Accordions Genres

Accordion in Traditional Music

From the moment of its birth the accordion started to conquer Europe, later spreading around the world.

Except for a brief moment in time during the 1830s and 1840s when the accordion was heard by French aristocracy during Salon music concerts, the instrument has always been associated with common people.

The new instrument's popularity among the common masses was a result of its unique qualities.

Firstly, it was much louder than all the older folk instruments put together. It could easily be heard in even the wildest pub above the stomping of dancing feet.

It was also the prototype of a 'one man band' with bass and chords on the left-hand side and buttons for the melody on the right, and you could still sing along and beat the rhythm with your feet.

The instrument needed no tuning and was always ready to play.

Its popularity spread throughout the world, in no small measure due to the polka craze. Polka is an energetic dance originating in Bohemia (the modern Czech Republic) in the mid-19th-century.

The accordion is a traditional instrument in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is the dominant instrument used in sevdalinka, a traditional genre of folk music from Bosnia-Herzegovina. It is also considered a national instrument of the country.

The accordion was sweeping the world alongside European immigration of the late 19th – early 20th centuries.

In the 1950s, Latin America discovered the piano accordion. Today the accordion is widely used in Brazil. Compared to many other countries, in Brazil the instrument enjoys high popularity in mainstream pop music. In some parts of the country, such as the North-East it is the most popular melodic instrument.

The piano accordion is used in almost all styles of Forró (a Brazilian twosome) as principal instrument, Luiz Gonzaga (the King of the Baião) and Dominguinhos being among the notable musicians in this style.

Accordionists are also quite fond of tango pieces. And there is no other place on earth where tango is more popular than it is in Argentina. The famous composer Ástor Piazzolla spent his whole life developing tango and brought world recognition to Argentina as the birthplace of the dance.

The accordion is also a traditional instrument in Colombia, commonly associated with the vallenato and cumbia genres. The legend of the accordion's arrival in Colombia comes from a story of a shipwreck that was coming from Germany to Argentina. The wreck happened over the Magdalena river in the Atlantic coast.

In the 1870s, the accordion came to Russia and rapidly won people’s hearts. Today the bayan is considered to be an integral part of the Russian folk art.

  • Sevdalinka (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
    Sevdalinka (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
    Emir Dedich - Mislio Sam Svaki Dan
  • Polka (Czech Republic)
    Polka (Czech Republic)

Accordion in Classic Music

Although best known as a folk instrument, it has grown in popularity among classical composers. The earliest surviving concert piece is Thême varié très brillant pour accordéon methode Reisner, written in 1836 by Miss Louise Reisner of Paris.

Other composers, including the Russian Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, the Italian Umberto Giordano, and the American Charles Ives (1915), wrote works for the diatonic button accordion. The first composer to write specifically for the chromatic accordion was Paul Hindemith. In 1922, the Austrian Alban Berg included an accordion in Wozzeck, Op. 7. Other notable composers have written for the accordion during the first half of the 20th century. American composer William P. Perry featured the accordion in his orchestral suite Six Title Themes in Search of a Movie (2008). The experimental composer Howard Skempton began his musical career as an accordionist, and has written numerous solo works for it.

  • Classical music (Russia)
    Classical music (Russia)
    Pyotr Tchaikovsky - Suite No.2 in C major, Op.53
  • Classical music (USA)
    Classical music (USA)
    David Diamond - Night Music for Accordion and String Quartet

Accordion in pop-music

The accordion appeared in popular music from the 1900s-1960s. This half century is often called the "Golden Age of the Accordion". Three players, Pietro Frosini and the two brothers Count Guido Deiro and Pietro Deiro, were major influences at this time.

Most Vaudeville theaters closed during the Great Depression, but accordionists during the 1930s-1950s taught and performed for radio. During the 1950s through the 1980s, the accordion received great exposure on television with performances by Myron Floren on The Lawrence Welk Show. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the accordion declined in popularity.

Today it is considered exotic or old-fashioned to include the accordion in pop-music, especially in music for advertisements.

  • Pop-music (USA)
    Pop-music (USA)
    Myron Floren – Disco Accordion
  • Pop-music (Italy)
    Pop-music (Italy)
    Guido Deiro – Deiro Rag