Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Anthony Bukoski

"Has there ever been a show like this in Superior--a mixture of musical, academic, and literary performance?" commented Anthony Bukoski, noted and beloved author, after the evening he spent reading "Jalousie" from his book Children of Strangers. The theme of his story centers around the music of tangos, Gardel as a significant composer and interpreter of the genre, and Gade's piece of that title.
Anthony Bukoski

Prof. Jeanette Pucheu of UW/S spoke about the history of tango and life in Buenos Aires, where she lived for some years.

Carolyn Carver, violinist for the Duluth-Superior Symphony Orchestra, and I on accordion played tangos between segments of the program.  Jalousie, Por Una Cabeza, La Cumparsita, La Violatera,  Tango of Roses, and Piazzolla's Libertango drew applause that would not cease until long after the stage was empty.

The informality of the soiree and the personability of the speakers drew interesting comments and questions from audience members, some who had traveled for hours to attend. Enthusiastic and grateful comments for this free, open-to-the-public event spurs us to consider repeating it here at the museum or at another venue. It was a memorable evening.

Bukoski also suggested that another program might focus on "Seafarers." I can hardly wait!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Willard Palmer Legacy

A World of Accordions Museum announces with pride and great pleasure the January 31, 2013, opening of our new display: “The Willard Palmer Legacy.” Located in the Duane Sellman Special Exhibits Area of the Hanni Strahl Concert Hall, this exhibit spotlights a man whose accomplishments are unequaled in the accordion world and whose influence touches virtually every American accordionist.
Each of the five major displays already present in this area represent compilations located throughout the museum:  Charles Magnante’s Musical Estate, the Hugo Herrmann Collection, Pietro Frosini Collection, the Deiro Brothers Performance Accordions, and Great Russian Bayanists.

Focal center of the Palmer display is his last accordion, the Titano Emperor V. This piano accordion is a double converter with sustaining pedal basses, of which only a few were constructed.

Instrumental in the acquisition is Willard Palmer, III, who plans to attend this 96th anniversary of his father’s birthday.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Multi-Grand Excelsior Piano Accordion

Happy day!  I just unpacked the mid-1930s “Multi-Grand” Excelsior piano accordion that becomes the first instrument to highlight the museum’s American Accordionists’ Association Archival Room displays.

Owned by Anthony DePodesta, deceased, the accordion was accompanied by his fabulous 2 ½’ brass trophy won in the AAA “Open Competition” category of 1941, a copy of his published composition “Rhapsodic Moments” (1940), and an article about his accomplishments printed in “The Craftsman” (1941). These items were generously donated by the DePodesta family of Michigan.

 Anthony taught himself to play accordion after being inspired by an amateur show contestant, was spurred on through an AAA competition, and went on to become a professional player and teacher.

Just think what it meant for the young trade-school graduate of 1937 to purchase this $1,000 accordion while working in tools and dies at the Ford Motor Co. Its excellent condition proves the respect ascribed to the instrument and to the technologies that made applied artistry possible.

I have heard many similar stories exemplifying talent, motivation and achievement, encouraged at just the right moments by recognition. This display stands in honor of the role of festivals and competitions that often direct the course of participants’ lives.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

BBC tapes at A World of Accordions Museum

On July 27, the British Broadcasting Corporation’s nine-person crew videotaped a segment of their series “All Over the Place USA” at Harrington ARTS Center’s A World of Accordions Museum, 1401 Belknap St., Superior, WI. Researcher Laura-Jane Chalmers, in planning phases with museum curator Helmi Harrington since May, said the segment would be repeatedly broadcast throughout the British Isles from January through April of 2013 as part of a series of twelve programs.

“All Over the Place USA” is an informational program intended for pre-teens. Directors Alastair Maclean and Craig Duncan devised the light-hearted script delivered by presenters Michelle Ackorley and Ed Petrie, occasionally including Harrington speaking and playing accordions. Cameraman Gerard Evans, soundman Nat Reid, and props manager Kieran McDavid were constantly active throughout the six-hour taping session. Producer Maria Stewart said editing would result in about four minutes air-time.

The museum had put pieces from its Scottish exhibit on a welcoming table covered with refreshments. Several items were discussed that will help in further development of the museum’s Scottish display.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Finnish Accordion

I had long rested an envious eye on the Finnish accordion Osakeyhtio Harmonikka, model Kouvo Suomi, when Jim Eisenschenk (MN) made its acquisition possible. It now stands in our Finland display alongside artifacts, various music books, recordings of Viola Turpeinen, Karl Jularbo, Veikko Ahvenainen, and historic recordings remastered by Toivo Tamminen, an occasional visitor to the museum.

In the 1930s, six accordion makers are known to have been active in Finland. Among them during the years 1932-1995, Osakeyhtio Harmonikka was located near the city of Kouvola, Finland. It was organized by Aarne Koski (accordion builder since 1915), his brother Väinö Koski and wood craftsman Taavi Kaplas as a subsidiary of Harmonikka Oy (Accordion, Inc.). In 1986, both companies joined Lasse Pihlajamaa Oy, under management of Erkki Järvenpää.

The factory’s most popular model, Kouvola Casotto, renowned throughout Scandinavian countries, ironically led to the company’s closing in 1995. It is said that the Kouvola accordions were so well made that minimal demand for new instruments weakened the company’s viability.  In the last year of operation, the factory sold only 50 instruments for ca. 40,000 Finn-Marks each (then ca. $7,000).

When it closed (under director Jouko Koski), its six skilled workers had been employed there for decades. It was the last of its kind in northern Scandinavian lands. Today there are no makers, but warehoused machinery at Seinäjoki awaits revival of demand for accordions made in Finland.