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The origin of the accordion is contested by several countries. Who invented the accordion? Where did the accordion originate?
The accordion is one of several European inventions of the early 19th century that use free reeds driven by bellows.
The most basic form of the accordion originated in Europe in the early 1820s. It was one of several European inventions of the 1800s that used free reeds controlled by bellows.
The inventor of this accordion is said to be German musical instrument maker Christian Friedrich Ludwig Buschmann in 1822.
The accordion was first patented in 1829 by Cyrill Demian, of Armenian origin, in Vienna.
Russian researchers have claimed they invented the accordion around the same time; however, evidence for this is inadequate.
Read on to learn more about the origin of the accordion, including when it was invented, where it was invented, and who invented it.
Also, for an excellent entry-level accordion, take a look at the Hohner Panther G/C/F 3-Row Diatonic Accordion. It’s reasonably priced, is lightweight, has a great sound, and is great for beginners.
Click here to see this Hohner accordion on Amazon.
Where Did the Accordion Originate? Who Invented the Accordion?
The most basic form of accordion originated in Europe in the early 1820s. It was one of several European inventions of the 1800s that used free reeds controlled by bellows.
The majority consensus is that the inventor was German musical instrument maker Christian Friedrich Ludwig Buschmann in 1822.
There is more evidence of this than all other claims. In his well-documented family history, Buschmann mentioned the musical instruments he invented. One of them had features like that of the accordion.
The accordion was first patented in 1829 by Cyrill Demian, of Armenian origin, in Vienna.
According to Russian researchers, the accordion inventor was businessman Timofey Vorontsov. Vorontsov built the first-ever accordion manufacturing facility in Russia. A decade later, businessman Ivan Sizov built his own accordion manufacturing plant too. By the 1840s, Russia was producing a total of 10,000 accordions on a yearly basis.
By the 1860s, new manufacturers of accordions emerged in Russia. After a decade, the country was already producing more than 700,000 accordions per year. Thus, the accordion was once the most popular musical instrument among Russians.
Russian researchers may be correct to assert that accordions originated from their country. But the fact that it was popular in Russia in the 1800s doesn’t officially confirm this. Besides, Sizov acquired his first accordion from Germany. It was his inspiration to create his own version. Thus, it’s possible that the accordion indeed originated in Berlin.
Interestingly, the official documentation of the accordion occurred in neither Germany nor Russia. Instead, it was in Vienna, Austria, in 1829. This was when Armenian inventor Cyrill Demian acquired its first patent.
With Demian’s invention, the left hand only operated the buttonboard. Whereas, the right hand only operated the bellows. His accordion could play an entire chord by depressing a single key. It made it unique from the other accordions during that time. This made him realize he should get it patented.
Another reason for getting a patent was that his accordion could play two different chords at the same time by depressing one key only. The direction of the bellows made it all possible. It also featured bass and treble sections. At that time, musicians described his invention as the most improved version of the accordion.
Russia and Austria were the pioneers of big accordion manufacturing facilities. But it was Germany that brought the accordion to other countries. In 1828, the Germans launched it in Great Britain. Then, in 1831, “The Times” newspaper featured it as the latest musical instrument in the country.
In the beginning, the British audience didn’t receive it well. But “The Times” publication greatly contributed to its popularity. Soon, the accordion reached the United States. By the mid-1840s, it became a popular instrument in New York.
In essence, Germany played a vital role in the success of the accordion business. Many musical instrument makers seemed to draw inspiration from German accordions. It is for these reasons that most musical historians would answer Germany when asked where did accordions come from.
The Popularity of Accordions
We’ve now looked at where accordions originated. Now I want to look at the popularity of the accordion across different countries to see how its use has spread around the world.
It was in the 1830s when the accordion instrument appeared in music for the very first time. This occurred in Australia when the accordion started competing against other reed instruments. Among the popular instruments at that time were melodeon, concertina, and mouth organ.
