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Accordion of 21-st century

Richard Galliano - French touch

Walshe Essential Guide to Accordion and Harmonica Events

«Harmonica forever!»

Modest Mussorgsky «Pictures at an Exhibition»

«Skomorokhi»: Music of the 20'th Century

Richard Galliano - 15 Titres Originaux

Pietro Frosini - Mariposita (Bolero)

Eugeny Derbenko - Cabman

Melodies Which Are Always With You

Concert musette for accordion

Richard Galliano quartet «New Musette»

Astor Piazzolla - Soundtracks

Boris Kovac and Ladaaba Orchestra «Ballads at the End of Time», «La Danza Apocalypsa Balcanica»

Yury Kazakov «The portrait of the great Bayanist»

A Gotan Project DJ set Espiracion

Accordion in Jazz

Astor Piazzolla - Concerto para Quinteto

Accordion in concert - Part I

Accordion Reader Trilogy

L. Desyatnikov - Tracing Astor

Russian music of the 19 - 20-th centuries

Igor Tsvetkov - Two Pieces for Russian Folk Orchestra

Popular Latin American tunes for chromatic or piano accordion

Terem-Quartet meets friends

Richard Galliano - Viaggio

Richard Galliano & Michel Portal – Concerts

Valery Kovtun - «Tango»

Richard Galliano – New York Tango

Friedrich Lips - Pictures at an Exhibition

Astor Piazzolla - Fugata

Dmitry Manchuk & Miroslav Leliukh - Musical Fantasy

Art Van Damme - Deep Purple

Richard Galliano - Fou Rire

George Gershwin - Rhapsody in Blue (for piano and accordion orchestra)

Andrew Petrov - Marathon in the Fall

Luciano Fancelli - Acquarelli Cubani

Happy Skvett - Kulturprisen

M. Kazhlaev - Scerzo

Michael van Delft - Angel Rocks a Stone Away

Jacques Reuaux, Claude Francois - My Way - Great Frank Sinatra song arranged for accordion orchestra - Parts

Richard Galliano - Tango pour Claude

''Resurrecion'' tango-quartet - Obsessed by the Sun

Richard Galliano - La Valse a Margaux

Bogdan Precz - Fusion

Jazz Accordion Book - Vol. I

Jazz Theory And Improvisation Studies for Accordion

Che, bandoneon - 10 essential tango arrangements - Vol. 1

Astor Piazzolla - Tangus Dei

Richard Galliano - Opale Concerto - Score

Accordion orchestra of 3-d municipal music school (Kishinev, Moldova)

Lithuanian Accordion Quintet "Concertino" (video live concert)

Pablo Ziegler - Bajo Cero

Pavel Smirov Orchestra - Accordion virtuosos from St. Petersburg

Albin Repnikov - Concerto ¹3 for accordion, chamber orchestra and percussions - Score

Pavel Smirov Orchestra - My Saint Petersburg

M. Blanter - In The Gardens

Astor Piazzolla - Yo Soy Maria

Lithuanian Accordion Quintet «Concertino» - Compositions from the repertoire of the ensemble - Vol. 2

B. Martjanov - Moldova Fantasy

«Milonga» Instrumental Trio – Compositions from the repertoire of the ensemble - Vol. 2

«Milonga» Instrumental Trio – Compositions from the repertoire of the ensemble - Vol. 1

«Milonga» Instrumental Trio – Compositions from the repertoire of the ensemble - Vol. 3

Jacques Reuaux, Claude Francois - My Way - Great Frank Sinatra song arranged for accordion orchestra - Score

Anatoly Lyadov - Musical Snuffbox

Yu. Peshkov - Black Eyes - Russian romance arranged as a concert piece

Charlie Shavers - Breeze in a Waste

Christine Boll – Partita Piccola

Teddy Randazzo, Bobby Weinstein - Going Out of My Head - Great Frank Sinatra song arranged for accordion orchestra - Score and Parts

Victor Vlasov - Bossa Nova

Pietro Frosini - Carnival of Venice

Victor Vlasov - I Like this Rhythm

Thomas Fundora & Morris Albert - Feelings

Mikis Theodorakis - Quarter of Angels

George Hammel - Pantoufle de Vair (concert polka for accordion)

Volodymyr Zubytsky - Omaggio ad Astor Piazzolla

In the Footlights

The Beatles Potpourri

Jacob Gade - Tango Jalousie

Lasse Pihlajamaa - Harmonikkasävellyksiä

Eddy Flecijn – Capriccio

Pascual Marquina - Spanish Gipsy Dance

Popular Waltzes

Libertango tango hits

Moon Serenade

History of Musicals

Astor Piazzolla – 10 tangos

From Bach till Offenbach

Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart - Blue Moon

Beny Rehmann - Schiffsfeger-Polka

Francisco Canaro - Tango

Gerhard Winkler - Toulouse

Albert Vossen - Merry-go-round

Gerhard Winkler - Serenade Napolitano

Les Rid - The Last Waltz

Yann Tiersen - Le Moulin

Yann Tiersen - Naomi

Bert Kaempfert - Strangers in The Night

Luiz Bonfa - Manha de Carnival

Cajun of Luisiana State (for banjo and accordions)

George Boulanger - Da Capo

Eugene Derbenko - Rythm of Time

I. Panitski - Snowball Tree

A. Murena and J. Colombo - Indifference

Hubert Giraud - Sous le Ciel de Paris

Toto Cutugno - Soli

Fermo Marchetti - Fascination

Victor Vlasov - Boogie-Woogie

J McHugh - Black Birds (Black spiritual arranged for accordion)

S. Scott - Jungle

Tikhon Khrennikov - Moscow Windows (jazz song arranged for accordion duo)

Paul Norrback - Happy Moments

Charlie Chaplin - Limelight (waltz arranged for accordion)

Victor Vlasov - Silent Films

Victor Vlasov - Good Afternoon

Victor Vlasov - Cartoon

20 Tiny Fingers - English folk song

A. Joys - Autumn Dream

Jazz-Legato - Lerov Andersson (for accordion duo)

Vladimir Popolzin - In The Saloon

S. Scott - Ballade

Victor Vlasov – Jazz Miniatures

Victor Vlasov - Disco (from Jazz Miniatures Book)

Victor Vlasov - Let us Swing (from Jazz Miniatures Book)

Victor Vlasov - Siamese (from Jazz Miniatures Book)

Victor Vlasov - This Rythm (from Jazz Miniatures Book)

Victor Vlasov - Step (from Jazz Miniatures Book)

Unto Jutila - French Visit

Renzo Ruggieri - Carnevale

Jimmy Giordanengo - La Huette

Albert Vossen - Fliegende Blatter

Vittorio Monti - Czardas

Victor Vlasov - Mood (for solo accordion)

Victor Vlasov - Syncopes

Unto Jutila - Samba

Pietro Frosini - Jolly Caballero

Karl Noack - Parade of Dwarves (for ensemble or orchestra)

Valery Kovtun - Brilliant Waltz (for solo accordion)

Pintin Castellanos - La Punalada

Finish Polka

Anne Dudley - Jeeves and Wooster

Astor Piazzolla - Four Seasons in Buenos Aires - Score

Astor Piazzolla - Four Seasons in Buenos Aires - Parts

Luciano Fancelli - 10 km. al Finestrino

Luciano Fancelli - Pupazzetti

Georgy Mushel - Toccata

Albin Repnikov - Capriccio

Paolo Pizzigoni - Light and Shadow

Grigoras Dinicu - Hora Stacatto

Eduardo di Capua - O Sole Mio!

Ernesto Lecuona - Malaguena from «Andalucia» Suite

Andre Astier - Grande Valse De Concert

Andre Astier - Divertissement

Andre Astier - Fantaisie En Mi Mineur

Andre Astier, Marcel Azzola - Systeme «A»

Andre Astier, Maurice Larcange - Accordeon Steeple

Andre Astier, Yvette Horner - Polka Satellite

Volodymyr Zubytsky - Ti Amo, Pesaro

Joaquin Rodrigo - Concierto de Aranjuez, Adagio

Antonio Vivaldi - Concerto f-moll from The Four Seasons

Arnstein Johansen - Cornelli (polka)

Medard Ferrero - Averse

Polka Favorites

Latin Favorites

Joey Miskulin - Accordion Styles and Techniques (DVD)

Paris Musette - Freddy Balta and his Accordion

Teach Yourself To Play Accordion

Waltz Favorites

Metodo Per Fisarmonica (Accordion)

Latin American Dances

Richard Galliano - Opale Concerto - Parts

Vladimir Chernikov - Lonely Harmonica - Yablochko

Niccolo Paganini - Caprice No. 24 in A minor

Andrew Lloyd Webber - Memory

John A. Dallas - Helen Waltz

Maurice Larcange & Michel Mercier - Javaccordeon

Franck Angelis - Valse du Cloun

Franck Angelis - Impasse

Ole Schmidt - Toccata no. 1

Astor Piazzolla - Contrabajissimo - Score

Yann Tiersen - La Noyee

Jack Fina - Bumblebee Boogie

Vl. Zolotarev - Conteplating The Dionisian Frescoes of St. Ferapontov Monastery

Heitor Villa-Lobos - Dance of The White Indian

Filippo Marino - Cristina

Tony Murena & Louis Peguri - Joyeux Vagabond

Pietro Frosini - Spic and Span

Hans Brehme - Divertimento in F

Pietro Frosini - Accordion Jitters

Astor Piazzolla - Concerto Aconcagua for bandoneon, chamber orchestra and percussions - Score

Oscar Peterson - Laurentide Waltz (from The “Canadiana” suite)

Con Conrad & Herb Magidson - Midnight in Paris (bolero)

Samuel Barber - Adagio from String Quartet No. 1

Pietro Frosini - Love Smiles

Albin Repnikov - Concertino

Victor Vlasov - The Fest In Moldavanka

Art Van Damme - Boogie-Woogie

Albert Vossen - Brusseles Laces

Yann Tiersen - Les Quatre Pieces

Frank Marocco - Appassionato

Che, bandoneon - 10 essential tango arrangements - Vol. 2

Astor Piazzolla - Cite Tango

Astor Piazzolla - Meditango

Astor Piazzolla - Un dia de paz

Astor Piazzolla - Libertango

Astor Piazzolla - Tres Tangos

Astor Piazzolla - Ave Maria

Astor Piazzolla - Concierto de Nacar - Score

Astor Piazzolla - Tangata del Alba

Accordion in Concert - Part II

Astor Piazzolla - Double Concerto - Score

Argentinian Tango and Folk Tunes for Accordion: 36 Traditional Pieces

Jean Francaix - Concerto for accordion and orchestra

Isang Yun - Concertino for accordion and string quartet

Darius Milhaud - Suite Anglaise

Astor Piazzolla - Adios Nonino for accordion orchestra and piano

Klezmer and Sephardic Tunes

Astor Piazzolla - Concerto Aconcagua for bandoneon, chamber orchestra and percussions - Parts

Astor Piazzolla - Cuatro Estaciones Portenas - Score

Astor Piazzolla - Cuatro Estaciones Portenas - Parts

Carlos Gardel - Soledad y Volver - Score

Carlos Gardel - Soledad y Volver - Parts

Angel Villoldo - El Choclo

Mariano Mores - Tanguera

Julian Plaza - Nocturna

Hector Stamponi - Un Momento

Julio Pane - Un vals para Martita

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Fisarmonica is First Again!
Mar., 5, 2007

Fisarmonica with Gary Blair

Fisarmonica - The UKAO owned greyhound has won her 12th race yesterday at The Oxford Stadium.

Monica (as she is affectionately known in the kennels) managed to squeeze past the other 5 greyhounds in presto time last night (3rd march) in a 6 bend 595metres race at the posh Oxford Greyhound Stadium ,she won impressively by over 3 lengths in a fast time of  38.00 seconds.

Well done Fisarmonica!

Stockport A/C News - March/April 2007
Mar., 5, 2007
Rob Howard
On Wednesday, March 14th, SAC sees the welcome return of Bert Santilly as our Club Night guest artiste.  Bert is a most accomplished and versatile accordionist, with a wide repertoire, and known to many of you as a workshop leader at the Caister and Pakefield festivals.  Admission is £4.   As always, we begin promptly at 8pm, and all are welcome, including those who would like to play a tune or two.  SAC is now based at Woodley Methodist Church, Chapel Street/Hyde Road, Woodley, Stockport, Cheshire SK6 1BL.

Early in February we received the terrible news that Anne Kearney had died, after a battle with cancer over the last three years. Anne did not recover from the anaesthetic after an operation for liver cancer.  Anne, originally from Ireland, travelled weekly for several years to practices all the way from her home in North Wales, and was a member of the SAC Orchestra, the Weaver Valley Accordion Band and Chester AC.  She will be missed.  R.I.P. 

Soon after learning about Anne came the very sad news that Pete Fitzpatrick, who attended many of our Club Night concerts, had also passed away, aged 72. Pete Fitz, as he was known, was a former All Britain Irish traditional champion on both piano accordion and piano, and had also played the organ in clubs, backing singers.  Pete was a legend on the Manchester Irish scene, and was very well liked by all who knew him.  He attended many of our Club Night concerts, and once played a short spot for us.  R.I.P.

We have been without our MDs during February, with Peter Whiteley visiting relatives in Australia and Brian Jenkins laid low through the prolonged effects of a really bad cold. Chris Green and Derek Pritchard ‘drew the short straw’ as stand in leaders.  Conducting is most definitely not a soft option, and the rest of us are grateful for their efforts at keeping us in order and leading us.

SAC Vice President John Nixon is playing concertina with a small jazz combo at a pub called The Horseshoe, on Thursday March 1st, 9 till 11pm approx. Admission is free and the Horseshoe (a CAMRA approved pub for its beer) is located in the small village of Lawton Heath End, Staffordshire ST7 3RA - about 6-miles SW of Congleton.

SAC members Rachel White and Sarah Hodge entered the NAO North Central Area Accordion Festival in Saltaire, near Bradford, on February 24th. Rachel came first in the Senior Polka, and second in the Advanced Solo Test Piece + Own Choice sections. Rachel and Sarah came second in the Open Premier Duet section. Well done, girls, and good luck at the forthcoming UK Championships, which take place at The Spa, Scarborough, over the Bank Holiday weekend, May 4th/6th. Rachel and Sarah have entered a duet section, and Rachel is contesting the NAO Advanced Championship title. 

Our next Club Night concert with Bert Santilly is on the horizon, so I hope you can make it for yet another night of great music.

Rob Howard        (0161) 480 8858        email:  This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it "> This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it  

Emily Smith Band - March gigs & news!
Mar., 5, 2007

Emily Smith
Hello folks

I hope you are all well and cheery. Sorry I have been out of touch since the New Year. January was a busy time as always for folkies here in Scotland with Celtic Connections festival taking place in Glasgow.

