In honor of the 3rd Annual World Accordion Day, I am proud to announce the Grand Opening of the Horace Lazzari website in the May Accordions USA news. Click Horace Lazzari to see the new website.
Through this website, people will learn valuable and historical information about the significant contributions that were made not only to the accordion world, but the musical world as well, by concert accordionist, Horace Lazzari.
I would like to share the chain of events which led to my recent great honor and pleasure of meeting Horace Lazzari in Walla, Walla, Washington where he presently lives with his lovely wife, Jeanette.
I would like to express my gratitude and acknowledge the assistance of Petosa Accordions for generously sponsoring my trip to Seattle and Walla, Walla, Washington. Thank you Joe Petosa!
I met Horace as a result of my research concerning my former accordion teacher, Eugene Ettore. I was working on the creation of a memorial website for him and investigating the performances of his "Manhattan Concerto". How many were there? Where and when did they take place?
Because of the trust and generosity of Eugene Ettore's daughter, Carol Asimou, my home is filled with his music, manuscripts, photos, scrapbooks, etc. In August of 2010 when looking through a scrapbook, I came across a newspaper article, concert program and letter written to Eugene Ettore by Horace Lazzari describing his performance of the "Manhattan Concerto" with the Walla, Walla Symphony Orchestra in April 1961. I immediately realized that this was a significant find!.
I decided at that very moment to call Horace. After a brief internet search, I found the phone number, called , and was very happy to "meet" Horace and Jeanette over the phone. It was amazing to learn that he performed the "Manhattan Concerto" fifty years ago and here I was, performing it with an orchestra (Roxborough Symphony Orchestra in Philadelphia) fifty years later!
We also discovered that we play the same model of accordion, the Petosa AM 1100 and gave our performances of the "Manhattan Concerto" on the same instrument! What a coincidence! Speaking with Horace and Jeanette on the phone, we became instant friends and I was invited to Walla, Walla, Washington to meet them.
In October 2010, I combined a trip to Walla, Walla with a visit to Joe Petosa at the Petosa Accordion Company. Leaving West Orange,NJ where I live, two plane flights later, I was met at the airport by Horace and Jeanette. I do not think they would mind my saying that they are both a very lively and energetic 86 year young couple. Jeanette had said to me before I left NJ. "Rita, I hope you do not mind that when we pick you up at the airport, we must go straight to Horace's gig at an Octoberfest Party, a gig he has had for more than 8 years! ".
We went to the home where the party was taking place. Horace spent the next 3 and half hours, playing nonstop for over 60 people at an outdoor party! His playing was amazing, a vast repertoire of light classics, ethnic and popular music.! He shared with me that he still enjoys practicing. His flawless techniques in performing his program accurately, clearly demonstrated his talent and dedication to practice. "There is no substitute for daily practice", Horace says.
Horace, Jeanette, and I spent a fabulous weekend of sharing music, listening to recordings, talking about his performance of the "Manhattan Concerto", and, of course, playing the accordion! Horace's talented former student, Jim Rice, an award winning accordionist, came over for dinner and the time passed quickly. I was fortunate to be trusted with many of Horace's photos and programs, soon to be online on www.accordionusa.com.
Horace is truly an inspiration not only to accordionists but all musicians! He and his lively wife, Jeanette, can show you how to live a life filled with music and friends, staying youthful and healthy. No doubt that playing the accordion keeps one young and in good shape! They extended another invitation to me and I look forward to visiting them again very soon.
There is so much that can be said about Horace and his musical accomplishments. Born on October 17, 1924 in Fort William ( Now Thunder Bay) Ontario, Canada, Horace was known as Canada's "Boy Wonder of the Accordion" by the age of nine. Lazzari has musical memories which go back to age 3 when his father, also an accordionist, introduced him to the instrument. "I have been playing my accordion for audiences ever since I can remember, " he said. He also studied with a piano teacher, Patrick Shaw, and also with Fiori Baldovin, the son of an accordion maker in Fort Williams.
During his early years, he toured and performed throughout the eastern province of Canada. On one of these tours he had the exciting experience of accompanying Kate Smith during a show. Before moving to Vancouver, B.C., he pursued his theoretical studies at the Toronto Conservatory of Music. As he grew up, Horace performed in theaters almost every week during the days when vaudeville was a part of motion picture house programs. He usually occupied the top place on the bill. He was described as "The Boy Wonder of the Accordion" and the "Canadian Elks Greatest".
Horace won a radio contest and $25.00 in prize money in Ontario in 1939. He later went on to greater fame as first place talent winner in a Horace Heidt show in Yakima in 1949.
Horace moved to Vancouver where he studied the accordion in depth with Alf Carlson, an outstanding accordion teacher who was highly recognized as an outstanding educator throughout Canada. and his friend, Leonard Wilson, Fellow of the Trinity College of Music on the faculty of the University of British Columbia. During these years, Horace gave concerts throughout the northwest and California becoming well known as a concert accordionist. He also toured briefly with the Canadian armed forces with a group of 5 entertainers performing at bases.
Horace met his wife, Jeanette, in Vancouver and were married on his birthday, Oct. 17, 1949. Horace and Jeanetter eventually moved to Walla, Walla, Washington, a college town, which had climatic conditions to meet his needs, becoming a well known resident of the community. In 1961, Lazzari who had been concertizing throughout the Northwest, was asked to perform an accordion solo with the Walla Walla and Mid-Columbia Symphony Orchestras, a first for both organizations.
Horace premiered the Pacific Northwest performance of the "Manhattan Concerto for Accordion and Orchestra"(1951) by Eugene Ettore with both orchestras. He achieved one of his goals which was to perform with a symphony. The Walla, Walla Symphony Orchestra conducted by William H. Bailey was the oldest continuous symphony west of the Mississippi. He also performed with the Mid-Columbia Symphony Orchestra of the Tri-Cities.
Horace also has been a guest artist with the local symphony playing on their Pops concert programs, Chamber concert series, and Young People's Concerts.
Horace appeared on many programs with other accordionists including Chuck Berger, Murl Sanders, Joe Morelli, and Ken Olendorf. He is a member of the American Accordionists' Association (AAA) and the Accordionists and Teachers Guild, International (ATG). He was also president of the Walla Walla Music Teachers Association.
His strong interest in the financial world made him a natural choice for treasurer of the Walla Walla Symphony Society, a position he held for many years. His wife, Jeanette, was executive director. She is also one of her husband's biggest fans. She said. " With his accordion, he can make people sing, cry, dance, be happy or sad or even pray. Horace Lazzari continues to be an inspiration to everyone he meets.
I would like to thank Dr. Paul Cohen, noted musicologist, publisher, author, composer, professor and performer, all relating to classical saxophone, for his patience, professional guidance and assistance in the creation of the Horace Lazzari Website and the Eugene Ettore Memorial Website.
If you have any photos, programs, or information related to Horace Lazzari. the "Manhattan Concerto" or Eugene Ettore, please forward to me.
Email: Ritabelll@aol.com or call me at 201-675-4861.
I will scan and return all information to you.