One of the first known accordion composers was Australian Frank Fracchia. Among his works were the following:
- Dancing With You; and
- My Dear, Can You Come Out Tonight?
Australian libraries keep the original copy of these works.
Australian composer Reginald Stoneham also had a great contribution to the instrument’s popularity. He arranged music for the accordion. He became popular for his jazz and ragtime musical styles.
In Australia, the accordion was the favorite instrument of buskers. Its popularity was at its peak between the 1930s and 1950s.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
If you ask people in Bosnia and Herzegovina where did accordions originate or who invented the accordion, many would likely answer Bosnia and Herzegovina. This is understandable because the accordion is their national instrument.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the accordion is widely used in sevdalinka performances. Sevdalinka is a folk music genre that originated from this country.
The accordion had a huge role in the history of Brazilian music. Try to ask Brazilians where did accordions come from, and many would most likely say that it originated from their country. When in fact, Germans and Italians introduced it to them. This transpired when some Europeans migrated to Brazil.
Most European immigrants settled in Parana, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul. The first type of accordion introduced in Brazil was the concertina. It was a chromatic accordion featuring 120 buttons. It was in the 1950s when its fame was at its peak.
A chromatic accordion, which I’ll go into more detail later, is a type of button accordion where the melody-side keyboard is made up of rows of buttons arranged in a chromatic fashion. Entry-level chromatic accordions usually only have 46 buttons arranged chromatically.
It’s true that the accordion didn’t originate from Brazil. But Rio Grande do Sul recognized it as the state’s official symbol instrument. In fact, almost a hundred accordion manufacturing facilities opened in Brazil. Most of them were in Rio Grande do Sul.
One of the most famous manufacturers was Acordeões Todeschini. It was in Bento Gonçalves, Rio Grande do Sul. The business closed in 1973. But, up until now, the popularity of Todeschini accordions continues. In fact, there are still Todeschini accordions that exist. A few musical instrument shops are still willing to provide their maintenance services.
There are many notable accordionists from Brazil. Some of the most famous accordion players include Edson Dutra, Albino Manique, and Renato Borghetti.
In some countries, the accordion forms part of traditional folk music. But in Brazil, it even forms part of pop music. In fact, the country regards it as the most popular melodic instrument.
In Forró events, the principal musical instrument is the piano accordion. The notable piano accordionists from northeast Brazil include the Dominguinhos and Luiz Gonzaga. Their musical style is usually accompanied by other musical instruments. Among these are the zabumba and the triangle. Now, this musical style is also popular in southeast Brazil.
In southeast and midwest Brazil, the accordion is always a part of various music styles. These include the Sertanejo and Caipira music. Now, the entire country has adopted it.
Perhaps, you’d want to ask Colombians too if they know the origin of the accordion or who invented it. Again, many would misperceive their country as its place of origin. This is because the accordion also forms part of their traditional music. It usually forms part of the cumbia and vallenato music genres.
However, it’s interesting how Colombians play the accordion with versatility. They’re comfortable in incorporating the instrument in different music genres. For instance, tropipop musicians feature the accordion in the music. Some of the notable accordion players who do are Bacilos, Fonseca, and Carlos Vives.
The rock music genre features the accordion too. In fact, Juanes is one of these rock musicians. In pop music, Shakira is one of the musicians who feature the accordion.
Aside from all these, Colombians also hold competitions for accordionists. A well-known contest is the one at the Vallenato Legend Festival. Colombians hold this festival, called the Cradle of Accordions festival, on an annual basis.
Also, the festival conducts a major competition every decade. In which case, the contestants are the winners for the last ten years. Indeed, the Vallenato Legend Festival conducts the largest competition for accordionists worldwide.
The accordion forms part of several music genres in Mexico. Under the cumbia genre, musician Celso Piña made it popular. Under the norteño genre, musician Ramón Ayala contributed to its popularity. In fact, Mexico regards Ayala as its King of the Accordion.
