Accordion History
Accordion History


Where it all began

Between 1750 and 1850 the population in Europe almost doubled to 255 million people. Consequently, people in the industrial regions became poorer. In Germany, for example, between 1841 and 1913 over six million Germans emigrated to avoid poverty. Similar emigration happened from much of Europe and Great Britain. Many sought fortune in Amerca, and some took their instruments with them - mostly harmonikas which reminded them of their homeland.

After a time, people began to ask their relatives to send them accordions, and soon after manufacturers began receiving orders from around the world. Sales representatives also began to set up business in North and South America and the Asia Pacific regions. They received orders as they were known and trusted by their relatives back at home.

Manufacturing Growth

Some accordion manufacturers also emigrated. Amongst them were brothers Carl and Wilhelm Zimmerman of Castlefidardo. They founded an accordion factory in Philadelphia. In a few years Carl went to Latin America and went missing. In 1864, the firm in Castlefidardo was taken over by Ernst Louis Arnolds and developed into a leading accordion manufacturer. They became large exporters. In those days, harmonikas were one of the few products sold worldwide. In 1860 Arnold's company produced 218,400 accordions and export continued to grow.

Soon manufacturers in Amsterdam, Antwerp, Bremen, and Rotterdam began to export their accordions to the American chain stores. By advertising in catalogues they were sold throughout North America, but the biggest export market for accordions was in Latin America.

Many Europeans migrated to Latin America and consequently, accordions were distributed in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Guatemala, Uruguay, Columbia and Equador. Colonisation by European powers was also responsible for the spread of the accordion, from Germany to America, Africa, China, the Pacific, and the Carribean.

The accordion was originally a reminder for the migrants of their former homelands, but evolved into a very popular instrument in these countries, often with its own unique style. Whether the accordion became part of the Cajun or Zydeco music of the southern states of the USA or the Brazilian tangos it started off as a reminder of what was once home.
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