How Italian Accordions have evolved over the years




Italian accordion

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Italian accordion Inventors and Pioneers

The Accordion, a beloved musical instrument that has been delighting ears since the 19th century, was likely born in Germany but perfected by Italian artisans. It is believed that this dynamic sound system first came to Italy through French soldiers during the unification of Europe’s boot-shaped country – although you could call it an act of fate.

During the late 19th century, Stradella and Vercelli in Lombardy and Piedmont were bustling hubs of production which would be integral to future developments in instrumentation. Chief among these pioneers was Mariano Dallape’, a craftsman from Trento who revitalized Buton’s piano accordion invention of 1852 during his time at Stradella beginning in 1876.

Giuseppe Verdi’s impassioned advocacy for the accordion in Italy bore remarkable fruit during these years, as its success and popularity soared. So great was his confidence that he proposed introducing it to the Italian conservatory – setting a new standard of music education at the time.

Italian accordion reed maker at work

During the 1800s, accordions saw a surge of remarkable innovations with artisans improving on existing designs. Mattia Berardi and the Ranco family from Vercelli improved button model accordions while Rosario Spadaro registered copyright for an exclusive free-bass design.

Pasquale Ficosecco pioneered box style models in Loreto before transferring his work to Castelfidardo where Ercole Maga and Renato Massoni crafted their products at Dallape’s workshop in Stradella.

Modern Innovation and Evolving Style

Three more innovators join the illustrious ranks of Castelfidardo, Giacomo Antonio Busilacchio, Dario Dari and Francesco Serenelli. This is a town steeped in music heritage that has seen countless virtuoso’s discover their passion for sound beginning with the Fisarmonica accordion – an exceptional instrument born out of this unique place on Earth. To learn even more about its remarkable history, watch this video

Video courtesy of Great Big Story

Most popular Italian accordion brands

We can’t talk about Italian accordions and the Castelfidardo region without enumerating at least 20 most popular accordion brands that came out of its factories and are played throughout the world by some of the most famous virtuosos of the piano squeezebox. Here are the brand names: Beltuna, Fismen, Scandalli, Dino Baffetti,Siwa&Figli,Paolo Soprani,Piermaria,Borsini,Bugari Armando,Excelsor,Zero Sette,Piatanesi,Fantini,Brandoni&Sons,Pigini,Vignoni,Fratelli Alessandrini,Victoria,Mengascini.

Take a listen to this wonderful podcast about Italian accordion makers and Castelfidardo by NPR.

Castelfidardo accordion makers by National Public Radio

Italian accordions in the North Americas

The Italian accordion legacy continues to remain strong in America, thanks to the revered craftsmanship of original immigrant artisans from Italy. The Italo-American accordions they crafted retain classic design features and distinguished bass & register arrangements that have become a trademark for these models today. Most are piano style, but many button versions are still available too.

During the post-WWII era, Castelfidardo was a hub of accordion production. Longtime family business Settimio Soprani partnered with F.lli Scandalli from Camerano to create Farfisa – among several other vast mergers that would come to define the decades following conflict’s end.

Even New York based Excelsior opened up shop in this small Italian town by beginning their own line of productions there as well! This newfound influx gave rise not only an abundance of new industry competition but also imaginative company names evoking Hollywood cinema;

Italian-American piano accordions

Paramount Accordions and Universal were two such examples now synonymous with acclaimed excellence within instrument craftsmanship worldwide.

Marconi Street is even known fondly around these parts for having originally been christened ‘Dollar Street’ due its many affluent directors residing here at one time or another during those golden times past!

Italian accordionists and accordion makers had their studios and shops in almost every major city in America in the early 1900s but the most influential ones were in Chicago and New York.

Courtesy of Petosa Accordions USA

4 responses to “How Italian Accordions have evolved over the years”

  1. Pat Fries Avatar
    Pat Fries

    I have a 1952 Cantino accordion. Who as the manufacturer?

    1. Dino Rossi Avatar

      Thanks for writing. I believe the Cantino brand was named after Dick Contino who was a featured artist of the Settimio Soprani company. These were Italian made student models from the 1960s and worth $100 to $300 depending on the condition.

  2. Trautman Andrew Avatar
    Trautman Andrew

    I have a Stanelli Milano accordion that says it was made in Minerva Italy. I can’t find any information on the brand or manufacturer. It’s post WWII maybe 1960’s?

    1. Dino Rossi Avatar

      That is interesting. Let me ask my friend about Stanelli’s origins.

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