Mexican musician Julieta Venegas features the accordion in her music. Her versatility allows the incorporation of the instrument in different genres. These include folk, pop, and rock music. Her inspiration was the Los Lobos, a band that also incorporates the instrument in their music.
North Koreans regard the accordion as “the people’s instrument.” In fact, there was a time when teachers in this country were all required to learn the instrument.
The book “Nothing to Envy,” by Barbara Demick, takes note of this fact.
Types of Accordions
It’s not enough that we only talk about where accordions originated from. Let’s also discuss the different types of accordions. They include the following:
- The Piano Accordion
- The Button Accordion
- The Unisonoric Accordion
- The Bisonoric Accordion
- The Diatonic Accordion
- The Chromatic Accordion
Piano and the Button Accordions
All accordions feature a buttonboard on the left side. But not all accordions have a buttonboard on the right side.
In the case of the Button Accordion, both the left and the right sides have buttons. This means that even the treble side — which is the right side — features a button board.
In the case of the Piano Accordion, the treble side features piano keys. That way, your right-hand moves as if you’re playing the piano. Whereas, your left hand operates the chords by depressing buttons.
The TV show, “The Lawrence Welk Show,” also contributed to the success of the Piano Accordion. Its host, Lawrence Welk, was an accordionist. He and the Diero Brothers opened an opportunity for other musicians. Musicians realized that they too could play this instrument. Most of them were, of course, pianists and keyboardists.
The Piano Accordion became well accepted in the U.S. because of Welk and the Diero Brothers. In fact, the country recognized it as the most famous type of accordion in the 20th century.
The Hohner Panther G/C/F 3-Row Diatonic Accordion is an example of a popular entry-level diatonic button accordion. It’s reasonably priced, is lightweight, and has a great sound.
Click here to see this Hohner accordion on Amazon.
Unisonoric and the Bisonoric Accordions
The terms “unisonoric” and “bisonoric” describe how the bellows produce pitches and notes. In essence, sound production results from the direction of the bellows. Also, it results from how the air moves through the reeds.
Try playing a unisonoric accordion. Move the bellows in any direction while depressing one key. Observe how the sound it creates doesn’t change its pitch.
Then, try doing it too using a Bisonoric Accordion. Try to push in and pull out the bellows while you depress a key. Notice how the pitch changes as you continue to do this.
Diatonic and the Chromatic Accordions
In essence, the Button Accordions have two types. They are:
- Diatonic Accordion; and the
- Chromatic Accordion.
In the case of the Diatonic Button Accordion, it has three rows of buttons or less. In most cases, it’s available in the Bisonoric model. That way, it can produce different sounds even if it only has a few buttons. But for musical performances, the sound it produces isn’t enough. There are keys that are impossible to reach by the Diatonic Accordion alone. You will need other musical instruments to go with it.
In the case of the Chromatic Button Accordion, it features as many as five rows of buttons. Unlike the Diatonic type, this one’s available in Unisonoric in most cases. This means each key produces a single pitch regardless of the direction of the bellows. Various music genres feature this type of accordion. These include the Russian bayan music and the French musette music.
There’s also a Unisonoric Chromatic Piano Accordion. In most cases, Italian and German music features this type of accordion. Musical instrument makers introduced it in the 20th century. It was a few years after they invented the Diatonic Button Accordion.
Conclusion – Who Invented the Accordion? Where Did the Accordion Originate?
The earliest known evidence of the origin of the accordion was about 200 years ago, in 1822, by German music maker Christian Friedrich Ludwig Buschmann.
Russian researchers have claimed they invented the accordion around the same time. They make this claim based on the popularity of the accordion in the 1840s and businessman Timofey Vorontsov who built the first-ever accordion manufacturing facility.
In many other countries, such as Brazil, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Columbia, and more, you will hear people say the accordion originated in their country. But the earliest known evidence was the German music maker in 1822.
The accordion has spread around the world, and it is quite amazing how it has become so beloved by so many people. It seems to become a part of a country’s national identity. Here’s to another 200 years of accordion music!
