Henry Doktorski’s Historic Records on CD

Henry DoktorskiToday I was going through my record collection, wondering if any of my old accordion records were available on CD. Sadly, many of them have not been remastered to CD. However, in my search I discovered that accordionist Henry Doktorski has taken the time to remaster some of his historic accordion records to CD! He sells copies of the CDs from his website for $15 each plus extra for shipping, handling and (optional) insurance. He has several albums by Myron Floren and Charles Magnante, as well as others. Take a look! While the recordings are not perfect (there are unavoidable hisses and skips), this is definitely a great resource for fans of the accordion.

Flickr Find: Kids Accordion Band

1930s era kids accordion bandRock stars of tomorrow, uploaded by ’56 Mojo

As we’ve seen before, I have a soft spot for these old photos of kids accordion bands. (This one apparently dates from around 1935.) But while these bands seemed to be a dime a dozen in those days, I’d really like to see photos of modern-day kids accordion bands. Anybody know of one?

Flickr Find: Accordion vs. Boy

Boy with Accordion
uploaded by Brann
Ever have one of those days? The kind where everything drags, just getting out of bed is a chore, and when you pick up your accordion, it feels like a ton of bricks. Well, imagine how this poor kid feels. First, Mom makes him wear a tie and a pair of knickers. Then he has to stand out in the sun and pose for a photo with an accordion that’s nearly as big as he is. The grimace on his face says it all: “Hurry up and take the picture… I can’t hold this much longer…”

Accordion Inspired Architecture

As the tryptophan-induced Thanksgiving haze wears off, I thought I’d share a couple examples of accordion-inspired architecture that I’d run across recently. The first comes from Buenos Aires, where the city has just dedicated a new monument to tango music in the shape of a giant steel bandoneon. The tango has long been an integral part of Argentinian culture and this monument joins statues and plaques in Buenos Aires honoring tango legends like Carlos Gardel, Osvaldo Pugliese and Astor Piazzolla.

Bandoneon Monument in Buenos Aires

The second isn’t reality (yet), but is a design by London architect Ken Shuttleworth for a 10-story accordion-shaped building that will border Christopher Wren’s Monument to The Great Fire Of London. The building’s rooftop garden will double as a sundial, using the shadow from Wren’s Monument to indicate the time.

Accordion Building in London

My favorite piece of accordion architecture, though, is still the old San Francisco accordion school — Theodore School of Music on Union Street — with its entire second floor shaped like an accordion.

Theodore School of Music, San Francisco

WWII Veteran Remembers His Accordions

As Americans remember those who served their country on this Veterans Day, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has a feature on World War II veterans sharing their stories for a collection of oral histories called An Honor to Serve. One of the stories comes from John Martino, a veteran who brought his accordion while landing on Omaha Beach, fought his way across Europe, and eventually captured Hitler’s accordion:

“Martino ‘captured’ Hitler’s Hohner accordion when the Nazi Reich was defeated in 1945. ‘I had about 21 accordions over there… A lot of them got shot up, and this is the only one that made it home with me. This thing is history. It has to be 85, 90 years old.'”

Martino still has the accordion — a Hohner Verdi IIIB that he found in Hitler’s mountain retreat at Berchtesgaden, Germany — which will be donated to the military museum at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri.

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Country Accordion With The Carter Sisters

Further proof that the accordion has never met a genre it didn’t like: this clip of the Carter Sisters performing “My Baby Don’t Love Me No More” features sister Helen on accordion. The accordion actually has a long history in country music, dating back to “Tennessee Waltz” author Pee Wee King, Vic Willis (played with Hank Williams Sr.), and Marion Martin (played with Doc Williams’ Border Riders).

NY Times: Accordion Jokes Since 1877

Yesterday, the New York Times ended their TimesSelect program and opened up the previously subscription-only portions of their website to anyone. This means free access to all news and op-ed columns, as well as archives from 1987 to the present, and from 1851 to 1922. I love looking through old newspapers, so those early archives made me wonder: what were people writing about accordions back in the late 19th century?

Turns out that accordion jokes are nothing new. In an editorial titled “The Concertina” (August 18, 1877), the author rails against this “so-called musical instrument which is variously known as the accordion or concertina” as the “favorite instrument of the idle and depraved.” He goes on to compare its sound to the screams of a squeezed cat.

Another piece, “A Noble Act” (May 18, 1885), is a fictional account of three “public-spirited young men” who grab an “habitual and reckless accordion player” off the street and punish him by forcing him to listen to his own accordion.

“They have struck a lasting blow at the crime of accordion playing, and a service such as this can hardly be overestimated.”

Fortunately, accordion players are a resilient bunch; we survived that early resistance, the Lawrence Welk era, and Urkel from Family Matters. Like it or not, we’re here to stay!

eBay Find: Civil War-Era Flutina

FlutinaEarlier this evening, I stumbled across an interesting item on eBay: a Civil War-era flutina. Flutinas were a predecessor to the diatonic button accordion, with one or two rows of treble buttons and no basses.

Often made in France (though the name “flutina” came from the English), they’re sometimes seen in old daguerreotypes and tin-types as they were used as photographers’ studio props here in America during the mid-1800s. (They made subjects appear more cultured, even if those subjects didn’t actually play the flutina.)

The flutina in this auction appears to be in good condition, rarely played, and with all leaks repaired. Place a bid and play some tunes for the troops at your next Civil War re-enactment.

The Galanti Super Dominator

Galanti Super Dominator AccordionA few months ago, I wrote about a vintage Galanti accordion ad promoting their Super Dominator line of accordions. Recently, an Italian reader sent me a Galanti brochure from the same period (around 1950), as well as a photo of his own Super Dominator. According to the brochure:

“This sensitive musical instrument will outperform any other comparable accordion. It is the supreme achievement of the Galanti artisans… the culmination of a half-century of musical craftsmanship.”

The ads don’t lie — this was an excellent accordion and one of the world’s best during its time. (Thanks Alberto!)

Galanti Super Dominator Ad

Hohner Gola Prototype on eBay

Hohner GolaFor over fifty years, the Hohner Gola has been the top model in Hohner’s accordion line. The instrument is named for master accordion builder Giovanni Gola, who worked for Hohner from 1952 to 1972. You can’t just walk into a music store and buy a Gola, though — each instrument is hand-built and made to the specifications of its future owner.

If you can’t wait for Hohner to make you one, though, check out this auction for a one-of-a-kind “sub-octave” Hohner Gola prototype dating from 1953 (three years before the line was introduced). It comes with a letter of authenticity from the Hohner factory in Trossingen, Germany, as well as a handwritten note from Giovanni Gola himself describing the instrument. The asking price is a mere €50,000, or approximately $67,000. Cheap!

[Found via the Reyes Accordions forums]

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