beginning of the nineteenth century, European immigrants brought
the popular concertina and the diatonic accordions to Australia.
They first appeared in the city of Melbourne, and around the
State of Victoria. The diatonic accordion developed a good following,
and it is still very popular today.
In the mid 1850's, a German immigrant, Conrad "Con"
Klippel, brought an accordion with him to Australia. This was
a 'flutina' model, similar to the accordions of the 1830's Romantic
European era. He settled in Victoria and performed at 'Kitchen
Balls' for many years. ('Kitchen Balls' were so called because
they took place in the kitchen, which was usually the only living
area in the house.) One night, on his way to play at a Kitchen
Ball, Con Klippel disappeared. His horse and accordion were
found at the edge of a river, he was never seen again.
The first diatonic accordion models in Australia that were imported
came from Great Britain, and were soon followed by German models.
These often arrived in Australia with distinctive logos showing
Australian animals. They were called 'bush accordions', because
they could withstand the very hot climate.
Bill McGlashan, born in Castlemaine, was considered one of the
best pioneer accordionists in the country. His father and grandfather
played the concertina. The first piano-accordionist was Peter
Piccini, who began his career in 1924. Called "The Father
of the Accordion in Australia", he was the country's first
solo accordionist. His career included concerts, film soundtracks
and records. He passed away in 1989.
The first chromatic accordionists in Australia were immigrants
from Italy and Germany. As elsewhere, the accordions popularity
increased throughout the 1920's and 30's, until the 1940's.
Ossie Mazzei arrived in Australia in 1930. He played a button-keyed
chromatic accordion, but later changed to the piano accordion.
He played for the army during the war. After returning to Australia,
he opened a school in Windsor. In 1949, he founded the Queensland
Accordion Orchestra, which still plays today.
Lou Campara was another accordion celebrity who became famous
internationally. In Great Britain in the 1950's, he regularly
performed for radio programmes and BBC Television, most notably
on the Benny Hill and Mel Torme shows. He also played in France.
Charles Magnante wrote an article about him in the "Accordion
In the 1970's there was a decline in the popularity of the accordion.
Sadly, it disappeared completely from some regions where it
was once extremely popular. 1970, however, was also the year
in which the Accordion Society of Australia (ASA) was founded
by Else Brandman. From this, a more serious accordion infrastructure
evolved. Catherine Day is the current President.
The first Australian manufacturer, Peter Hyde, opened his shop
in 1986. He sells copies of old style accordion models, and
also makes models to order.
In 1993 a new organisation was set up in Australia, called "The
Australia Accordion Teachers Association". The President
is Tania Lukic-Marx.
Approximately 150,000 people play the accordion in Australia