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The Development of the Bayan

Written by: Professor Herbert Schiebenreif of Friedrich Lips Productions
Publication: Accordions Worldwide
Date: December 2007

The year 2007 celebrated the 100th birthday of the construction of the first bayan in Russia and this development was especially honored at the XVIII International Festival 'Bayan and Bayanists' which took place in the concert hall of the Gnessin Academy of Music in Moscow from December 5th to 9th.

Also celebrated was the famous master maker Y. Volkovitsh, who was responsible for some further important steps in the development of the instrument. His 80th birthday was celebrated there.

In 1907, P. Sterligov created this instrument which was so different from all other existing 'harmonikas' (so-called 'garmoshkas'). He gave this instrument the name 'bayan' according to the old Russian singer 'Boyan'. The specifications were: 55 treble buttons (4 rows), 72 basses (with preset chords, often known as "standard bass").

In 1929 Sterligov built the first bayan with single tones (bass) with a new bass meachanism that permits, by pressing a button, to switch from standard bass preset chords to single notes of many octaves. This invention considerably increased the performance of the bayan.

To the huge merit of Y. Volkovitsh, he further perfected the design and quality of the bayan to create the forerunner of the modern professional concert instrument. In 1962 he designed the first standard model 'Soloist' with tone chamber, in 1967 the 'Concert' and in 1969/1970 the 'Jupiter' (3 and 4 voices).

Thanks to the conscientious work of the Russian masters, the 'Jupiter' attained its worldwide reputation and the bayan design concept became the basis used by accordion manufacturers of professional concert instruments around the world.

Under the direction of S. M. Baranov, the best Russian masters worked on further improvements of the instrument and today, many well-known artists such as J. Vostrjelov, Mika Väyrynen, Max Bonnay, J. Sidorov, A. Sevastian, Ch. Bonnay, Elsbeth. Moser, Oleg Sharov, Angel .L. Castaño, S. Najko perform on the 'Jupiter'.
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