Al Mermelstein and his students taking lessons in Midlothian, Virginia
Popularity of the Accordion:
Accordions are the number one instrument in most countries today as they have been for many years. Accordions were also number one right here in the United States until the advent of rock 'n roll when guitars reign supreme and replaced Accordions as the number one instrument. During this time most other instruments lost popularity to the newly popular Guitar.
Accordions are continually making inroads in popular music and could be found in many bands like: Billy Joel, The Beatles, Neil Diamond, The Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, U2, Bruce Springsteen, and Paul McCartney to name a few.
Accordions have had a presence in the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of London, etc.
Music has been composed for Accordions by such composers as: Tchaikovsky, Berg and Nightingale.
General History of the Accordion:
Accordions have had many different spellings and names such as:
Accordion, Accordian, Accordeon, Akkoreon, Fisharmonica.
However, Accordion is the most accepted spelling.
1777 – China Chang introduce the idea of free vibrating reeds.
1821 – Haeckel in Vienna and Bushman in Germany invented a mouth blown version.
1828 – Handaeoline had Bellows by Christian Bushman.
1830 – Cyrillus Damien added cords and a base and it became patented as an accordion.
1833 - Mathias Horner is considered the Henry Ford of the Accordion.
1850 – The Accordion became chromatic by Wheatstone in New England, which allowed the same note to be played in either direction of the bellows.
1859 – A keyboard was added to the Accordion.
1863 - Ivory keyboards are added to the Accordion.
20th century saw many developments like five sets of reeds to the treble side.
Electronics were added by World War II. Some were wired so they could be played through an electric organ.
After the war, Accordions had their own electronics, generation, amplifier and speaker set up.
Most recently, the application of the midi was added to conventional Accordions.
There are Accordions today that are digital and don't have any reeds as the sounds of many instruments and different types of Accordions are digitally recreated.
Although, most Accordions have been and still are manufactured in Italy, many are made in Germany, China, Russia, and many other countries. Some, like the Pancordion (popular as seen on the Lawrence Welk Show) are manufactured in Italy but are then assembled right here in Northern Virginia. Hohner has a location here in Ashland, Virginia.