This year I was involved in 2 shows – one being a concert of Robert Tannahill songs and the other with my fellow songwriters from the Burnsong Song House (the songwriting project I took part in back in Nov 2005.) February being a short month came and went in a flash, I spent most of it on tour....   Emily Smith


As mentioned above I was out on tour with the Burnsong songwriters for much of January. We did a Tune up Tour around Scotland. It was a fantastic time for us to all get together again and resurrect the songs we wrote together in 2005. Our Glasgow show in the City Halls was packed and received top class reviews in the Scotsman and The Herald.
Sell Out Germany Tour
During Celtic Connections I recorded a song for BBC4 which will be shown on one of 2 programmes they have made about the festival. I sang ‘May Colven’, a traditional ballad which will be on my new album and performing with me were regular band mate Jamie McClennan and new guy Ross Milligan on guitar.
The programme will be aired on Saturday 17th March at 9pm.

Farewell to Steve Byrne....and Hello to New Guitarist Ross Milligan
PEEBLES, Scotland
7.30pm, Tickets £11/£9
Box office: 01721 725777
http://www.eastgatearts.com/

Friday 9th March
Rothes Halls
300 Sauchiehall Street, GLASGOW, Scotland
"Two in Accord" - Saturday 10th March
Mar., 5, 2007
Saturday 10th March from 7.30
The Windmill Inn, 42, Mill Lane, Rustington.Littlehampton, West Sussex - BN16 3JN
Tel: 01903 785883 
Dear UKAO
 
I just thought that I would let you know, hoping you will be interested in our gig next Saturday 10th Marchfrom 7.30pm at a very nice large Pub/Restaurant in West Sussex.
 
The Windmill Inn, 42, Mill Lane, Rustington.Littlehampton, West Sussex - BN16 3JN
 Tel: 01903 785883  
 
It is located just near the small bridge off the A27 opposite the Ham Manor Golf Course turning off towards Rustington and is on the left only 2 mins from the main road. 
 
I have heard the food is very good there and the music will be good too!!  
 
It is to be called a 'London Night' so we shall be playing a lot of songs in between some good lively accordion music, including a bit of Austrian and Latin.
 
We look forward to seeing you there!
 
Best wishes
 
Shirley Harvey and Bill Perkins
 "Two in Accord"
 
 
 
 
Finnish Accordion Cruise Attracts 2,700 Participants - Finland
Mar., 3, 2007
The annual Sata-Häme Soi and Finnish Accordion Association cruise was sold out to capacity as 2,700 people travelled aboard the Silja Europa Cruise liner from Turku, Finland to Sweden and back. Director of the Sata-Häme Soi Festival Sirpa Sippola and Public Relations Manager Minna Plihtari opened the cruise by hosting a VIP reception with guests including the Mayor of Ikaalinen, Tero Nissinen, Italian accordion artiste Mirco Patarini (left above), CIA President Kevin Friedrich (middle above) with Kimmo Mattila (right above).

Non-stop activities were offered including accordion music in many styles, a variety concert featuring the music of Finnish composer Paul Norrback (painting right), dancing, instrument displays, music and recordings as well as the highly contested semi-finals for both the Silver and Golden Accordion competitions.

Pictured left are Finnish Accordion Association (SHL) President and newly elected CIA General Secretary Kimmo Mattila and SHL Vice President Seppo Lankinen performing in concert.

The jury comprising Elina Leskelä, Elias Ukkonen, Anne-Mari Kunelius, Markku Lindeman and Mirco Patarini selected the following finalists to appear this summer on a live national TV Broadcast where the jury and television viewers combined choose the winner.

The finalists for the Golden Accordion (Senior) include: Sami Hopponen (Polvijärvi), Henna Tahvanainen (Tohmajärvi), Mari Laskujärvi (Vilppula), Pasi Raukola (Ulvila), Henna-Maija Kuki (Nivala) and Veli-Matti Leppänen (Ulvila).

The finalists for the Silver Accordion (children up to 10 years old) are: Mikko Suihkola (Sievi), Essi Elomäki (Pori), Lauri Tuomisto (Jurva), Minna Ristamäki (Ylöjärvi), Menni Leinonen (Lappeenranta), Eemeli Morander (Somerniemi) and Johan-Antti Kivilahti (Haapajärvi).

The annual Sata-Häme Soi Accordion Festival, expected to attract nearly 40,000 people, will take place from June 25th to July 1st 2007, in Ikaalinen, Finland.
  
Tatiana Lanchtchikova at the Auckland Philharmonic - New Zealand
Contributed by Heather Masefield

On Thursday February 22nd there was a concert by the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra at the Auckland Town Hall. 

After the concert, the audience were invited into the bar where resident orchestra accordionist Tatiana Lanchtchikova was drawing in the crowds by playing Tangos and Hungarian music with a violinist from the orchestra.  The conductor Eckehard Stier, from Germany, then joined in playing jazz piano.

The audience adored the transformation from serious concert music to fun folk and entertainment music to finish off a great night.
Martin, Richard: The Harmonica: AMouthful of Music
Mar., 1, 2007
THE HARMONICA: A MOUTHFUL OF MUSICRichard Martin (Reprinted with permission from The Harmonica Educator) This article is from a research paper that I wrote about the harmonica. Actually, I wrote the paper for a college English class in 1988. Since I had access to a lot of resource material about the history and origin of the harmonica, I was able to write the research paper without too much trouble. I have updated the original research paper with the addition of new information and pictures. I think harmonicists, who desire to know more about the history and origin of the harmonica, will find this article interesting.The Harmonica The harmonica is like a "portable pocket piano" capable of producing a mouthful of music for millions of people around the world (Gaskill 191). The harmonica is really a Western mouth organ, which has grown in popularity since its invention, in 1821, by Christian Friedrich Ludwig Buschmann. With the advent and perfection of the chromatic harmonica by the Hohner Company, harmonica enthusiasts all over the world are now able to play a wide range of music on this instrument. Many "harmonica aficionados" may not be aware that the Eastern mouth organ is "the immediate ancestor not only of the Western mouth organ but of all European free-reed instruments." (Marcuse 731).Basic Classification of Instruments Eastern and Western mouth organs are classified as free-reed instruments. According to the Encyclopedia of Musical Instruments of the World (p.14), free-reed instruments are part of a family tree of musical instruments that are classified under the general heading of Aerophone Instruments.Aerophones Aerophones are constructed so that the vibration of air in the instrument will produce a musical tone. Family tree members include instruments with blow holes (e.g., panpipes), whistle mouthpieces (e.g., recorders), single reeds (e.g., clarinets), double reeds (e.g., oboes), cup mouthpieces (e.g., trumpets), free aerophones (e.g., humming tops), and free-reeds (e.g., Eastern and Western mouth organs, concertinas/accordions, and harmoniums). (See Figure 1)Eastern Mouth Organs Eastern and Western mouth organs have very different constructions. Modern Eastern mouth organs are constructed with 17 different sized bamboo pipes arranged in a semi-circle, and inserted into a circular shaped wind chamber within a metal bowl. Only 14 pipes can produce musical tones. The other 3 pipes are mute. Each one of the 14 pipes has a single air stop hole and a copper reed plate mounted near its end. About one inch from the end, one half of the pipe wall is cut away. The other half is tapered where a copper reed plate is mounted. Prior to mounting the reed plate, a short rectangular cut is made into the plate in the shape of a tongue. To produce a musical tone, a player holds the instrument with both hands, and covers some of the air stops while blowing or drawing air through the mouthpiece. Air passing through the mouthpiece into the wind chamber (blow and draw) causes the metal tongue to vibrate like a free-reed. Air vibrating over each free-reed produces a different musical tone. (See Figures 1 & 2)Western Mouth Organs Western mouth organs are constructed in the shape of a wooden or plastic box cut with different sizes of channel openings. The box is called the comb. Metal reed plates (top and bottom) are attached to the comb. Each reed plate is cut with rectangular reed slots of different sizes. Free-swinging brass reeds are mounted to cover each corresponding reed slot on the plate. Depending on the mouth organ model, reed plates may contain from 8 reeds (e.g., the Little Lady harmonica) to as many as 384 reeds (e.g., the 48 chord harmonica). The top and bottom reed plates have metal covers attached to them. One side of each cover has an open space between the reed plate and the metal cover. This side is towards the back of the instrument. The other side of each cover is closed and touching the reed plate. This side is towards the mouthpiece. The mouthpiece may have as few as 4 single hole openings (Little Lady harmonica), or as many as 96 double hole openings (48 chord harmonica). Air blown or drawn, through a number of hole openings in the mouthpiece, causes free-reeds to vibrate, and produces different musical tones. (See Figure 1)History of the Western Mouth Organ The history of the Western mouth organ can be traced back to the Eastern mouth organ called the Sheng. This instrument was invented in China. There was a primitive mouth organ in use among the Chingmiau tribes (non-Chinese people related to the Thai-speaking people of Haenan) near Anshuenn, Gueyjou Province, China (date unknown) This mouth organ resembled the Sheng, and it had 6 bamboo tubes of various sizes. (See Figure 2[b] & Figure 3 [item 2]) The bamboo tubes were held in place with strands of bamboo. The tubes were then fitted into and around a wooden wind chest with a mouthpiece (Wallesz 136). The copper reeds were tuned, with blobs of wax, to the scale D F G A C D. Figure 2 Diag A & B show how the oriental mouth organ works. The more sophisticated mouth organ is the Sheng (sometimes spelled Cheng) (Ward 863). The word Sheng means "sublime voice" (Gaskill 192). This mouth-organ was invented by the female sovereign Nyn-Kwa in 3000 BC (Figures 3[3] & 4) "The Sheng was formed to imitate the shape of the Phoenix bird and it is probably under the influence of this tradition that it is being used to this day in China in funeral processions" (Buchner 16) Modern Shengs are made of 17 bamboo pipes of different sizes. There are 14 pairs of various sized pipes, with 3 pipes of the same length. 14 pipes are fitted with free-swinging metal reeds, and into each pipe is cut a round air stop hole. Three pipes are mute. All 17 pipes are placed in a half circle configuration, and seated into a circular wind chamber of a metal bowl with a long metal mouthpiece. The pipes are secured in place with a strip of bamboo. A player holds the instrument upright (or at a slight right angle) in both hands while blowing or drawing air through the mouthpiece. An air stop hole must be blocked off to allow air to pass over a particular reed to produce a particular musical tone. Single tones, or a combination of tones (chords), can be heard by blocking off different holes with the fingers and thumbs of both hands. (Figure 4) The Sheng's 14 reeds may be tuned to a number of different pitches of the primitive pentatonic scale (e.g., G" F#" E" C#" C" B' E" G" C#" B" A" D"' D" A') (Sadie 278). The marks above the notes represent pitches of the pitch spectrum above middle C on the piano. Therefore, the tone B' sounds one octave above middle C, the tone C#" sounds two octaves above middle C, and the tone D"' sounds 3 octaves above middle C (Christ 15).Eastern Mouth Organs Today Today, Eastern mouth organs can be seen and heard in many oriental countries. The Encyclopedia of Musical Instruments of the World (p.78) indicates that, in addition to China, different sizes and shapes of mouth organs are played, in such countries as Borneo (Figure 2[a] & Figure 3[1]), with bamboo pipes placed into a gourd wind chamber. In Laos, (Figure 2[c]) another primitive type has up to 16 bamboo pipes seated into a wood or ivory wind chamber. The instrument is made into three sizes with the pipes of the largest size reaching 10 feet in length. Japan's mouth organ, called the shô, is constructed with bamboo and wood. It is similar in shape, but larger than the Chinese Sheng. In the past, the influence of the Chinese Sheng had "radiated to Korea and Japan, through all of Indochina and Bengal over to Persia." (Marcuse 734). As a result of this influence, travelers brought oriental mouth organs to Europe as early as the 17th and 18th centuries. In France, Louis XIV heard Persian mouth organs played along with other instruments in his court in 1648 (p.734). According to Brad Harris, Harmonica Historian, some say that the instrument described "could scarcely be anything other than" a mouth organ. Others say that this is a misunderstanding, and that the Persian organ was something similar to a mouth bow, jaw harp, or panpipe. John Wilde, the inventor of the nail violin, learned to play a Sheng during his stay in Saint Petersburg, Russia from 1741 to 1764 (p.734). (Figure 5)
















