Iorio brand accordions) closed its doors in May 2009.
� Italian bellows manufacturer Galassi developed a soft material that was used to manufacture (non-medical) face masks for people during the Covid-19 (coronavirus) crisis.
Note: Some of the material for this chronology was originally written by Douglas Ward in the article “The Accordion: Its History from Ancient China to Carnegie Hall” published in 1980 in the American publication Contemporary Keyboard.
Early varieties of accordion did not have shoulder straps that allow the player to hold the instrument close to the body. The first rudimentary instruments were played by using the thumb and little finger of the right hand under the treble keyboard. The thumb of the left hand was also placed under the instrument to steady it; thus only the second and fifth fingers were used to actuate the notes (buttons). Today’s accordionists generally use two straps to keep the accordion in place and under tight control; however, in Russia some accordionists prefer to use only one strap.