Accordion History


The accordion arrived in Russia around 1820, and manufacturing began soon afterwards in the 1830's in Tulle. During this time, accordionists usually played traditional Russian folk tunes on the diatonic accordion. By the end of the 19th century there were brands like Saratova, Viatica, Kasimov and Eleyski being manufactured. In 1870 Beloborodov made the first Russian 2 row chromatic accordion and in 1888 he organised an accordion orchestra.

In 1883 Tchaikovsky used 4 accordions in his "Second Suite for Symphonic Orchestra", and in 1890 Sterligov made a 3 row chromatic accordion called "Reform". Accordionists began playing more variety music, and two of the more popular performers of this time were Nevski and Beloborodov.

In 1907 Khegstrem organised the "First Russian Society of Harmonica Lovers". In 1907 Sterligov invented the first free bass chromatic accordion (and called it the "Bayan", which is now the Russian name for any chromatic accordion), enabling performers to play difficult classical music. An example of this was when Pavel Stirgin played "2nd Hungary Rhapsody" (Liszt) and Alexander Kuznetsov played "Hungary Dance No 4" (Brahms). After the Revolution of 1917 accordionists played a lot of songs about the civil war and the revolution.

From 1820 to 1926 better quality accordions gradually appeared and performers were now playing music arranged for the accordion. From 1926 to 1945 some accordionists began earning a living from teaching, greatly improving the general playing standards.

In St.Petersburg in 1926 and in Moscow in 1927, schools and universities were set up for the purpose of teaching the accordion professionally. Around this time a lot of schools and organisations were also beginning to emerge, creating competitions and concert events. In the late 1920's the first accordion newspaper appeared, called "For Harmonica". In 1929 Sterligov manufactured an instrument with the free-base system.

In the 1930's the chromatic accordion was being widely used by the top concert artists. After a recital by Gvozdev in St.Petersburg, in 1935, the chromatic accordion took off as a solo instrument. Composers began writing music especially for solo accordion, with one of the most famous pieces from this time being "Concerto for Bayan and Orchestra" (Rozhkov & Sotnikov).

In 1936 in St. Petersburg "Red Guerilla" began to manufacturer accordions. In 1939 the first All-Union competition was held. The first three place-getters in this were I.Panitsky(1st), N.Rizol (2nd) and M.Beletskaya (3rd).

Among some of the most popular performers in this period were Y.Orlansky-Titarenko, I.Gladkov, M.Makarov, A.Kuznetsov, Y.Popkov, I.Panitsky, I.Malinin and B.Tikhonov.

Since 1945, solo performers have become an important part in the development of the accordion throughout Russia. After World War II the number of recitals increased. Concert programmes included arrangements of classical music by composers such as Borodin, Moussorgsky, Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky and Prokophiev.

Music was written especially for solo accordion by composers like Zolotariev, Repnikov, Gubaidulina and Kusyakov. Famous performers and teachers included people such as M.Gelis, N.Rizol, V.Gorokhov, A.Onegin, P.Gvozdev and N. Chaykin who taught and encouraged a new generation of musicians including Y.Kazakov, A.Belyaev, E. Mitchenko, V. Galkin, Y. Vostrelov, A. Sklyarov, F. Lips and V.Semionov.


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