Early Experimentation With The Free-Reed Harmonica Historian, Brad Harris, says that although the mouth organ was present in the west by the middle of the eighteenth century, experimentation with the free-reed did not begin until a Sheng was sent to Paris by a Jesuit missionary in China, Father Amiot. The Sheng arrived in Paris in 1777, and apparently was then sent to Saint Petersburg. This Sheng was studied by a Danish physicist named Kratzenstein, and he suggested to an organ builder that the free-reed be used in the development of a new organ stop. As a result, experiments were undertaken on the use of free-reed stops in piano-organs and pipe organs. Unfortunately, the use of free-reed stops in keyboard instruments was not popular with the public, and as a result, most pipe-organ builders discontinued the use of free-reed stops in their keyboard instruments (Marcuse 734)Incorporating Free-Reeds in a Western Mouth Organ The idea of incorporating free-reeds in a Western mouth organs not realized until the 19th century. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians credits a number of Europeans with the development or manufacture of the harmonica. In 1821, the first harmonica was created by a German clock maker, Christian Friedrich Ludwig Buschmann (M. Hohner 1975, Sadie 163). Buschmann's invention (called aura) was probably a metal plate with 15 reed slots covered with corresponding free-reeds. Primarily, he designed the aura as a tuning instrument rather than a musical instrument (Sadie 163). In 1825, Fr. Hotz began producing mouth organs in his factory in Knittlingen, Germany (Scholes 864). Another German, Christian Messner, acquired some of Christian Buschmann's auras. He set up shop in his clock-making firm in Trossingen, in 1827, and began manufacturing instruments that were similar to Buschmann's "aura." Messner called these instruments "mundaeolines." (Scholes 864, Sadie 164). Two years later, an Englishman, Sir Charles Wheatstone, patented a type of mouth organ. He constructed his instrument "using brass reeds controlled by a small button keyboard, which he called a 'symphonium'." (Sadie 164). Some authorities have called Wheatstone's construction an Aeolina (Gilmore 32), or the mund-aeoline (M. Hohner 1975). (Figure 6) During the year 1829, J. W. Glier began manufacturing mouth organs at his factory in Klingenthal, Germany (Sadie 164). In 1855, the German, Christian Weiss, started producing mouth organs (164). Finally, in 1857, a firm in Trossingen Germany began mass-producing harmonicas for the public. At the head of this company was the famous Matthias Hohner (p.164). Today, the manufacture of harmonicas in Europe is in the sole domain of the Hohner harmonica factory at Trossingen. Apparently, the manufacturing of mouth organs by other European firms has been absorbed into the Hohner organization (Ward 864).The Harmonica Has Many Names The harmonica, or mouth organ, has many names in many different languages. It is referred to in German as "Mundharmonika," in French as "harmonica á bouche," in Italian as "armonica a bocca," and in Spanish as "armonica." (Ward 440, Apel 366). In the English language it is referred to as "harmonica, mouth organ, French harp, and harp." (Licht 9). Brad Harris, Harmonica Historian, says the name originally goes back to the accordion. In 1829, in Vienna, Cyrill Demian was granted a "privilege" to make the "akkordion," meaning he had exclusive rights to the instrument. Several people copied his accordion anyway, but because of Deminan's privilege, they had to use a different name. They chose to call it the "handharmonika." Because of the close relationship between the two instruments, the mouth organ began to be called the "mundharmonika." As it common in the English speaking world, the spelling was anglicized. As "akkordion" became "accordion," so "harmonika" became "harmonica."When Hohner First Began Producing Harmonicas When Hohner first began producing harmonicas, in 1857, his factory produced a mere 650 harmonicas. In 1879, he increased his production to over 700,000 harmonicas. At the turn of the century, the company was producing five million harmonicas annually (Hohner 1975). Since that time, the Hohner company has expanded their production to over 50 diatonic and chromatic harmonica models, and since 1979, "some 40 million people in the U.S. play the harmonica, as well as nearly 5 million in Canada." (Hohner, 1975, 1979)Diatonic and Chromatic Harmonicas Diatonic and chromatic harmonicas are constructed with different tonal arrangements. Diatonic harmonicas are tuned with only the natural tones (e.g., C, D, E, F, and etc.), and with no half steps in between each tone (e.g., C, C#, D, D#, E, F, and etc.). The natural tones of the diatonic harmonica are like those played on the white keys of the piano. The half step tones (black keys) are not used in the tuning of diatonic harmonicas.Diatonic Harmonicas Diatonic harmonicas are available in three different types of reed tuning: single reed tuning, tremolo tuned, and octave tuned. The first type, the single-reed diatonic harmonica, is constructed with single holes in the mouthpiece, and 1 "blow and draw" reed in each hole. Each reed is tuned to a different tone (e.g., hole 1: CD, hole 2: EG). There are a number of Hohner single reed models available to the public. For example, a Hohner catalog indicates that one model is available in the keys of C and G. It's one complete octave range is contained in 4 holes. Another model, is available in the major keys of A, B, Bb, C, Db, E, Eb, F, F#, G, and Ab. A tonal range of 3 octaves can be played on this 10 hole instrument. There is a model that is tuned in the minor keys of C and G, and has a musical range of 3 octaves in its 10 holes. For the blues player, there is a 10 hole model available in a number of different keys, and has a 3 octave range. The tonal arrangement of a typical single reed, 10 hole harmonica, is as follows:
McMahan, Robert Young: The AccordionWorks of William Grant Still
Mar., 1, 2007
The Accordion Works of William Grant StillRobert Young McMahan Quietly tucked inside the music section's regular "Hemidemisemiquavers" column of the Saturday, April 24, 1960, issue of the "New York Times" is the following modest announcement: "William Grant Still's `Aria for Unaccompanied Accordion,' the eighth work commissioned by the American Accordionists' Association, will have its first performance at Town Hall May 15." (1) The previous seven commissions were by no less significant names in American music. The first contract is dated March 10, 1957, and was awarded to Paul Creston, whose ebullient Prelude and Dance, Op. 69, was published by Pietro Deiro, a well established accordion publisher, in 1958, and premiered by concert virtuoso Carmen Carrozza in Carnegie Hall, May 18,1958. (2) Compositions which followed, in order of commissioning, were, in1958, Wallingford Riegger's Cooper Square, Op. 70, and Creston's Concerto for Accordion and Orchestra, Op. 75 (one the instrument's major and most virtuosically challenging works); and, in 1959, Virgil Thomson's Lamentations, Carlos Surinach's Pavana and Rondo, Robert Russell Bennett's Four Nocturnes, and Henry Cowell's Iridescent Rondo. Still's Aria was contracted in 1959 also, on December 1. All of these pieces were published (in the case of Aria, by Sam Fox, in 1960), had successful premieres in New York, Boston, or Chicago, in such places as New York's Town Hall and Carnegie Hall, Boston's Symphony Hall, and the Arts Club of Chicago, and received generally positive reviews, particularly in the New York Times, New York Herald Tribune, and Christian Science Monitor. (3) The American Accordionists' Association was founded in 1938 by twelve of the truly first accordion virtuosi in history. Significantly representing the first generation of these pioneers was Pietro Deiro (1888-1954), who, like his contemporary and fellow A. A. A. founder, Pietro Frosini, had left Italy for America where he introduced the accordion for the first time on the vaudeville stage. He also collaborated with accordion manufacturers to refine the instrument to concert quality (beyond its numerous primitive nineteenth century ethnic prototypes) and create the familiar piano accordion of today. (4) Important second generation co-founders were Charles Magnante, often called the Heifitz of the accordion, and his brother-in-law Joseph Biviano. All were successful in radio and recording studio work and had also given frequent recitals and workshops which included transcriptions of past masters' works and original classical compositions, usually in nineteenth century style, which they had written for their instrument. The stated goals of the A. A. A. included engaging "in activities for the advancement of the accordion, without pecuniary profit," to "hold competitions and to promote the study and improvements of the accordion," and, important to this discussion, "to publish literature to be of service to accordionists." (5) Regarding the last point, however, nothing is specifically said about building an actual original literature for the instrument. A then outsider to the organization was to eventually address that all important issue. In the mid-1940s a young, newly married college girl from Detroit, Elsie Bennett (nee Blum), arrived with her groom, Mortimer Bennett, to his family's original home, Brooklyn, New York. Elsie had studied the accordion in her youth and was in the midst of pursuing a degree in music theory at Wayne University when they moved to Brooklyn. To finish the degree she elected to take courses in orchestration and composition at Columbia University, with the intention of transferring the credits to her would-be alma mater, from which she finally did graduate in 1945. Her composition teacher at Columbia was Otto Luening, who was eventually to be commissioned by the A. A. A. as well. When she decided to pursue a Master's Degree at the Columbia Teachers' College, she requested that the accordion be accepted as her major instrumental emphasis. This was allowed, and Columbia assigned her the task of finding a good teacher. She approached Charles Magnante, who, not liking to teach, recommended Joseph Biviano. He consented to this arrangement and was consequently appointed the official accordion instructor of that school. (6) Elsie's required degree recital had to represent all major musical style periods, including the twentieth century. She had no difficulty selecting literature from the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic periods, since by this time, accordionists had published and performed many transcriptions of works by such masters as Bach, Mozart, and Mendelssohn. Deiro's accordion concertos were also firmly representative of Romantic era music, though they were composed during this century. But the twentieth century was virtually devoid of any significant solo works by aclaimed, non-accordionist composers. She discovered a number of ensemble works which included accordion, such as Hindemith's Kammermusik Nr. 1 and Virgil Thomson's curious opera Four Saints in Three Acts, as well as a brief moment in Berg's opera Wozzeck. But for a solo recital, she had very little to go on in 1946. Nevertheless, she was able to give the recital and received her Master of Arts degree in that year. To combat this dearth of original works for the accordion in the future, Otto Luening eventually suggested to his student that composers needed to be commissioned and paid to write for the accordion if it were ever to gain a prestigious original repertoire. By 1953 Ms. Bennett was deeply involved as an official in the A. A. A. (the result of Biviano's and Deiro's invitation to her to join the organization around the time of her graduation from Columbia). That April she invited Luening to address an open meeting about this very issue. His eloquent and convincing plea for commissioning works resulted in that organization's establishment of the Composers' Commissioning Committee, with Elsie as the chair, a position she continues to energetically hold today, despite her seventy-six years. (7) Since Still's Aria, forty-two more commissions have been made, two of which were assigned to the writer recently. Names of particular distinction, in addition to those already listed, include Henry Brant, David Diamond, Lukas Foss, Ernst Krenek, George Kleinsinger, Paul Pisk, Elie Siegmeister, Jose Serebrier, Alexander Tcherepnin, and most recently, Pauline Oliveros, who, herself, is an accordionist and holds a bachelor's degree in that instrument from the University of Houston. (8) (Unfortunately, at least as many composers of this rank turned down A. A. A. commissions over the years as well.) (9) Other similar organizations, such as the Accordion Teachers' Guild and various European groups, in addition to individual performers, have also commissioned or had works voluntarily written for them in all forms over the past half century--solo, concerto, chamber, etc.--so that today, the repertoire stands at well over five-hundred compositions and is constantly growing. (10) It can be claimed, nevertheless, that Ms. Bennett and the A. A. A. were at the forefront of this effort and that William Grant Still is one of the early and important contributors. Bennett first wrote to Still for the commission probably early in1959, and sent him some information on the accordion and a copy of Creston's Prelude and Dance. The first surviving letter of the Bennett/Still association is from the composer to the commissioner, dated March 12, 1959, thanking her for the materials and stating that he is very impressed with the accordion's apparent capabilities. Bennet replied in a May 21 letter*GIVE CONTRACT DATE, LETTERS, ETC., RE BEGINNING OF STILL COMMISSION. In a feature article by Elsie Bennett on Still's commission which appeared in the February 1961 issue of Accordion and Guitar World, she indicates that, since the composer lived on the other side of the continent, in Los Angeles, she asked the famed accordionist Myron Floren, of the immensely popular Lawrence Welk Orchestra and television show, to explain the instrument to Still and help edit the work. Unfortunately, Floren does not mention his visit with Still in his 1981 autobiography (written with his daughter Randee Floren), Accordion Man. But correspondence between him and Bennett (in the Bennett files) reveal the following: Bennett was advised by Carmen Carrozza to request Floren's assistance, and she wrote to Floren about this, and to ask that Floren arrange to have a publicity photograph made of him and Still, on December 11, 1959. Floren responded in a January 11, 1960, letter that Still had contacted him, they had the photograph taken (see Fig. 1; it appears in the above cited Accordion and Guitar World article), and they had met to work on the already composed Aria. At this meeting, Floren reports the following: "His [Still's] wife [Verna Arvey] played the Aria on the piano first and then we began working from the beginning and I would play each phrase with different switches until he heard the sound that he had had in mind in writing the piece." *MSS Still was clearly impressed with both the instrument and the artist, as a Christmas Eve, 1959, letter to Bennett which was quoted in the article attests: "My association with Mr. Floren made me realize what the instrument can accomplish in the way of virtuosity and in sustained and flowing melodies. One can no longer speak simply of 'the sound' of an accordion, because of the variety of its tonal effects. After hearing some of the striking and appealing things that can be done on it, I would say that it not only has many resources, but it could very well be used with marked effectiveness in the orchestra. I am interested enough to want to again write for the accordion, and I am sure that as other composers listen to and study the instrument carefully, they, too, will share my enthusiasm for it." Still also revealed that he had worked with Sidney B. Dawson, one of the founding members of the A. A. A. (see n. 4), a few years earlier in arranging a spiritual for accordion and chorus (title unknown), but it was not until later, when he heard a recording of Magnante playing his own transcription of Bach's organ Toccata in D Minor, an item Ms. Bennett gave to all potential commissionees, that he "really began to understand what the instrument [could] do in the hands of a true artist." (11) Floren confirms this part of Still's Christmas Eve letter in a letter to Bennett: "He had listened to the records you [Bennett] had sent him and was especially impressed with some of the concert work of Magnante." Still's daughter and strong promoter of her father's music, Judith Still Headlee, has little memory of Floren's visit, as she explains in a recent letter to the writer: "I have no memories of Myron Floren, except that I came downstairs one afternoon and found him (or some gentleman) in the living room, demonstrating the accordion. He was instructing my father in the instrument." (It should be mentioned here that Ms. Headlee would have been about sixteen years old at the time. Floren remembers her appearance that day, however, and that it was one of "many meetings" he had with Still, as recently reported in a letter to the writer.) She continues, explaining that her father was "very private in his composing" and "never discussed a piece unless my mother was writing words for it. Moreover, he stopped writing in his diary in 1959, so there may be no record [of Floren's visit or of his impressions of the accordion] there." Ms. Headlee also offers further explanation for the lack of further comment by her father on this matter: "In the [19]60s he was tired, discouraged and less optimistic, so that his music had a wistful, lyrical quality, and he was less likely to indulge himself in learning new instruments such as the organ and accordion. . . Just think what he could have done if he had discovered the accordion in 1921, when he began the composition of Levee Land?" Floren was very pleased with the piece, reporting to Bennett that he "found the Aria to be a beautiful number with many interesting color changes." He apparently feels the same about it three decades later, as can be observed in the letter to the writer cited above: "I think the Aria fitted the accordion very well and was a beautiful piece of music. Very lyrical." Furthermore, his opinion of Still as a human being echoes that of practically everybody who knew and consequently loved him: "I thought he was a very fine gentleman, very quiet and unassuming." (12) Fulfilling the New York Times announcement, the world premiere of Aria did indeed take place on Sunday afternoon, May 15, 1960, at 2:30, as part of the Sano Accordion Symphony concert at Town Hall. Participating artists were Eugene Ettore, veteran accordionist and the conductor of the accordion orchestra, guest artist Myron Floren, who, as planned, performed Aria as well as Bennett's Four Nocturnes (at Elsie Bennett's request), and Judy Procida, who served as narrator for a musical novelty tribute by Ettore (with words by his student Rosemarie Gerber [now Cavanaugh]) to Floren entitled Hey! Myron. The rest of the program consisted of accordion orchestra transcriptions of such works as Moussorgsky's A Night on Bald Mountain, Donizetti's overture to Don Pasquale, and the finale of Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony. Floren requested from Elsie Bennett and was given about one hour of stage time. (13) In addition to the Still and Bennett pieces, he performed Fughetta, by accordionist John Gart, various transcriptions (Vittorio Monti's Czardas, Claude Debussy's Clair de Lune, Aram Khachaturian's Sabre Dance, Sir Arthur Sullivan's The Lost Chord, and Ferde Grofe's "On the Trail," from the Grand Canyon Suite), and "selected old time dances," (Clarence "Pinetop" Smith's "Original" Boogie Woogie, Les Brown's Sentimental Journey, Thomas Haynes Bayly's Long, Long Ago, and Tolchard Evans's inescapable Lady of Spain). (14) Despite this motley assortment of selections, Francis D. Perkins, of the New York Herald Tribune, gave a favorable review, saying that the two original works (the Still and Bennett pieces) possessed "melodic appeal and variety of mood," and that they "revealed their composers' understanding of the accordion's requirements and resources." (15) Over the next few years, Aria was to enjoy further momentous, mainstream exposure. Carmen Carrozza, a brilliant "third generation" virtuoso, who, though a student of Deiro, was younger than such "second generation" artists as the aforementioned Magnante, Ettore, and Biviano, included it in his many recitals and appearances in general contemporary music concerts, particularly in New York. Being apparently more at ease with contemporary music than his older colleagues, he was responsible for playing the premieres of most of the A. A. A. commissions, particularly in the 1960s and 1970s. On February 11, 1961, he gave a recital of all-commissioned works, including Aria and two other pieces by Cowell and Hovhannes similarly commissioned by the Accordion Teachers Guild, at the Arts Club of Chicago. The capacity audience received the new music, played on this new instrument, very enthusiastically, according to Carrozza (there is no review, unfortunately). (16) About two months later, on April 17, 1961, he participated in the final concert of the season for the National Association of American Composers and Conductors, at Carnegie Recital Hall, playing the earlier mentioned solos by Thomson and Creston, as well as the Still piece. Francis D. Perkins once again had kind words for the commissioned works in his New York Herald Tribune review, saying that all three pieces were "engaging and instrumentally grateful." Eric Salzman, writing for the New York Times, was more specific about each piece, describing Aria as "mild, modal, [and] wandering." (17) Other noteworthy performances include a May 6, 1962, Town Hall recital of all A. A. A. works, including Aria, performed by Carrozza which got glowing reviews from John Gruen, of the New York Herald Tribune, and from the New York Times; (18) a February 21, 1964, co-operative program of all-commissioned works by Cowell, Kleinsinger, Siegmeister, Bennett, Diamond, Luening, Creston, Brant, and, of course, Still, performed by four young and promising accordionists, Janice Simon, who played Aria, Joseph Soprani, Robert Conti, and Kathy Black, at the Donnell Library, in New York, and which was broadcast over WNYC radio; (19) and another Carrozza recital, again including Aria, presented by the American Festival of Negro Arts at Aronow Hall, City College, New York City, on February 22, 1965. (20) In addition to these and many other performances, Aria was included with other commissioned pieces in two A. A. A.- sponsored teacher/student workshops in New York on September 22, 1964, and September 27, 1969, and has been selected as the test piece for the A. A. A. national and regional competitions many times, as has his second accordion piece, Lilt, beginning at least as early as 1967. (In fact, the writer recalls the first time he ever played Aria was as the required test piece for one of those contests in that period.) (21) In addition to these mostly New York performances, the celebrated and, sadly, recently and prematurely late, Danish concert artist, Mogens Ellegard, performed Aria and other A. A. A. works at the University of Miami's third annual Festival of American Music, May 4, 1962, and throughout Europe and Israel (including some radio and television broadcasts) in 1965. (22) Back in the United States there were many other recitals and broadcasts which featured it outside of New York. The writer knows of at least six occasions first hand between 1975 and today in which he included it, and, in some instances Lilt also, in recitals at St. John's College (in Santa Fe, New Mexico), Johns Hopkins University, the Peabody Institute, Morgan State University (in Baltimore), Trenton State College (in New Jersey and where he presently teaches), and on a Morgan State University radio program on black music hosted by the well-known authority on that subject, Dominique de Lerma. This performance history is probably fairly representative of that of many other concert artists regarding the inclusion of the Still pieces on their programs. (23) So grateful was the A. A. A. for this delightful little piece that Mr. Still was honored on June 25, 1962, at the Annual A. A. A. Dinner Dance, at the Commodore Hotel in New York. Unable to attend, he sent his good friend, composer Kay Swift (perhaps most acclaimed for her 1930 Broadway hit, Fine and Dandy), to receive a special plaque for him. (24) Later that summer, Ms. Bennett writes in her article about him in the special May 1975 festschrift issue of The Black Perspective in Music, that she visited the Stills in their Victoria Avenue residence in Los Angeles, and they all became close, life-long friends. (25) In an undated letter from Mr. Still to Ms. Bennett which must have been received sometime during early 1960 the composer describes the form of his piece as a rondo which breaks down into the following eight subdivisions: 1. Theme I / 2. Theme II (extended by development) / 3. Theme I / 4. Here a codetta takes the place of a transition / 5. Theme II (strongly contrasted and extended by development) / 6. Re-transition / 7. Theme I / 8. Coda (26) Years later, Still gave another description of Aria in a letter to Ms. Bennett. He wrote in the third person so that Ms. Bennett could more fluently include it in a future article about him. As it turned out, the quotation was never used (although an accompanying one about Lilt was; see below). "The composer's love for opera led him to write a broad, soaring melody reminiscent of operatic music. This appears at the beginning and end of Aria, the sections separated by a Scherzo-like movement demanding nimble fingers and a clear sense of rhythm. The piece employs many of the unique resources typical of the accordion as an instrument." (27) The piece may be more readily perceived as a large A/B/A1 form, however, because Still's designated items 1 through 4 seem to be all of one fabric, owing to the slow but rather rubato tempo and a fairly faithful adherence to the Aeolian mode in the main double period portion of the principal theme; item 5 (the "Scherzo-like movement" mentioned in the second quotation above) is in a sprightly, faster tempo, and a considerably chromaticized but clear F major key, and presents a strong contrast to what came before despite its disguised derivation from the earlier "Theme II"; and, following the section 6 bluesy, slow retransition, a truncated, but nonetheless lengthy, return of the opening section's main theme and, very importantly, slow tempo and A minor tonality, prior to the dramatic coda. (See analytical diagram, Fig. 1.) The mood of the entire work is very peaceful and poetically fragile, with characteristically Stillian touches of modal, pentatonic, and quartel writing moderately imposed upon an otherwise frankly tonal and post-romantic style. Though the fingerwork of Aria is easily rivaled by the heavy virtuosic requirements of such other A. A. A. commissions as the Creston Concerto and Krenek Toccata, the writer has played few pieces that make as high a demand on the performer's expressive abilities--and expose performance mistakes so clearly! It nevertheless comes quite close to what Ms. Bennett requested of Still in her first letter of invitation for a commission, some six months before the official contract was sent: "We would like something ranging from medium to difficult to perform since we would like the number to be featured on concert programs. If the number were suitable it might also be used by contestants in our various accordion contests. This is not a prime consideration, however, we are more interested in getting a good pice of music that has something to say." (28) In this same letter, Still was offered the usual A. A. A. remittance of $200, to be paid jointly by the A. A. A. and his publisher. Typical of many of the A. A. A. commissions of the 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s, Aria calls for the traditional piano accordion with the standard, so called "stradella," "120-bass" left-hand manual, consisting of one octave of single notes (extendable to other octaves by means of registral switch changes), and preset major, minor, major-minor seventh, and diminished chord buttons, all of which allow composers to come up with some very inventive polytonal or tone cluster structures, often performed at high speeds, which are difficult or impossible to obtain on other keyboard instruments. Many later A. A. A. works allow the performer to use the more recently invented and added three- to four-octave single-note arrangement of the "free bass" manual, which is available in two different formats, one of which is chromatically arranged and the other following the circle-of-fifths layout of the stradella system (see the left-hand manual diagrams in Fig. 2). In a feature article on Still in the November 1963 issue of The Music Journal we find him still saying good things about the accordion: ". . . I know this instrument has wonderful possibilities and there are always fine accordionists who would like to see more music composed specifically for their instrument." (29) Elsie Bennett and the A. A. A. eventually followed up on this notion personally for Mr. Still by asking him to write another accordion solo. The expressed goal of this commission, as stated in a letter from Ms. Bennett to the composer dated February 21, 1965, was "to write a simple piece that could be used for teaching purposes." (30) The contract was sent to Still the following summer, on July 5, 1966, and the resulting piece, indeed easier technically, but, typically, not expressively, was entitled Lilt. It joins other intermediate level student commissions, such as Jose Serebrier's Danza Ritual, Creston's Embryo Suite, and Tcherepnin's Zigane, all commissioned around the same time. According to A. A. A. contract records, it constitutes that organization's twenty-ninth commission (see n. 3). An article in the Fall 1968 Accordion Horizons magazine announced the publication of Lilt by Deiro and the fact that it had been chosen as a test piece for both the A. A. A. Eastern Cup and New York State regional competitions that year (see n. 18). In addition, Still is quoted as describing his new piece as a "jaunty, good-humored little tune with an easy, infectious rhythm. The middle section, also melodic, offers a sparkling contrast to the basic theme." (31) (But the rather brief middle section is not as strongly contrasted to the outer A sections, at least regarding tempo, as are the principle segments of Aria to each other.) Like Aria, Lilt is written for the standard piano/stradella accordion, and is similarly serene and tonal (A minor / A major / A minor, with the usual modal and pentatonic leanings), and follows a similar rondo plan, framed within larger A/B/A sections (see Fig. 3). And, as may be expected for a student level composition, it is melodically, harmonically, and formally simpler and more "popular" in nature than was its lengthier and more serious predecessor. Curiously, if one is to go by the chronological listing of works in the book William Grant Still and the Fusion of Cultures in American Music, edited by Robert Bartlett Haas, both accordion pieces were written in times of seeming inactivity for the composer. It appears that Lilt was the only work completed in 1966; and Aria, along with the orchestral tone poem Patterns and the "Lyric" string quartet, all purportedly completed near or during 1960, followed the Third Symphony and the opera Minette Fontaine by a year, with nothing showing for the bulk of 1959. The years between 1960 and 1966 are furiously busy, however, with at least sixteen works listed in the chronology, including the opera Highway 1, U. S. A., the orchestral works Los Alnados De Espana, Preludes, and Threnody: In Memory of Jan Sibelius, and the Folk Suites, Nos. 1 through 4, for various chamber ensembles. (32) What is more remarkable is that, to the best of the writer's knowledge, William Grant Still is the only published African American composer to have written for the accordion to date. A former classmate of the writer's at the Peabody Institute, the late Ronald Roxbury (an African American who grew up in Salisbury, Maryland), wrote an excellent and highly idiomatic set of four atonal Preludes at about the same time Still's Lilt was published. The writer had the pleasure of premiering that composition at Peabody not long after its creation, and is happy to report that the A. A. A. is presently looking into having it published posthumously. (33) A few years later, Roxbury promised to write two works for New York accordionist William Schimmel, a concerto for accordion and strings and a duet for accordion and guitar, but they never materialized. (34) Finally, Ulysses Kay accepted a contract from the A. A. A., dated November 24, 1961, which he regrettably soon returned to Ms. Bennett, explaining that he had tried but felt that he could not succeed in writing something fitting for the instrument. (35) Be that as it may, the accordion world feels very privileged to possess these two little gems by Still which show every evidence of having been written from the heart and with the same effort and enthusiasm that he had put into his more celebrated major works. They are, in the writer's opinion, thoroughly good Still, and a delight to perform. Notes: The writer heartily thanks Elsie Bennett and accordionist Stanley Darrow for generously opening their extensive accordion archives to him for hours and days on end and for their invaluable and unrestrained assistance in many other ways. (1) "Hemidemisemiquavers," New York Times, April 24, 1960, p. 11, col. 6. (2) "Concert, Recitals Today," New York Times, May 18, 1958, p. 8, col. 3; Accordion and Guitar World 23, n. 3 (June 1958): 19. (3) American Accordionists' Association contracts in files of Elsie Bennett. A full list of these contracts and some manuscripts or published copies (where contracts cannot be found) follows, chronologically arranged and numbered through the present. The two Still pieces (in bold) are nos. 8 and 29, commissioned in 1960 and 1966 respectively: 1) Paul Creston, Prelude and Dance (see n. 2); 2) Wallingford Riegger, Cooper Square, April 9, 1958; 3) Paul Creston, Concerto for Accordion and Orchestra, July 11, 1958; 4) Virgil Thomson, Lamentations, April 15, 1959; 5) Carlos Surinach, Pavanna and Rondo, June 11, 1959; 6) Robert Russell Bennett, Four Nocturnes: no contract found, but an article by Elsie Bennett in Accordion and Guitar World ("Robert Russell Bennett Joins Ranks of Composers for Accordion," vol. 24, n. 11 [February, 1960]: 9, 36) indicates that he wrote the Four Nocturnes sometime after May 1959 and that it had already been completed and published by Chappell by the time of printing for that issue of the magazine; and a New York Times review (John Briggs, "4 Works for Accordion Played In Premieres to Aid Repertory," November 22, 1959, p. 85, cols. 4-5), announcing its premiere performance by Carmen Carrozza, narrows the period of composition to some five months in the middle of 1959; 7) Henry Cowell, Iridescent Rondo, July 14, 1959; 8) William Grant Still, Aria, December 1, 1959; 9) Henry Cowell, Concerto Brevis, February 4, 1960; 10) Otto Luening, Rondo, June 23, 1960; 11) Paul Pisk, Salute to Juan, October 28, 1960; 12) Alexander Tcherepnin, Partita, November 1, 1960; 13) Henry Brant, Sky Forest, for jazz accordion quartet, November 7, 1960; 14) Elie Siegmeister, Improvisation, Ballade, and Dance, November 10, 1960; 15) David Diamond, Night Music, for accordion and string quartet, December 8, 1960; 16) Louis Gordon, Aria, Scherzo, and Finale, for accordion and orchestra or band, August 5, 1961; 17) Paul Pisk, Adagio and Rondo Concertante, for two accordions and orchestra, November 10, 1961; 18) David Diamond, Sonatina, January 15, 1962; 19) George Kleinsinger, Prelude and Sarabande, January 18, 1962; 20) Ernst Krenek, Toccata, April 2, 1962; 21) Robert Russell Bennett, Quintet ("Psychiatry"), for accordion and string quartet, September 15, 1962; 22) Normand Lockwood, Sonata Fantasy, January 3, 1964; 23) Nicholas Flagello, Introduction and Scherzo, March 20, 1964; 24) Alexander Tcherepnin, Invention, March 24, 1965; 25) Paul Creston, Fantasy, for accordion and orchestra, or accordion solo, July 17, 1964; 26) Carlos Surinach, Prelude of the Sea, March 25, 1965; 27) David Diamond, Introduction and Dance, March 17, 1966; 28) Jose Serebrier, Danza Ritual, March 17, 1966; 29) William Grant Still, Lilt, July 5, 1966; 30?) Jose Serebrier, Passacaglia and Perpetuum Mobile, for accordion, strings, brass, and percussion; no contract found, but MS is dated 1966; 31) Alexander Tcherepnin, Tzigane, February 14, 1967; 32) Paul Creston, Embryo Suite, July 11, 1968; 33) Joel Brickman, Prelude and Caprice, April 11, 1972; 34) William Schimmel, Fables, August 5, 1974; 35) John Franceschina, Scaramouche, June 16, 1975; 36) William Schimmel, Variations in Search of a Theme, June 17, 1976; 37) Timothy Thompson, Growth Cells, July 17, 1976; 38?) Karen Fremar, Introduction and Allegro, for accordion and synthesized tape; no contract was found, but published score (Deffner) is dated 1976; 39) Lukas Foss, Curriculum Vitae, November 12, 1976; 40?) Timothy Thompson, Keyworld; no contract was found, but MS dated 1976-77; 41?) Timothy Thompson, Rossiniland; no contract was found, but MS dated 1977; 42) William Schimmel, The Spring Street Ritual; no contract was found, but the published score (Deffner) indicates it was jointly commissioned by the American Accordionists' Association and the Accordion Teachers' Guild in 1979; 43) John Franceschina, Concerto for Accordion and Orchestra, May 22, 1985; 44) Joseph Biviano, Quintet in G, for accordion and string quartet; 45) William Schimmel, Remembering a Legend; Charles Magnante, April 7, 1987; 46 or 47) Jose Halac, Accordion Shadow, April 30, 1993; 46 or 47) Dave Soldier, Sontag in Sarajevo, April 30, 1993; 48 or 49) Robert Young McMahan, Incantations, for 'cello and accordion, December 28, 1993; 48 or 49) Robert Young McMahan, Apparitions, for flute and accordion, December 28, 1993; 50) Pauline Oliveros, [work in progress], 1995. Various New York Times and New York Herald Tribune reviews, as well as some from other newspapers and journals, will be cited below. The topic of the Christian Science Monitor was the world premiere of Creston's concerto, given by Carmen Carrozza and the Boston Pops Orchestra, Arthur Fiedler conducting (Harold Rogers, "Carmen Carrozza Soloist in Concerto for Accordion," May 11, 1960, p. 11, cols. 6-8). (4) John C. Gerstner, "The Passing of Pietro [Deiro]," Accordion World 20, n. 1 (November 1954): 4, 16; "Pietro Deiro Dead; Accordionist Was 66," New York Times, November 4, 1954, p. 31, col. 4. The minutes of the first A. A. A. meeting are reproduced, along with a photograph of nine of the twelve founders, in the American Accordionists' Association Fiftieth Anniversay Souvenir Journal and Program, 1988: 10-11 ("Minutes of the First Meeting [March 9, 1938]"). The full list of founders are (in order of appearance in the photograph) Pietro Frosini, Abe Goldman, Sidney Dawson, Anthony Galla-Rini, Charles Magnante, Pietro Deiro, Sr., Charles Nunzio, Gene von Hallberg, Joseph Biviano, and, not in the photograph, John Gart, Sam Roland, and Byron Streep. (5) The Credo of the A. A. A. may be read in full in the 1963 Annual of the American Accordionists' Association, 1963: 5. Additional articles of interest in the same publication are Theresa Costello (A. A. A. Secretary), "Our Silver Anniversary, 1938-1963" (p. 1) and Eugen Ettore (A. A. A. President), "An Open Letter from Eugene Ettore, President American Accordionists' Association" (p. 3). (6) The material in this and the next paragraph is from an interview with Elsie Bennett at her Brookln, New York, home and music studio, February 26, 1995. (7) Luening's talk is extensively described and quoted in "Otto Luening Addresses A. A. A. at Open Meeting," American Accordionists' Association News 4, n. 2 (April 1953): 3, 6. (8) See n. 3 for a full chronological list of composers and their commissions. (9)Composers who Ms. Bennett's files reveal turned down commissions by either saying no at personal interviews or by not returning signed contracts include Marc Blitzstein, William Schuman, Darius Milhaud, Paul Hindemith, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Carlos Chavez , Douglas Moore, Aaron Copland, Roger Sessions, Samuel Barber, Vittorio Giannini, Vincent Persichetti, Gian-Carlo Menotti, Luigi Dallpiccola, and others. Sometimes other obstacles hampered the increase of A. A. A. commissioned repertiore. For example, when Ms. Bennett approached Igor Stravinsky, Robert Craft shielded him from her, and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco signed a contract but unfortunately died before he could get around to writing the piece (interview with Elsie Bennett; [Elsie Bennett:] "Intervi ews or In Person Talks," TS in Bennett files [n. d.]). (10) For a full international list of original works for or including accordion as of 1980, see Joseph Macerollo (accordion instructor, Royal Conservatory, Toronto), Accordion Resource Manual (Canada [no city given]: Avondale Press, 1980). It is hoped that this valuable resource will be updated eventually. . Johann Sebastian Bach, Toccata in D Minor (for organ), arranged for accordion by Charles Magnante (New York: Pagani, 1941). (11) Elsie Bennett, "William Grant Still Writes for Unaccompanied Accordion: Aria for Accordion," Accordion and Guitar World 25, n. 11 (February 1961): 21. The letter from Still to Bennett is dated on Christmas Eve, 1959. Unfortunately, Floren does not mention his visit with Still in his autobiography (written with his daughter Randee Floren), Accordion Man (Brattleboro, Vermont: Stephen Greene Press, 1981). But correspondence between him and Bennett (in the Bennett files) reveal the following: Bennett was advised by Carrozza to request Floren's assistance, and she wrote to Floren about this, and to ask that Floren arrange to have a publicity photograph made of him and Still, on December 11, 1959. Floren responded in a January 11, 1960, letter that Still had contacted him, they had the photograph taken (it appears in the above cited Accordion and Guitar World article), and they had met to work on the already composed Aria. At this meeting, Floren reports the following: "His wife [Verna Arvey] played the Aria on the piano first and then we began working from the beginning and I would play each phrase with different switches until he heard the sound that he had had in mind in writing the piece." Floren also confirms part of Still's Christmas Eve letter: "He had listened to the records you had sent him and was especially impressed with some of the concert work of Magnante." Still's daughter, Judith Still Headlee, has little memory of Floren's visit, as she explains in a letter to the writer (April 14, 1995): "I have no memories of Myron Floren, except that I came downstairs one afternoon and found him (or some gentleman) in the living room, demonstrating the accordion. He was instructing my father in the instrument." (It should be mentioned here that Ms. Headlee would have been about sixteen years old at the time. Floren remembers her appearance that day, however. [Letter from Myron Floren, May 9, 1995.]) She continues, explaining that he was "very private in his composing" and "never discussed a piece unless my mother was writing words for it. Morevoer, he stopped writing in his diary in 1959, so there may be no record [of Floren's visit or of his impressions of the accordion] there." Ms. Headlee also offers further explanation for the lack of further comment by her father on this matter: "In the [19]60s he was tired, discouraged and less optimistic, so that his music had a wistful, lyrical quality, and he was less likely to indulge himself in learning new instruments such as the organ and accordion. . . Just think what he could have done if he had discovered the accordion in 1921, when he began the composition of Levee Land?" (12) Letters from Myron Floren to Elsie Bennett, January 11, 1960 (Bennett files), and the writer, May 9, 1995. (13) Letter from Myron Floren to Elsie Bennett, March 30, 1960 (Bennett files). (14) These selections are listed in a letter from Floren to Bennett, April 27, 1960 (Bennett files). (15) Francis D. Perkins, "Sano Accordion Symphony Plays At Town Hall," New York Herald Tribune, May 16, 1960, p. 12, col. 4. This review and the earlier cited Christian Science Monitor one (see n. 3) were reprinted in a thematic catalogue of A. A. A. works published in June, 1961. (16) [Elsie Bennett], "First Concert of All-Commissioned Works Presented by Carmen Carrozza at Arts Club of Chicago," A. A. A. press release TS, May 1961; in Bennett files. The writer is indebted to Diane Haskell, librarian at the Newberry Library, in Chicago, for the precise date of the concert, a copy of the program, and acknowledgement of there being no reviews. The Accordion Teachers' Guild commissioned works on the recital were Hovhannes's Suite and Cowell's Perpetual Motion. The remaining A. A. A. compositions were Cowell's Iridescent Rondo, Bennett's Four Nocturnes, Riegger's Cooper Square, Thomson's Lamentations, and Surinach's Pavanne and Rondo. (17) Francis D. Perkins, "Conductor-Composer Unit In Season's Final Concert," New York Herald Tribune, April 18, 1961, p. 19, cols. 1-2; Eric Salzman, "Brass Music Played by Composers Group," New York Times, April 18, 1961, p. 42, cols. 3-4. Both this and the above cited Chicago concert were also acknowledged in Pan Pipes of Sigma Alpha Iota 54, n. 2 (January 1962): 72. Regrettably, such major Afro-American newspapers and serials as the Chicago Defender, New York Amsterdam News, Jet, Ebony, and Black Digest, made no mention of any of the Still accordion performances. (18) John Gruen, in "Week-End Events," New York Herald Tribune, May 7, 1962, p. 12, cols. 6-7; H. K., "Carrozza Presents Accordion Recital," New York Times, May 7, 1962, p. 39, col. 4. Unfortunately, neither review makes any mention of Aria, due partly to space given to the world premiere of Luening's Rondo in the same recital. The full program is given, however, in "Carmen Carrozza," Accordion and Guitar World 30, n. 3 (December 1965/January 1966): 8. (19) [Elsie Bennett], "American Music Festival Features Accordion Works," A. A. A. press release TS, March 5, 1964; in Bennett files. (20) Announced in "Music Notes," New York Times, February 22, 1965, p. 14, col. 2, and recalled in "Composers Commissioning," by Elsie Bennett, Accordion Horizons 2, n. 4 (Summer 1966): 13. (21) For example, a September 14, 1968 letter from Bennett to Still indicates that both Aria and Lilt will be used as test pieces in different age groups for the Fall 1968 A. A. A. Eastern Cup Competition. Another letter, dated June 26, 1968, reports that Lilt was used as a required test piece in the sixteen-year-old division of the Fall 1967 A. A. A. Eastern Cup Competitons, and that the New York State Regional Competition also used it on May 5, 1968. Finally, Bennett states to Still in a letter of November 25, 1971, that "Aria is used at practically every contest that our [state] organizations have and I am thrilled when I see it has been picked. Also Lilt has been used." She goes on to write that Lilt was used in the November 1969 Eastern Cup Competition. The workshops are reported in "A. A. A. Seminar--Workshops Successful," by Elsie Bennett, Accordion Horizons: 1965 Convention Issue 1, n. 4: 12, and "Robert Dumm to Analyze Sept. 27 Seminar," Accordion and Guitar World 29, n. 4 (August/September 1969): 4. (22) Review of Miami concert: Doris Reno, "Artist Turns Accordion Into a Concert Triumph," Miami Herald, May 5, 1962, p. 4-B, cols. 1-3 (the writer is indebted to Lynn Downing, at the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers, for this information). Ellegard doubtlessly played this work in many other programs in the United States and elsewhere, as did certainly numerous other artists not recorded here. News of the European and Israeli tour is relayed by Bennett to Still in a letter of February 21, 1965. Bennett had, in turn, heard about the tour in a letter received from Ellegard (Bennett files). (23) Dates and locations of the McMahan performances: Garret Room of the Milton S. Eisenhower Library, Johns Hopkins University, April 25, 1975; Leakin Hall, Peabody Institute, May 11, 1975; Collegium Musicum program, St. John's College (Santa Fe, New Mexico), July 20, 1975; Murphy Auditorium, Morgan State University (Baltimore), November 3, 1977; Bray Recital Hall, Trenton State College (New Jersey), February 6, 1993; and "Melodies, Lyrics, and Notes," Dominique-Rene de Lerma, host, WEAA-FM broadcast (Morgan State University radio station), November 1977. None of these performances received reviews although some concerts were mentioned in Accordion Arts Bulletin ("Performances" [Summer/Fall 1975]: 6), Accordion Arts Magazine ("Performances," vol. 1, n. 2 [Winter 1978]: 12), and a feature article on the writer in the Baltimore Evening Sun (Carl Schoettler, "Low Instrument Esteem Irks Accordion Virtuoso," April 17, 1975, p. B-1, cols. 1-6; port.). De Lerma sent a cassette recording of the radio program to the Stills (with a letter, dated October 25, 1977; copy in possession of the writer) which would have joined earlier tapes they had received from Bennett of Ellegard and another unnamed artist (probably Carrozza) playing Aria (as mentioned in an August 21, 1962, letter from Still to Bennett; Bennett files). (24) Letter of invitation from Bennett to Still, June 11, 1962 (Bennett files); also mentioned in "William Grant Still and the Accordion," by Elsie Bennett, The Black Perspective in Music 3, n. 2 (May 1975): 193-95. (25) Bennett, "William Grant Still and the Accordion," 95. (26) [William Grant Still]: TS (n. d.); Bennett files. (27) Letter from Still to Bennett, June 23, 1968 (Bennett files). In her letter to Still (June 20, 1968; Bennett files) preceding this reply Bennett asked for his descriptions of both Lilt, which he had recently completed, and Aria for her upcoming article announcing the completion and publication of the former (see n. 28). (28) Letter from Bennett to Still, May 27, 1959 (Bennett files). (29) Joyce Lippy, Walden E. Muns, "William Grant Still," Music Journal 21, n.8 (November 1963): 34, 70. (30) In Bennett files. (31) This is Still's description, which accompanied his description of Aria in the earlier mentioned letter to Bennett (June 23, 1968; see n. 24). It appears in Bennett's unsigned article "William Grant Still Writes Second Work for Accordion," Accordion Horizons 4, n. 4 (Fall 1968): 11. (32) "William Grant Still--Catalogue of His Works," in William Grant Still and the Fusion of Cultures in American Music, Robert Bartlett Haas, ed. (Los Angeles: Black Sparrow Press, 1972), 144-45, 153-55, 158-62, 164-65. Partially supporting this statement, Still's wife, Verna Arvey, wrote in her book about "Billy" and herself that the Serenade for Orchestra and "two subsequent commissions by the American Accordionists' Association were the only [works] completed during this period" (Verna Arvey, In One Lifetime [Fayetteville, Arkansas: University of Arkansas Press, 1984], 174). Ms. Arvey's account, which gives no exact parameter of years, is considerably inaccurate, however, though Haas indicates that the Serenade was completed in 1957 and merely premiered in May, 1958 (p. 153), and Aria was completed by early 1960. Lilt, as has been shown above, was not commissioned and composed for another six years. (33) Ronald Roxbury, Four Preludes for Accordion (1968). The original MS of this work is in the possession of accordionist William Schimmel; but the writer sent a photocopy of the photocopy of the MS which the composer had given him for the premiere to the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, where it is included in the Ronald Roxbury Papers, housed in the Peabody Music Library Archives. The Preludes were among the works on Roxbury's Bachelor of Music degree composition recital, which took place in the Peabody Concert Hall, on Tuesday, March 26, 1968 (program copies in the Peabody Archives and in possession of the writer). They were originally written for Roxbury's and the writer's classmate, the late Raymond Bitzel, an oboe and music education major at Peabody as well as an active accordionist who had studied with Baltimore accordionist and "second generation" accordion pioneer Frederick Tedesco. Bitzel was unable to perform the Preludes at the time; so Roxbury asked the writer to do them instead. (34) These works were announced in Accordion Art: International Bulletin of the Accordion Arts Society 1, Issue 2 (second half, 1975): 12. Schimmel recently informed the writer that the works were never completed (or even possibly begun; no known sketches survive). He had once been a member of Eric Salzman's avant-garde group QUOG, and Roxbury joined this venture through his acquaintance with the accordionist. Schimmel was also instrumental in introducing Roxbury into the Philip Glass Ensemble. He is listed among the singers in the CBS recording of Einstein on the Beach, and is partially visible in the one of the photographs in the accompanying thirty-three-page booklet and libretto (Philip Glass, Robert Wilson, Einstein on the Beach, Philip Glass Ensemble, CBS M4K38875 [1984]). Telephone interview with William Schimmel, April 1995. (35) Bennett files
About the Author Born in Washington, D. C., in 1944, Robert McMahan earned his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in composition from the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, where he studied with Robert Hall Lewis, Jean Eichelberger Ivey, and Stefan Grove'. He also holds a master's degree in the Great Books program at St. John's College. His accordion studies were with Louis F. Coppola (three-time AAA national winner), and he won many first place awards in the Senior and Virtuoso divisions of the AAA competitions during the 1960s and early 1970s. Throughout his entire career Dr. McMahan has unswervingly promoted the accordion's great potential as a serious instrument (particularly in mixed ensembles) through performance on many fronts, his compositions, and unofficial commissioning of other composers (including his former mentor, Robert Hall Lewis, who included it in two of his symphonic works). From 1964 to 1991 he lived in the Baltimore area and served on many theory and composition faculties there, including Towson State University, Morgan State University, College of Notre Dame, University of Maryland Baltimore County (where he taught accordion and graduated Baltimore's first accordion major), Essex Community College, and the Peabody Preparatory School (of the Peabody Institute), where, in addition to being head of theory, he also established an accordion major. Now a New Jersey resident, he is assistant professor and head of theory, composition, ear training, and electronic music studies at The College of New Jersey (formerly Trenton State College). Honors in composition include awards from the Annapolis Fine Arts Composers' Competition, the Contemporary Recording Society, and Peabody Institute. Dr. McMahan is also a recognized authority on the American composer Carl Ruggles, and has published articles in American Music, Sonneck Society Bulletin, and the New Grove Dictionary of Opera. He is presently working on a book on the life and works of Ruggles, commissioned by Scarecrow Press. Prior to these literary ventures, he was commissioned by the Library of Congress in the 1980s to write and record two accordion courses for the blind. Besides his writings, he has been featured in articles by others in Keyboard Magazine, High Fidelity, The Baltimore Sun, Accordion Arts Magazine, Contemporary American Composers, and Who's Who in American Composers: Classical. Dr. McMahan has given many full or partial recitals of new music for or including accordion in the mid-Atlantic area and was for many years the regular accordionist for the Baltimore Symphony and other respected local ensembles. He has also performed in many shows at Center Stage (Baltimore), the Kennedy Center, and Arena Stage (Washington), and has worked with such popular artists as Sting, Maureen McGovern, Georgia Brown, Bobby Rydel, and Theodore Bikel. He has also performed under the batons of Gunther Schuller, Sarah Caldwell, Julius Rudel, Frederik Prausnitz, Murry Sidlin, Sergiu Comissiona, Rob Fisher, Peter Schickele, and Les Elgart. In the 1970s he recorded Ernst Krenek's Toccata on the Orion label (at the composer's request). As a composer, Dr. McMahan is more interested in combining the accordion with other instruments than in producing solo literature. To date, he has written several large chamber works and a symphony including the accordion and, more recently, Sonata da Chiesa, for oboe and accordion, which he and renowned oboist James Ostryniec recorded on the CRS label. In 1994 he was commissioned by the American Accordionists' Association to compose two works, soon to be published, Incantations, for 'cello and accordion, and Apparitions, for flute and accordion. Dr. McMahan lives in Titusville, New Jersey, with his wife Anne, a middle school music teacher, and their two children, Anna Beth, a student at Bryn Mawr College, and younger son, Benjamin.
Schimmel D.M.A.. William: WhatConstitutes a Classical Accordionist in America
Mar., 1, 2007
What Constitutes a Classical Accordionist in AmericaWilliam Schimmel D.M.A. © 1994 by William Schimmel