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Who invented the accordion and what is another name for it? ›
HISTORY: The accordion was invented by Friedrich Buschmann in 1822 in Berlin. He called invention the Handäoline. In 1829, Cyrillus Damian of Vienna created another version of this instrument and gave it the name of accordion because of the addition of buttons, played by the left hand, that sounded chords.Who used the accordion first? ›
The advent of the accordion is the subject of debate among researchers. Many credit C. Friedrich L. Buschmann, whose Handäoline was patented in Berlin in 1822, as the inventor of the accordion, while others give the distinction to Cyril Demian of Vienna, who patented his Accordion in 1829, thus coining the name.What is the oldest accordion? ›
But the first true accordion made its appearance in 1822, when a German instrument maker named Christian Friedrich Buschmann (1775-1832) put some expanding bellows onto a small portable keyboard, with free vibrating reeds inside the instrument itself.Where is the accordion originally from? ›
The accordion is a member of the wind musical instruments family. It was invented in Germany by Friedrich Buschmann in 1822. Since then, the instrument has made a significant impact on the world of modern and classical music.Who brought accordion to America? ›
Accordions and concertinas were introduced to Latin America in the 19th century by German immigrants.What is another name for accordion? ›
- stomach Steinway.
The accordion was eventually embraced by the Mexican American communities who were working to carve out a living for their families in a society that many times shunned them. They also began to slowly incorporate the traditional European dances, like the lively steps of the polka, into their own dance styles.Who is famous for accordion? ›
One of the famous people that plays the accordion is Lawrence Welk (1903-1992). He left school during his fourth-grade year, then decided he wanted a music career. Another one is Myron Floren (1919-2013), who became intrigued by the accordion at the age of six.What is an accordion without keys called? ›
A concertina is a free-reed musical instrument, like the various accordions and the harmonica.What are some fun facts about the accordion? ›
- The accordion originates to the 1800s. ...
- The sound emanates from both sides of the accordion. ...
- Accordions can be either diatonic or chromatic. ...
- The instrument is constructed from hundreds of components.
What are the 2 main types of accordion? ›
There are two main kinds of accordion, distinguished by their different keyboards: button accordions and piano accordions. All accordions have a button keyboard on the left-hand side for bass chords, but on the right-hand side, where the melody is played, they can have either piano or button keys.What is the most expensive accordion? ›
Pigini's most expensive accordion is at the record-high price of almost 40,000 euros. The mother-of-pearl buttons on one side of a Pigini accordion alone cost 600 euros.Who is the king of the accordion? ›
For forty years Ramón Ayala's music has captured the experience and the soul of the hard life in the Rio Grande borderlands. His name is Ramón, Ramón Ayala, el señor Ramón Ayala. They call him the King of the Accordion.How old is accordion? ›
The accordion's basic form is believed to have been invented in Berlin, in 1822, by Christian Friedrich Ludwig Buschmann, although one instrument has been recently discovered that appears to have been built earlier.How did accordion get to Mexico? ›
The accordion, introduced into Mexican culture by the Germans around the last half of the nineteenth century, had a significant and lasting impact. The poor rural Tejanos took to it quickly since it could mimic several instruments simultaneously and it was cheaper to pay one acordeonista than an orquesta.Where are accordions made in Italy? ›
Castelfidardo is the international capital of accordion builders. A variety of other musical instruments besides the accordion have been produced in the town since the 19th century, such as the armonica.Was the accordion invented in Italy? ›
The “tcheng” was the first instrument to use free reeds, the principle on which the accordion is based. The patent for the accordion was filed in Vienna in 1829 by Cyrill Demian, but it was fundamentally redesigned in Italy in the second half of the nineteenth century.Is the accordion from France? ›
HISTORY OF THE ACCORDION IN FRANCE
In the late 1800's, Italian immigrants brought the accordion with them to France, and the accordion was widely accepted, and soon was played regularly in cafes and cabarets. Felix Peguri was one of the first Italian immigrants.