Walk into any GAP [a trendy clothing store] and you will see classic jeans, classic T-shirts, classic Kakais -- classics! It's a funny word today. It's overused -- all the more reason to constantly check it and re-define it. I consider myself to be a classical accordionist simply because the more I study about the past the more I continue to learn. The more I learn, the more I have to teach to my students. I also enjoy my American identity. Not nationalistic by any shape, but truly catholic and diverse in its tastes. We're noted worldwide for our "pop" culture and this includes the accordion. I enjoy recalling the delight on Sofia Gubaidulina's face as I played my piano accordion with quint converter version of her De Profundis. I did it in gothic horror movie style. She loved it. She also took delight in the fact that it was the very accordion that backed up Tom Waits and other rock stars. Alexander Schurbin begged me to do his Sonata No. 2 as "performance art!" I only had a few days to learn it so I asked him could I work the page turns into the performance? He said "Please! Please!" At the performance he sat behind me on sta ge -- part cheerleader, part nemesis -- performance art! I consider myself a missionary as well as a mercenary. A missionary due to the fact that I have something wonderful to share. A mercenary because I get paid to do it. At present, I have no university affiliations except as a guest. I'm entirely freelance even my school The Institute for Private Studies operates entirely on its own -- no grants, no funding, etc. As a missionary/mercenary, I'm sometimes paid to win someone else's war which I do because that's what I'm paid for. I sometimes have to put my own ideas on hold in order to do this well. I think this is part of the North American psyche -- a part of it. In many cases I work for someone who's recent new work is an extension of something I single-handedly started many years ago. I watch them gather much more aplomb than I could have ever dreamed up for myself. The payoff for me is that I usually end up with a fresh new angle that I take with me as I go back to my own work. This is a way of improving my art. A number of European artists have come to me for training and coaching. They come to get "loosened up." I also learn from their training and I use it to "tighten up" my students who need that extra polish. This is a way of learning from everything. What's classical about all of this? It takes a lot of training to be a second or third banana. I think it's easier to be a first banana. It's a strange paradox. I've accepted a kind of limitation and in this limitation new frontiers open up to me all the time. And I have to be well-trained and ready to meet these challenges. I like to think that my accordion work is about the accordion than around the accordion. It's not much about me anymore. My own compositions (realities) explore other works. My recent accordio-shinto work explores our American accordion ancestors such as Deiro, Frosini, Ettore, Contino, Palmer, Pino and yes, Lawrence Welk. I've explored the tango as classical music. With the Tango Project, we ushered in a whole new era of neglected art such as tango, palm court, semi-classics and danceable modernism and post-modernism. Leadership can sometimes take the form of a "back-seat driver" that functions much like Jiminy Cricket did for Pinnochio -- a conscience. In my messy/vital/American/democratic/diverse way, I work for the accordion and its continuing evolution. I stumble, I fall, I succeed, but I continue to learn.About the AuthorDr. William Schimmel earned his doctorate of Music from Julliard. A composer, author, lecturer, philosopher and virtuoso accordionist, he performs in a wide variety of styles from classical to pop and has appeared with many major symphony orchestr as and recorded with such noted performers as Sting and Tom Waits, who said, "Bill Schimmel doesn't play the accordion, he is an accordion." An authority on Kurt Weill, Dr. Schimmel has recorded all of Weill's music with accordion. He is a prolific composer from the concert stage to Broadway theater and is founder of the renowned Tango Project. In 1992 he was named "Best Accordionist" by Keyboard Magazine and recognized as the figure who has done the most to elevate the accordion's otherwise tawdry image.

Sredzienski, Gary: From Romania With Love
Mar., 1, 2007
From Romania With Love
by Gary Sredzienski Editor's Introduction: Piano accordionist Gary Sredzienski began his professional career at age 9. At age 10, he traveled throughout New England performing with a vaudeville act called The Hog Hollow Hooters. He has performed with Ballet New England, the Polish Cultural Arts Foundation in San Antonio, and at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Most of the music Sredzienski plays was written during hard times in his ancestral country, Poland. Sredzienski revives the spirit of the Old Country by playing traditional music, and has transposed Slavic, Yiddish, Balkan, Celtic, and Scandinavian folk music on the piano accordion. Sredzienski is a New Hampshire artist-in-residence, and regularly presents educational programs in New Hampshire schools. He is also the host of a Saturday morning 1950s style radio show called "Polka Party" in Durham, New Hampshire. He was nominated by Congressman John E. Sununu to represent New Hampshire in a free performance on the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage on May 10, 2000. Sredzienski recently completed a tour of Romania with Bill Zecker, an outstanding musician in the contra dance tradition who plays the bass, guitar, piano, fiddle, and mandolin. The trip was funded by the New Hampshire state governor, the state department, and the Smithsonian Institute. The following is an informal description of his tour. How and where could I possibly begin to tell you about our adventure. Bill and I will never forget our first images of Bucharest flying into the airport. Tall grass growing up in the pavement, airplanes blown out and disassembled along the runway.......workers in green uniforms digging ditches then all stopping to watch us taxi along the runway. Cars intermingled with horse-drawn carriages. A poor man on crutches...tattered rags wrapped around his missing legs begging for money in the middle of a busy intersection. The Embassy dropped us off at the hotel with a man with a sub-machine gun standing in front. We were travelling for 22 hours and were told to get some rest......begin the road trip tomorrow morning. Leaving the lowlands of Southern Romania driving north to Transylania....and the Carpathian Mountains. The countryside is immensely beautiful......as a former forester I was so amazed that they have all the same trees and plant life as New Hampshire. People are poor in the country......there seem to be 2 classes in Romania....upper and lower.....no in-between. you drive for miles through winding roads at very high speeds....passing stray dogs, cattle, horses, goats, donkeys and slow moving vehicles. By the way, we were very, very fortunate to have 2 people accompany us. Nic was our driver/body guard......a former captain in the Romanian Army. He is so warm and loveable......and plays accordion!!! Our translator was a brilliant woman by the name of Ruxandra. She loves music, artists and really educated us about history, culture and Romanian life. Before our first gig in the 13th century city of Brasov.......we dined in a traditional Transylvanian mountain house.......wild boar, cow brains, boar sausage, bear, chicken, oven brick baked bread, beer and a very strong drink made of plum wine and laurel leaf......called 'polinka' Not sure of the spelling, but it is THE Romanian drink.....their pride and joy. The gig in Brasov was a July 4th celebration. There were supposed to be over 500 people......only about 100 showed up. It's funny what some think of America!! men in cowboy hats yelling "HEEEEHAAAW". Bill and I did a set after the speeches then came on a traditional Romanian and German dance group. There is a strong German and Hungarian population in these cities........even though they came to these towns in the 1700's, they still retain what is German. Interviewed by Brasov Television and then had to hurry for a 3 hour drive to the next gig. We arrived in a poorer city called Sibiu. Brasov is beautiful with orthodox and medieval structures, while Sibiu had a more 'communist' era feel about it. In front of the hotel waited this real sweet guy with a small US flag in his hand. He was the festival organizer. I asked "where are all these people walking to????" "To see you Americans play!" We immediately proceeded to the park. They had only one microphone in the gazebo.......a microphone probably from our 1970's......the kind that you use in a cassette player!!!!! So Bill and I decided to sit in a blown-out circular water fountain that was probably working during the iron-curtain days. People gather around us....... hundreds. they absolutely loved it.....it really didn't matter what we played......we played everything. Little children with thick accents yelling...."we lov yoo....wee lov yooo." Can you believe it.....we were signing autographs. Met a photographer there from San Francisco.....was travelling through. He followed us back to Bucharest. made many friends in Sibiu.......couples my own age who will now be keeping in touch with me via email. Ate in a wine cellar that evening.......perch. The next day wandered in the streets of Sibiu.....We took pictures because a section of this town looks identical to market street in Portsmouth, NH........they should be sister cities!!! It was sad to see everywhere stray homeless dogs......no one could afford to spay or neuter the animals.....$50 can feed a family for a month! Off to Targoviste We arrived at a factory in Targoviste. A party in the outdoor square of the factory. Speeches.......I must admit that both the U.S. and Romanians were flinging the bull and the people knew it!! They had us play immediately after the speeches...the Romanian speaker said " We have waited 50 years for the Americans to come.....now they are here!!" our translator said...."What a bunch of b.s." Bill and I played......The people were somewhat offended by the speeches that when we played....no one gave us the time of day!!! So we persisted.......I finally saw one man's legging tapping way out of beat to our music, so I decided to sit next to him and play for him, eye to eye, not stand above him. WELL......they absolutely lit up.......and then all went nuts. Then everyone wanted us to sit at their table to play. The gig went from 0 to 200% Some people were put out that we didn't make it to their table.......we were supposed to only play for a half hour.......ended up playing for over 2 hours. They were pulling me out of my chair to dance to 'Ricky Martin'.......I just couldn't so I pulled her on my lap and bounced her up and down......her husband immediately bolted over.....became good friends with them both - top marketing people in Romania. A highlight was back in Bucharest on July 4th. Just as we have 'Good morning America'.......Bill and I were special guests on their national TV show called "Breakfast Romania". They played my rock band cd's......and get this.....we had to lip synch with the music. I never had to lip synch the accordion before!!!!!!!!!! We were sat down and interviewed with our translator. My poor, poor partner Bill. They asked him what stood out in his mind the most about Romania.......he went blank! I stared at the TV monitors.....he's blank...Bill.....Bill......he finally shouted....."THE DONKEY IN THE ROAD" the donkey in the road????? what do you mean???? In Romanian..........it translated to "stupid person or ruffian in the road" it was so embarrassing for him......that we believe people thought that it was funny. They are going to send us a copy of the TV show. Took a bath before the Embassy gig.....flipping through their TV channels........very, very impressive. They have stations dedicated to the preservation of their folk music......so diverse. Gypsy (more politically correctly known as 'Roma') musicians. Of course.....every one lip synching!!! but it was so beautiful. Even master classes for cello on TV. of course....MTV and CNN. But old American jazz videos.......stuff we never see here!!!! I love TV in Bucharest!! The embassy gig......met Ambassador James Rosapepe. Never have I played in front of 4000 people before. Top notch sound system there. Had to play "America the Beautiful" The marines love us.......played lots of old New England reels.....told me that it was the best bluegrass accordion he had ever heard!! As we played we were being televised on this giant sport stadium television screen. We have pictures. All the Romanian army guards wanted to shake our hands. A warm highlight at that gig was that we met many of the Romanian performers from last summer's Smithsonian festival. We all greeted each other with big warm hugs.....my Romanian accordionist counter-part brother.....the gypsy dulcimer player......dancers. Earlier we brought photos of Romanian artisans and managed to find some of them and gave them their pictures. Our translator and driver was very moved by this. Got back at the hotel at 9:30 PM .....drank our gift of elderberry wine and stayed up all night to pack cause we were picked up at 5 am. We are back and I barely scratched the surface!!!!! P.S......my dog's picture will be on a label for a new flavor beer brewed by Smuttynose Beer! That's every dog owner's dream!!
Alessandro Mugnoz, Accordion; and Claudia Menghi, piano:   Repertoire for Free-Reed Instruments from the 19th and 20th centuries (cd review)
Mar., 1, 2007
CD Review: Repertoire for Free-Reed Instruments from the 19th and 20th centuries
Alessandro Mugnoz, Accordion; and Claudia Menghi, piano
tracks: 12
total time: 59:49
released: 2006
Includes 24-page booklet with scholarly notes
  in Italian and English.
Imported from Italy.
review date: October 2006