Accordion History in Spain. The accordion first appeared in the 1873, the year of the proclamation of the First Republic. From 1880-1890, the first generation of accordionists came from the rural populations of the Pryenees. Locals who had worked in France brought the accordion back with them.Is the accordion an African instrument? ›
The accordion is heard in few places in sub-Saharan Africa, but in South Africa the concertina – invented in 1829 by the Englishman Charles Wheatstone under the name of the Italian manufacturer Bastari – became very popular in Zulu communities. The tribes considered it a “means of transport”!
Is there accordion in Mexican music? ›
The focus on the accordion in the music of their home countries was integrated into Mexican music, and the instrument is essential in the genre today. It was called norteño because it was most popular in the northern regions of Mexico.What instrument family is the accordion in? ›
AccordionWhat is an accordion with buttons called? ›
A melodeon or diatonic button accordion is a member of the free-reed aerophone family of musical instruments. It is a type of button accordion on which the melody-side keyboard contains one or more rows of buttons, with each row producing the notes of a single diatonic scale.What are the folds in an accordion called? ›
The accordion is a portable wind instrument consisting of two reed organs connected by a folding bellows. Expanding and contracting the bellows provides air to vibrate the reed organs producing the sounds. The piano keys on an accordion are called melody keys. The folds of an accordion are called bellows.What kind of music is the accordion mostly known for? ›
Although the accordion is best known primarily as a folk instrument, it has been used with increasing frequency by classical composers.Why do accordions have keys? ›
The accordion has free reeds on both the treble and bass sides. In modern accordions, the free reeds are generally made of tempered steel. The press of a button or key opens a valve to allow air to pass through the reed or reeds to make a sound when the bellows are pumped in or out.What does the accordion symbolize? ›
Hans's accordion represents his debt to Erik Vandenburg, the friend who saved his life, and the responsibility he feels to live because Erik didn't.What is Italian accordion music called? ›
La fisarmonica, with its uncomplicated and cheerful sound and ease of use, became the ideal instrument to counter the elitist music of previous years. The Italian accordion industry was born in Castelfidardo in the Marche region of central-eastern Italy after its introduction there most likely by French troops.Does anyone play the accordion anymore? ›
Today, the accordion is recognized as a key player in the music world, with groups such as the National Accordion Association and the American Accordionists' Association building memberships and sponsoring events across the country.What actors play the accordion? ›
Famous stars on the silver screen like Fred Astaire, Clint Eastwood, and Jimmy Stewart played the accordion in some of their best performances. Actress Elizabeth Taylor was very fond of accordions, their design appeal, and their charming sounds.
Who is the best Italian accordion player? ›
Frosini is an Italian accordion master who was famous in the United States. He was born on August 9, 1885, and owes his mastery of the instrument at having started at the age of six with the chromatic button accordion.
The origin of the Piano Accordion has always been a subjective topic. Historically inspired by the Sheng (笙), a centuries old Chinese instrument comprised of a mouthpiece, bamboo pipes, resonator box and wind chamber that created a “free vibrating” reed tone.Is it easy to learn the accordion? ›
With the visible right hand keyboard, the accordion is easy to learn with the right tuition. By learning the accordion, students learn how to organise their time for practice. They will automatically apply this skill to other aspects of their education.Do all accordions sound the same? ›
There are no tuning options for the bass (left hand side). There are no set amount of tuning options and each brand of accordion can be tuned differently. Each tuning gives a different overall sound depending on the reed arrangement in the accordion.How many parts does an accordion have? ›
The accordion has three main components: the right hand side, a piano or button keyboard; the bellows, which act like a bow; and the left hand side, which has 120 buttons. To produce sound, Ksenija says, the basic motion is to “pull and press”.How much is an accordion? ›
Expect to pay between $500 and $600 for a new beginner accordion. From a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars, the amount of keys/button, brand, and quality can all affect the price. Professional models constructed to order might cost upwards of $15,000 (USD) per unit.Why do you play the accordion? ›
By playing the accordion, you will also develop a large degree of manual dexterity and increase your hand and finger strength. Playing complicated music requires a lot of finger work in both right and left hands, and operating the bellows is an excellent exercise for the left arm.How many octaves does an accordion have? ›
The standard written right-‐hand range of the Piano Accordion is, from the top to the bottom of the keyboard, slightly more than three octaves, beginning on F3 (F just below middle C) and extending to A6, though some models have somewhat wider ranges.What is the note range of an accordion? ›
The 120 bass accordion
On the treble side 41 keys is standard, usually low F to high A. Exceptionally large instruments can have a treble range of 45 notes from low E to high C.