Order from: The Classical Free-Reed, Inc. eBay Store. Repertoire for Free-Reed Instruments
from the 19th and 20th centuries   SelectionsBernhard Molique: Flying LeavesAngelo Panzini: BallataCesar Franck: Prelude, Fugue and Variation, op. 18Adamo Volpi: Two DivertimentiGianFelice Fugazza: Dialoghi senza tempoAstor Piazzolla: L'evasionRichard Galliano: Tango pour ClaudeItalo Salizzato: Danza eroticaPeppino Principe: Cecilia
Jbanov, Roman: Accordion Festival, Bucharest - Romania (festival review)
Mar., 1, 2007
Review by: Roman JbanovAccordion Festival, Bucharest - RomaniaThe first accordion festival in Bucharest, known also as "The sleepless nights of the accordion" took place from September 7th to 9th in the ARCUB Arts Center, and on September 10th in Ploiesti. This event was the initiative of Romanian accordionist Emy Dragoï, with Richard Galliano [picture left].The year 2006 is the year of the French in Romania. In partnership with the French Embassy, the founders of this festival, Emy Dragoï and the association 'Acordeon Armony Music' decided to invite great artistes from France. The Balkan music has also its charm filled of nostalgic feelings supplemented by the great virtuosity.Accordionist Ion Bica Dragoi, the father of Emy, opened the festival accompanied by a traditional group and with his small son who was highly appreciated by the crowd. They chose to perform a repertoire in memory of the accordionists Farimita Lambru, Marcel Budala and Ilie Budala. Then the trio of David Rolland on the diatonic accordion played music in the Cajun style of Louisiana. The cousin of Emy also made a performance with a program of traditional Balkan music.In the second part of the concert a recital by Roman Jbanov, (picture left) from the Ukraine, on a bayan accordion, played transcriptions of classical music by Buxtehude, Scarlatti, Moussorgski, Rossini and pieces by the French composer Franck Angelis and Russians Viatcheslav Semionov, Evgenii Derbienko and Viktor Novikov. The following day, the audiences heard the French musette style with performances by Alexandra Paris. Roman Jbanov introduced original Russian pieces. Maestro Juan Jose Mosalini played the bandoneon accompanied with the guitar by Argentenian Leonardo Sanchez [picture left]. Their repertoire was the tango with compositions of Astor Piazzola, but also of own compositions of Mosalini and others.The third day Emy Dragoï performed in the first part of the 'Etno-Fonia Swing' jazz and swing manouche, accompanied by the National Academy of Bucharest, and on the piano by Petrica Andrei, Christophe Lartilleux on the guitar, Albert Gheorghe on percussion, Kuba on double bass, with the contributions of various jazz singers: Irina Sarbu, Iitssor Raluca and Teodora Enache. The program was very varied. Richard Galliano charmed the room with his compositions and his individual style [picture bottom].The final concert took place on September 10th in the Philharmonic Théatre of Ploiesti. Almost all this festival was recorded by the Romanian television TVR and will be available their internet site: www.tvr.ro.The aim of this festival was to promote the accordion and related instruments. Emy Dragoï carried this out with a great artistic and musical quality with the assistance of her friends and her family. Maybe a 2nd edition of this festival will take place next year...
Sommers, Joan Cochran: Maestro Anthony Galla-Rini--A Personal Reflection (essay)
Mar., 1, 2007
Essay:
The following essay was originally published in the September/October 2006 edition of Accordion World magazine (editor: David Keen) and is presented here by the permission of Accordion World.
(See our review of Accordion World Magazine).Maestro Anthony Galla-Rini
18th January 1904 - 30th July 2006A Personal Reflection by Joan Cochran Sommers (USA)Anthony Galla-Rini came to Kansas City, Missouri, USA to give solo concerts several times during his concert career. My teacher, Cecil Cochran, sponsored him every time, whether it was for a solo recital or for the many days of group rehearsals and workshops that he also presented. When I was 14 years of age, arrangements were made for some of Mr. Cochran's students to play a solo for Galla-Rini, who was a very handsome, well-dressed gentleman whom everyone thought was really an Italian Hollywood idol who could play this fantastic music on the accordion. Naturally, we were absolutely terrified and, in fact, my younger brother was so scared that he began fiddling with an open window and it fell on his fingers, making him just that much more anxious and far less able to play well. However, in spite of the surrounding excitement and general angst among both parents and students, I performed one of his recent arrangements for him and apparently he was pleased. From that early performance for Anthony Galla-Rini, however. I received the invitation to travel to New York City to be a member of his master class session he was holding. The invitation was only valid if I would learn about 15 solos that he assigned for me to learn in the next few months. I turned 15, began to learn all of them and was given a scholarship that covered my travel expenses so my mother and I took our first airplane ride and flew to the big city of N.Y. Needless to say, the experience had a great influence on me. It was my real introduction to Anthony Galla-Rini as a teacher, one who became my lifelong friend and mentor as well. Tony came to Kansas City for several summers and would stay for a period of three weeks, perhaps, while he rehearsed our accordion orchestra, although they were often called bands in those days. He would send many of his arrangements but would also include a few from Europe that he had obtained on a recent tour or from his overseas friends. Our orchestra would practice the parts and then Tony would come to Kansas City and really put us through the wringer. It was indeed a wringer since, at that time, no one had air conditioning and the summers were hot and humid! We worked many hours a day, day after day after day, until we were ready to perform in Chicago during the NAME Convention period, sometimes sponsored by Galla-Rini in Kimball Hall and other times sponsored by either the Titano or Giulietti Accordion Company during their trade-show concerts. It was an exciting time and on each of these concerts, Tony would premiere the newest of his hundreds of accordion orchestra arrangements, always conducting from memory with great dignity, a trait that never diminished or faltered even at the age of 100 when he needed to sit while conducting. None of us in the orchestra, or those in the large audience, could ever forget the first time we played his arrangement of the Finale to Tschaikovsky's Fourth Symphony. That arrangement, along with the Dance of the Buffoons by Rimsky-Korsakov, probably became the absolute favourite competition piece performed by all accordion orchestras in the United States for a very long time.During these same concerts, Anthony would play several solos, always new and always with at least one selection that no one else would ever have attempted because of the intricate technical passages required in the left hand. What others always thought impossible, Tony would attempt and prove that there was always more the accordionist's left hand could do. At that time, he could only switch to move between the various octaves, there were no free basses for a few years yet.But switch he did and he made his students learn to do so as well. In his workshops, he gave us page after page of melodic exercises in which we were required to mark the correct switches, and fingerings, in order to stay in the exact pitches written on the music. He always thought the left hand should be equal to that of the right hand and did everything in his power as a teacher to help his students to achieve that. To this very day, I have stacks of the numerous exercises he wrote out for us to practice.Anthony Galla-Rini did not focus only on left-hand technique: he also taught right-hand technique, but always with a hint of a music theory teacher's viewpoint, I think. We did not just play exercises, we learned theoretically what it was we were playing. Galla-Rini was a real teacher and introduced us to the books that served as his resources for his own volumes of "treatises" on various musical topics with multitudinous subject matters, often far above our comprehension at that precise moment. Those early lessons have continued to be valuable throughout the many years of my own and many others' teaching careers.During one long period of time, Anthony Galla-Rini served as the Chief Examiner for the Accordion Institute of America's yearly Syllabus Examinations in Kansas City. Students, including myself, were given the usual examinations regarding repertoire performance, aural tests of all sorts, and written music theory. It was a grand occasion when Tony would set up his "testing room" where he would hold examinations for several days at a time and he would rejoice as much as the candidates when they passed each successive syllabus level. He was a strict adjudicator but one who often gave second chances when needed! And during the evening hours of relaxation, while enjoying a dinner, a fine wine, and friendly conversation, he was full of fun, tales of his work in the movies with famous stars or directors, with musical wit as well as the latest news from his colleagues throughout the accordion world. There was another example of Anthony Galla-Rini's personal character, also, when it came to paying the restaurant bill for the evening: Tony always remembered when it was his time to pay or at least share the costs. Yes, he was a true gentleman in addition to being a great musician and these were during times when I am sure he, as the case with most musicians without a weekly salary, needed to watch his pennies. Regardless of all the work he did and of all the thousands of arrangements he made that were published, Tony had to work hard for his money and he did so his whole life.There are many musicians born with absolute or perfect pitch, but none who could have surpassed or even approached the accuracy exhibited by Tony Galla-Rini! He could hear everything: there simply was no way to fool him. Of course, he also knew every note of every piece, solo or orchestral, so he knew what he was supposed to be hearing. His arrangements were never equalled in his day because of his total devotion to writing them as the composer would have written them originally, as if for the accordion in the first place. His tremendous knowledge of music theory and harmony, coupled with his own genius as a composer, arranger, and performer, simply made him better than all others. He omitted nothing; if the composer wrote it, he put it in. If there were cuts made, because of time limits or lack of suitability, he always seemed to make the correct ones! While other arrangements might sound thin, without the inside middle voices, or perhaps even with wrong notes, Anthony Galla-Rini's were always correctly analysed in the first place. And in the second place, he knew how to put it on manuscript. He knew how to use the abilities of the accordionist and he knew the possibilities of the instrument. His accuracy in doing so was simply superb and without fault to the very end. Even in his very advanced age of 99 and even 100, he continued to write those very distinguishable, recognisable and readily readable notes on the page without mistakes, truly another of his remarkable qualities!His understanding of how the left-hand mechanisms worked caused him to merely open up the instrument, cut off the offending 5th of the dominant and diminished seventh stradella chord buttons. Galla-Rini was thereby again paying homage to the rules of harmony and, in so doing, allowed all accordionists far greater opportunities for use of the stradella chords. He was an innovator but it was always for the benefit of the music. Switches on an accordion were placed there to be used, not just to decorate or sell the instrument. Tony used them and he made his students use them properly. I have already alluded to this uncanny ability of his left hand to play tremendously difficult passages and play them in the correct octave. He was just as obsessed with teaching his students the need for understanding correct pitches or octaves in the right hand and how the switches should be used. Middle C was not allowed to move willy-nilly over the keyboard unless the correct switch accompanied the move. It was during these many sessions that I, personally, began to be fascinated with orchestral scores, particularly, and how to understand the different qualities of timbre and their relationships to the accordion. He opened my eyes to the works of so many composers, including those of the familiar traditional keyboard repertoire, but perhaps most especially to those of the great orchestral works.Anthony Galla-Rini was a demanding person, not only of others but also, especially of himself. He expected the best from himself and from his students. There was friendliness and kindness, but always with a firm understanding that he was indeed the master. This was perhaps a throwback to an earlier era, but most certainly warranted in the instance of this great man who came to be known as The Maestro in his later years at his many music camps. Even then he exhibited the elegance required of and demanded by such a title so lovingly bestowed upon him.Literally hundreds and hundreds of players have shared the genius of Anthony Galla-Rini through the playing of his vast numbers of arrangements for solo and orchestra. While some of those were made in response to the dictates of a certain period of time, many others will remain in the repertoire and libraries of accordionists, valuable for both teaching and performance, for students and professionals. His two concerti were perhaps his finest efforts at composition, an art he thoroughly understood. Anthony Galla-Rini also knew intimately each and every instrument for which he wrote and because of this, he composed every note for every instrument; the orchestrations were not left to anyone else. His Concerto No. 1 in g minor is undoubtedly the most performed of any accordion concerto, at least in the United States, if not in the world.His wife, Dina, came from a famous accordion family and was a person who doted on her husband; she sat and listened to every note, every day, wherever and whenever. After she died and Tony remarried, his second wife, Dolly, was the same; she also travelled with him and listened to everything he did with great admiration. I considered it a great privilege to share many good times with both Dina and Dolly and to have had them as my very good friends. I, like hundreds of other accordionists, have many wonderful memories of Anthony Galla-Rini and they will never be forgotten. The world will never forget him since he was a giant in the history of the accordion in so many different ways. From his early years as a child performer growing up in vaudeville and continuing on through practically his last days on earth at the age of 102, his story is well known through the hundreds of articles written about his life and his many accomplishments. But my memories include not only those I have read about but, also, the ones I had the inordinate privilege of sharing as a student, friend and, eventually, a colleague. God blessed us all with the presence and life of Anthony Galla-Rini. He was a good human being and a great musician! May his legacy live on forever.Copyright 2006
ACCORDION WORLD
Robinson, Les: Does My Accordion Sound OK to You? (essay)
Mar., 1, 2007
Essay:
The following essay was originally published in the July/August 2006 edition of Accordion World magazine (editor: David Keen) and is presented here by the permission of Accordion World.
(See our review of Accordion World Magazine).Does My Accordion Sound OK to You?Part one in a series by Les RobinsonWhen I began repairing accordions professionally many years ago, my main interest was in tuning. It is difficult to give an exact date, but at that time motorcycles were mostly made in Birmingham and it was possible to buy a loaf that tasted like bread. Late sixties, I would say.I soon realised that just getting reeds to the correct pitch is not the whole story. For a tuning to be effective and stable there are many checks to be made and deficiencies put right. Every component contributing to the output of sound should be at its best. Those faults which do not influence the pitch of the reeds but can sabotage their performance should also be sorted out. For example, when an accordion has been in use for some time, dust, fluff, slivers of wood, the occasional digestive biscuit etc builds up behind the keys and buttons. Some of this collection can find its way inside the accordion and choke reeds, especially the smaller reeds at the knee end of the treble keyboard where gravity has taken most of the debris. Or it will become embedded in the leather faces of the key palettes, spoiling their airtightness. Airtightness, or compression, has an important bearing on the instrument's performance.With the above in mind, and because I prefer to work on a clean instrument anyway, on all accordions reconditioned in my workshop for resale every moving part, treble and bass, is serviced before the reedwork is even started, tuning being the final task.Tuning has its basis in mathematics, hence its academic appeal, but tuners do not need math's [sic] to exercise their craft. The earliest tuner 1 have heard of was the Greek, Pythagoras of right-angled triangle fame who, around 550 B.C. invented the Monochord while sitting in his bath, perhaps.I mentioned Pythagoras and his Monochord. I have had many requests about this but decided to tell you about them anyway. The Monochord, then, consists of a taut string stretched between two fixed posts which are mounted on a sounding board or box. A movable bridge allows the effective length of the string to be varied and some important relationships can be demonstrated. Consider an example, if the open string (i.e. no bridge) is A440, then if the bridge is placed at the half-way point we find that A880 (an octave higher) is produced on each side. With the bridge at the two-thirds point, E660 is produced on the long side and E1320 on the short side. And at the three-quarters point D587 is on the long side and D1760 on the short side.Guitar players will see this immediately, violin players even sooner. And if you can prise little Johnny away from his GSCE maths homework to assess the evidence he will tell you that the pitch of the note varies inversely as the length of the string. If you have a table of standard pitches to hand, (doesn't everyone?) you can see that the numbers quoted for E and D are not quite the same as those given by the Monochord. The reason? Your table will show the frequencies of the twelve-note scale in "equal temperament" which is the tuning system in general use in the Western world. It was perfected in 1691 by Andreas Werkmeister and adopted pdq by musicians because in this system all keys sound equally concordant. Johann Sebastian Bach celebrated the fact with his "Well Tempered Clavier" comprising 48 preludes and fugues using all 12 major and all 12 minor keys.When a note is raised in pitch by an octave its frequency, measured in Hertz, is doubled, i.e. multiplied by 2. In the equal temperament system the octave is uniformly divided into 12 semitone intervals. Uniformity is achieved by using a multiplier, the twelfth root of 2 which is approximately 1.0594631.To show how this works we can construct a short table of standard musical frequencies, starting at A440. You may be able to use your computer for this task, but a pocket or desk calculator is more than adequate. Start by feeding in 1.0594631 and make this a constant multiplier. On mine I need to press "multiply" twice for this feature. Next feed in 440 and press "equals" to display 466. 16376 (B flat). Press "equals" again to display 493.8833(B) and again for 523.25113(C). Continue until the octave is completed and beyond if you wish.You ladies may prefer to dance backwards, in which case press "divide" twice at step 2 before inputting 440. This will give decreasing frequencies down to A220 and beyond.Without really trying, you have also built a compound interest table. We deposited £440 in a savings account offering just under 6% interest per annum and we left it intact for 12 years. Then we built a discount table which showed that our £440 will be worth £220 in 12 years time if inflation is just under 6%p.a. each year. Next time - how these numbers are used to tune your piano.Copyright 2006
ACCORDION WORLD
Frosini, Pietro : Jolly Caballero (cd review)
Mar., 1, 2007
CD Review: Pietro Frosini: Jolly Caballero
total time: 77:06
label: AV Norild Forlag AS
review date: May 2006

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The Classical Free-Reed, Inc. Online Gift StorePietro Frosini
Jolly Caballero   SelectionsSwedish Italian MazurkaPensieri Algeri WaltzHot Fingers NoveltyLa Mariposita BoleroBel Viso PolkaFrosini Symphonic MarchDizzy Accordion NoveltyOlive Blossoms WaltzLove Smiles TangoBel Fiore TarantellaCoquette PolkaGauchos on ParadeRag in DmCordinella NoveltyVisione D'Amore WaltzLuna D'ArgentoBeautiful Heaven WaltzI Hate to Love You (traditional)Valse Caprice No. 1Serenata PrimaverileVieni Amore
Rantanen, Matti: ZOLO--Finnish Works for Accordion (cd review)
Mar., 1, 2007
CD Review: ZOLO--Finnish Works for Accordion
total time: 70:40
recorded: August 2003
review date: April 2006 ZOLO
Finnish Works for Accordion   SelectionsEinojuhani Rautavaara (b. 1928)
Fiddlers op.1    Pelimannit op. 1 (1952/1992)*Närböläisten braa speliKopsin JonasJacob KönniKlockar Sarnuel DikströmPirun polska (Devil's polska)Hypyt (Village hop)
Otto Romanowski (b 1952) Hiding, for accordion and tape      (harmonikalle ja nauhalle) (1994)
Harri Vuori (b. 1957) The Hour of the Wolf      Suden hetki (2000)
Jukka Tiensuu (b. 19481) Zolo (2002)
Tapia Tuamela (b. 1958) Feux Follet      Virvatulia (1996)
Pehr Henrik Nordgren (b, 1944) In Patches op. 41 (1978)
Einafuhani Rautavaara (b. 1928)*
Icons      Ikonit (1955/1997) The Death of the Mother of God (Jurnalanjäidin kuolema)Two Village Saints (Kaski maalaispyhimtstä)The Black Madonna of Blakernaya (Blakernajan musta Jumalanäiti)The Baptism of Christ (Kristuksen kaste)The Holy Woman at the Sepulchre (Pyhät naiset haudalla)The Archangel Michael Fighting the Antichrist
(Arkienkeli Mikael kukistaa Antikristuksen)
* arranged by Matti Rantanen
The Complete Works of Pietro Deiro, Volume 1: Celebrated Polkas (cd review)
Mar., 1, 2007
CD Review: The Complete Works of Pietro Deiro Volume 1: Celebrated PolkasHenry Doktorski, Accordionist