Most full-size accordion basses have either 120, or, less commonly, 96 buttons. All notes in an octave are covered by both systems, so you can play in any key. When playing with the bass buttons, you use all fingers but your thumb, which should stay on the board on the side of the accordion.
Did the Beatles ever use an accordion? ›
The Beatles – “We Can Work It Out” (1965)
Although Paul McCartney was the band's resident accordionist, it's John Lennon who sits in here on harmonium. Also, check out McCartney's 1991 Unplugged performance with Paul “Wix” Wickens on accordion.
The timing of the keys, buttons, and bellows must be in sync to create the intended sound. The accordion is one of the most difficult instruments to learn. Despite everything you've just read, the reward of mastering these instruments is well worth the agony of learning, so don't be put off.Are accordions from Russia? ›
The first accordions
The first hand-held accordion was made in Germany in 1822 and eight years later appeared in Russia. That same year, 1830, gunsmiths living in Tula started to make accordions.
Accordions made by reputable brands are meticulously hand-crafted with hundreds of moving parts. Quality parts, precision build, innovation, unique branding features, sound, finishing, and performance all determine the value and merit of “Top of the Line” classification.How did Mexicans get the accordion? ›
The accordion, introduced into Mexican culture by the Germans around the last half of the nineteenth century, had a significant and lasting impact. The poor rural Tejanos took to it quickly since it could mimic several instruments simultaneously and it was cheaper to pay one acordeonista than an orquesta.What is a Mexican accordion called? ›
As its names indicates, Norteño is the typical music of Northern Mexico. Conjunto Norteño Instruments. Accordians are a family of box-shaped musical instruments of the bellows-driven free-reed aerophone type, colloquially referred to as a squeezebox.Why is accordion so popular in Mexico? ›
The accordion was eventually embraced by the Mexican American communities who were working to carve out a living for their families in a society that many times shunned them. They also began to slowly incorporate the traditional European dances, like the lively steps of the polka, into their own dance styles.Is polka Polish or German? ›
The modern Polish-American favourite dance, the polka is a lively couple-dance in a moderately fast duple meter.Who is the greatest accordion player? ›
Lawrence Welk is considered to be the best accordion player to date.Who is the best Mexican accordion player? ›
Leonardo “Flaco” Jiménez
A five-time Grammy Award recipient, three of which were attributable to solo work, Jimenez is the most famous Mexican accordion player in the world. He started performing with his father at the young age of seven.
Who is the best Norteño accordion player? ›
He is now known as the father of Norteno music. He can easily be regarded as the best accordion player of genre accordion music in his era.
Castelfidardo is the international capital of accordion builders. A variety of other musical instruments besides the accordion have been produced in the town since the 19th century, such as the armonica.Are accordions Italian or French? ›
Accordions (from 19th-century German Akkordeon , from Akkord —"musical chord, concord of sounds") are a family of box-shaped musical instruments of the bellows-driven free reed aerophone type (producing sound as air flows past a reed in a frame), colloquially referred to as a squeezebox.How many types of accordions are there? ›
There are two main kinds of accordion, distinguished by their different keyboards: button accordions and piano accordions. All accordions have a button keyboard on the left-hand side for bass chords, but on the right-hand side, where the melody is played, they can have either piano or button keys.