Total time: 53:43
Produced by The Classical Free-Reed, Inc
Released: 2006

Review Date: March 2006

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The Classical Free-Reed, Inc. Gift Store

Program: Forbidden PolkaPyramid PolkaParadise PolkaCelestina PolkaHoliday Festival PolkaMother’s Clock PolkaTeresina PolkaTwinkle Toe PolkaCaresse PolkaRhapsody PolkaPolish PolkaRussian PolkaPolka BohemienneBriosa PolkaJubilee PolkaAida PolkaTilba PolkaVivacity Polka
John Molinari and Veikko Ahvenainen - The Historic Recordings (cd review)
Mar., 1, 2007
CD Review: John Molinari and Veikko Ahvenainen
The Historic Recordings John Molinari and Veikko Ahvenainen, Accordions

Total time: 93:32
Produced by Accordia
Released: 2005

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Program: Mozart: Marriage of Figaro OvertureChopin: Waltz in EmPonchielli: Dance of the HourstItalian MedleyCanadian Capers Fagerlahden Hambo Finnish Polka Medley Daquin: The Cuckoo My Sweetheart Kenonen's Polka The Nightingale Sakkijarvi Polka Gounod: Waltz from Faust Sibelius: Finlandia Adamo Volpi: Preludio Galuppi: Presto Bach: Toccata in Dm Smetana: Dance of the Comedians Paganini: La Campanella Liszt: Liebestraum Godzinsky: Hungarian Fantasy Manuel de Falla: Ritual Fire Dance Katchaturian: Sabre Dance Fancelli: Aquarelli Cubani Grieg: March of the Dwarves Rimsky-Korsakov: Flight of the Bumblebee Merikanto: Midsummer Night Waltz Finnish Polka Medley Finnish Folk Dance Magnante: Accordion Boogie
Carmen Carrozza, Accordion (cd review)
Mar., 1, 2007
CD Review: Carmen Carrozza, Accordion
Carmen Carrozza, Accordion

Total time: 36:06
Produced by Dr. Joseph A. Ciccone
Released: 2002

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Program: Jack Walters, New York Story Live Radio BroadcastP. Creston: Prelude and DanceF. Mendelssohn: Piano Concerto in Gm, first movementF. Chopin: Fantasie ImpromptuA. Tcherepnin: Partita W. Riegger: Cooper Square C. Carrozza: Themes from A. Hovhaness' Rubaiyat J.S. Bach: Adagio from Toccata in C Major
Ensemble Draj: Kinderjorn-Aufwachsen im Ghetto (cd review)
Mar., 1, 2007
CD Review: Kinderjorn-Aufwachsen im Ghetto
Ensemble Draj Web Site: www.draj.de total time: 49:40
released: 2006
review date: January 2006 Kinderjorn-Aufwachsen im Ghetto
(Childhood Years--Growing up in the Ghetto) Song List a jingele, a mejdeleun a jingele wet sej firnwer der erschter wet lachnoifn pripetschikawremele un joselekinderjornunter di grinike bojmelechjisrolekpapir is doch wajss schlof, majn feijgeleballade funm hajsla jingele, a mejdeleManuela Weichenrieder: Voice
Ralf Kaupenjohann: Accordion
Ludger Schmidt: Cello

Review by: Robert SteadAs the title "Kinderjorn-Growing up in the Ghetto" suggests, this album is thematically unified. Within the poverty and confines of the ghetto, life rich in emotions, passions, hopes, and dreams exist. The paucity of instruments mirrors the objective poverty of the ghetto. Or, stated another way, the constriction of instrumentation reflects the constraints of the ghetto. But just as the ghetto cannot contain the human spirit, these three instruments, voice, accordion, and cello, combine to display the rich texture of life in the midst of poverty. I intentionally refer to the voice of Manuela Weichenrieder as an instrument due to the way she uses it to blend and complement the accordion and cello. Using only their respective instruments without any overdubbing or looping and with either no or very limited reverberation, the Ensemble Draj brings these Yiddish songs to life.The songs presented here are a combination of traditional Yiddish pieces and songs composed in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Ensemble Draj mixes jazz, new music, blues, and classical forms in order to draw out the emotions latent in each piece. Vocalist Manuela Weichenrieder states: "These songs are an unbelievable emotional challenge." Using the full power of their respective instruments, this group more than meets the challenge.The first piece, a jingele, a mejdele (a boy and a girl), presents Manuela in an unaccompanied solo. As mentioned earlier, her voice is an instrument in its own right. The absence of any reverb puts her voice directly in your presence. And what a presence! Her alto voice is amazing clear and very powerful. Our entrance to this ghetto world is not the pain of isolation and rejection, but rather the joy of life through the joining of a boy and a girl. As the program notes explain, this song is "a fairly straightforward song: a boy and a girl, they've found each other, so let's all dance, parents and children, old and young!"Un a jingele wet sej firn (and a boy will be leader) begins with the wail of Ludger Schmidt's cello with Ralf Kaupenjohann moments later adding full chords double forte. You immediately realize that this collection of traditional songs will not be constrained by any traditional settings. The passion of the introduction gives way to a subdued cello plucking a counterpoint to the lyrics sung by Manuela. The accordion then re-enters playing pianissimo tonal clusters using the piccolo reeds. These clusters work their way down the keyboard and then blend with the alto voice and the cello. The passion of the introduction is restated and then we return to the subdued lyric section. The return, however, brings the accordion back playing new thematic material--a motif that is light and childlike. This song is based on Prophet Isaiah's claim that "there will come a time when the wolf and the lamb, the leopard an the kid, the cow and the bear will live together in peace" (from the program notes). Wer der erschter wet lachn (who will laugh first) tells the story of two boys: Awremel and Schlojmele. Awremel bets that he can make Schlojmele laugh. Schlojmele has no reason to laugh. He is hungry, his father is unemployed, the rabbi is a harsh teacher. Awremel persists and wins. The piece begins as a duet between voice and cello with cello providing counterpoint. The accordion then joins providing a rhythmic background to the continued interplay of voice and cello. The trio is followed by a jazz duet played by the accordion and cello. The cello provided a "walking bass" with the accordion improvising on the melody. Manuela then re-enters with the lyrics with support from a playful cello and and rhythmic pulse of the accordion. Another jazz duet appears--this time we have the bowed cello improvising while the accordion provides the rhythmic and harmonic background. The trio then returns to end this delightfully playful piece--a piece that provides a wonderful interplay of jazz and folk.Oifn pripetschik (by the fireplace): the warmth of the fireplace; the teaching of the rabbi. The rabbi teaches the children those lessons that will give them strength to meet the harsh future ahead of them. The accordion opens this selection joined by voice and cello. An un metered section gives way to a light and playful 2/4 section that quickly turns into a 3/4 waltz effect. This then gives way to an accordion-cello duet that takes the piece into a bizarre world. The duet begins with a "Satie-esque" theme and then morphs into a rather macabre waltz theme which ends with a glissando in the cello. The meter dissolves as Manuela returns us to the lesson and a reprise of the opening section. Light and dark, lightness and heaviness are effective combined.Awremele un josele (i.e little Abraham and little Joseph) gives us a story about skipping school. Josele wants to skip, but Awremele is pious and does not want to miss any instruction. The two debate the issue and then part their ways: Awremele to school and Josele to the fields. This piece has a swing feel to it. Manuela is supported by a walking "bass" on the cello with the accordion once again providing the harmony and rhythm. Manuela's beautifully clear voice is in the foreground. This piece mixes meters. It opens in a rather free meter and then settles into 5/4 with the cello providing a solid foundation for the 5/4. In fact, what Ludger does with the cello reminds me of Dave Brubeck's piano in Take 5. The meter then changes to 6/4 as Manuela begins a playful scat in rhythmic union with the cello and accordion. We return to 5/4 with the cello repeating its previous motif and the accordion in the background while Manuela continues her scat. The accordion then picks up the cello's motif while Ludger presents a wonderful improvisation on bowed cello. They then return to the 6/4 unified voice, cello, and accordion and finally leave meter behind returning to a short reprise of the initial theme. In a word, this piece is brilliant!Kinderjorn (childhood years). An old man looks back on his life. The carefree days of youth are gone. Sadness and melancholy have taken their place. The accordion begins this piece with a simple and recurring motif in a very measured 4/4 that sets the stage for the old man's monochromatic life. Manuela then tells the sad story. An accordion solo interlude follows using a very simple bass line (no chords) and a simple and forlorn melody based on a variation of the main melody. The piece ends with a lone whistler who fades into the distance. The cello remains silent throughout the piece.Schmidt handling his cello like a guitar sets the stage for a flamingo-esque flavor in Unter di grinike bojmelech (beneath the green trees)--a song of children playing in innocence. With the cello providing the rhythmic pulse, accordion and voice trade flights of fantasy. This fanciful piece gives way to Jisrolek--a tale of a tradesman in the ghetto who struggles to eke out a living while hungry, lonely, and sad. All that remains is his pride. We are introduced to this tale by a plaintive call from the cello in a klezmer style. Manuela follows reciting a portion of the story and then breaks into the song. Ensemble Draj uses several different styles in this one piece not the least is a very impressive jazz duet between the cello and accordion. As in earlier pieces, several different meters are used in order to bring this "drama" to life. Papir is doch wajss (but paper is white) takes us back to the Renaissance. Papir is a story of young love ("just as paper is white and ink is black, my heart is yours alone"). The voice, cello, and accordion work in independent lines creating delightful polyphony reminiscent of music from the Renaissance. Schlof, majn feijgele (sleep, my little bird) begins as a slow and melancholy duet between cello and accordion and then breaks into a rather raucous dance with the entry of Manuela. Before a reprise of a jingele, a mejdele (this time with Ludger and Ralf joining Manuela), Ensemble Draj gives us ballade funm hajsl (the ballad of a cottage)--a sad story of lose. A father lives with his daughter in the deep woods near a lake. The daughter sees her reflection in the water, reaches for it, and drowns. Alternating between solo voice, duets, and trio we enter the drama of the drowned daughter. The piece ends with an eerie feel as the accordion plays clusters using the upper treble piccolo reeds and Manuela intones the last phrases of the story. As with earlier pieces, Ensemble Draj make effective use of meter to present the story. In should be noted that in the last piece, a jingele, a mejdele, Ludger and Ralf break into a very impressive jazz improvisation which temporary breaks completely with the melody and then abruptly and effortlessly returns to the main theme. Thus the album ends very playfully -- one could say ecstatically!I find this CD captivating. The level of musicianship is outstanding. Ensemble Draj have very creatively and effectively blended several different styles to tell stories that reflect the struggle and joy of life that is forced to live within predetermined boundaries. Kaupenjohann and Schmidt have done some excellent work arranging these pieces. The effective way that Ensemble Draj combines styles reminds me of The Tin Hat Trio--another small ensemble that includes accordion and that experiments with multiple styles. The only criticism that I have does not regard the music, but rather the marketing. The CD that I received did not have an English translation for the program notes and lyrics. While there is a short English synopsis for each piece, I would have preferred to read a translation of the lyrics. I found the program notes for the album on the Internet through a Google search and I had Google do its quite literal translation. Although the Google translation gave me the overall sense of the notes, I would prefer to have a good English translation provided.
Shona Holmes
Feb., 27, 2007
Shona Holmes - Accordionist/Conductor/Teacher
Shona Holmes  ABCA(TD) LBCA
 
Born in 1963 she began accordion lessons at the age of 9 years thanks to the encouragement of her accordionist mother Aileen Holmes (formerly Shand) who played in Scottish Dance Bands in Aberdeen in the 1950’s. Living in Harwich, Essex studied under Pearl Watson ABCA(TD) from 1973-1988.  During that time Shona won many prizes at National and Regional Competitions, becoming runner-up at the "Accordion Times Festival" in Leicester in 1985, as well as at the NAO UK Championships (Advanced Solo) in 1984,1986 & 1987.  With her duet partner Susan Gosling they became the UK Premier Duet Champions in 1986.

Shona worked her way through all the grades of the British College of Accordionists - Practical, Theory & Duet Exams and followed these up with the Associate and Licentiate Diplomas in 1986. 

The same year she was invited onto the Teachers Advisory Council of the British College of Accordionists and the Board of Governors of the National Accordion Organisation. From 1988-1993 Shona held various posts within the NAO Executive including Festival Headquarters and Trophy Manager.

One of her main loves is orchestral playing and joined her first orchestra the "Pearl Foote Accordion Orchestra Junior Band "  in 1973 and quickly progressed to the Senior Band in 1975. When Shona moved from Harwich to Watford she was invited to become the Leader of the East Surrey Accordion Society in 1989-1993 under the Baton of Graham Romani.

Shona formed her own music school in 1990, " Watford Accordion School " (formerly Holmes-Bodell Musicians) and since that time has guided many of her pupils successfully through preparation for competitions, examinations & concerts.
Shona has been the local representative of the "British College of Accordionists" since 1991 and organises the examinations for the Watford Centre.

Shona now concentrates her time in juggling family life with running "Watford Accordion School & Band" and also findstime to perform in a barndance & ceilidh band.
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