Accordions Worldwide Celebrity Interview of Beniamino Bugiolacchi
Celebrity Interviews

Beniamino Bugiolacchi
Castelfidardo, Italy, 12 April 1999
Moderator: Wallace Liggett

Q. You were instrumental in founding the " International Museum of the Fisarmonica" in 1981 in Castelfidardo. Who had the idea to start this museum and how did you become involved?
A. We thought to found the "International Museum of the Fisarmonica" in 1963, during the centenary of the founding of the Italian accordion industry. I was member of the promoting committee and I spoke about this idea on that occasion.

Q. Describe the steps and approvals required, from the initial idea to the opening of the museum.
A. Concerning the approvals required. It was quite easy because I was a member of Castelfidardo's Municipal Administration, and as Culture Alderman, I was able to involve all the Administration and also the "Pro-Loco" (the President of this office was Vincenzo Canali). We chose the rooms in the City Hall and we easily had the approvals from the Marche Region and from the Ministry of Culture. About the finding of the materials to exhibit in the Museum, we had help from the RAI. In fact we took part in a really popular television program in 1963, (PORTOBELLO), and with Vincenzo Canali and Gervasio Marcosignori, we made an appeal to find old accordions as a gift for the new Museum from the Italian people. The audience of the program was over 18 millions people and after 3 days we received 87 old accordions as gifts.

Q. Did you have any problems gathering the historical information and instruments?
A. I like very much studying local history and gathering news, information, and statistics. It is one of my hobbies.

Q. Tell us about the building and the exhibits. In what way are the exhibits organized?
A. In 3 months the municipal staff changed the rooms of the sixteenth century building chosen for our museum, and it became an exhibition of 250 square meters. All the materials and instruments were placed in 40 show cases in chronological sequence. The "International Museum of the Fisarmonica" of Castelfidardo is unique in the world.

Q. Are there any publications about the museum that readers may purchase? If so, please give contact details for our readers?
A. There are 2 publications about the museum: L'AFFASCINANTE STORIA DELLA FISARMONICA (The fascinating history of the accordion), that I wrote but not for sale, and also CASTELFIDARDO E LA FISARMONICA (Z. Frati, M. Moroni, B. Bugiolacchi) that can be obtained from the Municipal Administration (c/o Municipio di Castelfidardo), Italy.

Q. When and why did you start manufacturing accordion accessory products?
A. My father Gilberto started to produce accordion accessory products in 1946. My grandfather had manufactured leather products from 1904.

Q. You manufacture accordion shoulder straps. Could you describe step by step the process of making a shoulder strap?
A. The process of making shoulder straps starts with the cutting by hand (or with electronic machines) of the hide, foam rubber, leather or synthetic materials. Then, these materials are stuck down and sewed. At the end we carefully fasten to the shoulder strap, the little belt that will sustain the weight of the accordion .

Q. How would a buyer know the difference between a high quality product and a cheaper accordion shoulder strap?
A. By the materials. The leather must remain straight, also bending it. The velvet or the synthetic material of the padding must not fade or loose the bright colour.

Q. Many different types of materials seem to be used in shoulder strap manufacture. What material do you use and why?
A. The materials we use are: hide, foam rubber, cardboard, velvet, leather, leatherette, iron coated with nickel hardware.

Q. What type of shoulder strap is most popular and why?
A. The model 306/a of our catalogue is the most sold because it is 8 cm wide. It suits the shoulder and the padding distributes the accordion's weight.

Q. Back straps are another one of your products. Which type is the most popular?
A. The model 134 of our catalogue, because it is very easy to use.

Q. Bags for accordions have increased in popularity in recent years. Why do you think this is? What type of accordion bag is the most popular? What types of materials and construction do you prefer for accordion bags?
A. The bags I have created are very light but also strong. They can be carried like a rucksack and can be taken in an air craft like hand baggage. The model much appreciated is the 506 of our catalogue.

Q. Back pads for accordions. Describe the different types you manufacture and anything interesting about materials and construction.
A. We produce back pads in nylon, velvet or cloth.

Q. How would a buyer of a back pad know the difference between a high quality product and a cheaper back pad?
A. A buyer would have to check the sewing and the quality of the hardware.

Q. Do you manufacture any products that you consider unique?
A. I was the first who produced a special shoulder strap, suitable for the folk accordions (model 342).

Q. Describe your factory?
A. Our factory is situated in the center of Castelfidardo. It is 270 square metres and we have particular machines: electronic press, 8 sewing machines, other machines to cut the leather, electric scissors, etc. At the moment there are 6 collaborators.

Q. Can you tell us any amusing incidents that have occurred in your business?
A. Really there are many amusing incidents. In 1981 for example, an important person visited our factory, Dr. Foschi, Ministery of Labour. To show that the production was at the full work pace, with our collaborators, we put in our factory also some friends and relatives, but, of course, the new entries didn't know the job, and the result was really funny.

Q. What plans do you have for your business in the future?
A. I would specialize in manufaturing guitar straps, in addition to the production of accordion accessories.

Q. You were involved in the start of the Premio Internazionale di Fisarmonica, Città di Castelfidardo. Tell us how the event first got started?
A. The first competition was organized in 1964 by Mr. Bio Boccosi and me (at that time I was President of the Pro-Loco). The change from a national event to an international event was made in 1987. Considering my knowledge and international friendships in the accordion's field, and also my experience in organizing this kind of event, I was charged by the Municipal Administration to be the Artistic Director of the "Premio Città di Castelfidardo". I held this responsibility until 1992.

Q. Describe the event in detail?
A. It's quite difficult for me to describe the event at the moment, because for some years I have not been the Director. It would be better to ask the same question to Mr. Paolo Picchio, the current Director.

Q. When did this event become an international competition and festival? How did that come about?
A. In 1987, Mr. Vincenzo Canali and I realized that the event could became international. We believed that many competitions in the world were all similar, and were organized in places where the accordion wasn't appreciated.

Q. Who initially organized the sponsorship of this event by the City of Castelfidardo? How important is this sponsorship?
A. It was very easy to find the sponsor for this event in Castelfidardo. In fact there are about 40 firms manufacturing accordions and other 40 that work in manufacturing accessories and other musical instruments.

Q. There are a number of different international competitions for soloists. Do you think it is is to the benefit of the accordion development overall, or do you think it would be better to have closer collaboration between the many competition organisers?
A. I think that the accordion must follows the modern times. The competitions for soloists are out of date and could damage the accordion's image. The accordion is a musical instrument that has the same dignity of the other musical instruments, and must play with other instruments. Moreover, in the age of TV and telematics, the soloist creates less interest. To focus on this new reality, it could help to promote a meeting at international level, involving those dedicated to accordion, musicians, teachers, distributors, retailers, etc. In Italy there will be a meeting in May in Rimini. The collaboration of all will be indispensable.

Q. At times, there have been major criticisms by well known accordionists about the value of competitions. What do you see are the major benefits? What do you see are negatives?
A. Unfortunately, in the value of competitions sometimes prevail commercial interests.

Q. Regarding the 1998 event, comment was made about the lack of entries from Western Europe. Are any changes planned, to encourage greater Western European participation next year?
A. About the event of last year, I was really critical. The organizers must involve other nations (or the Festival will be stopped).

Q. Where do you see the future of this event going?
A. The future of this event could be bright if the organization will meet the needs that the new trends in music and also the new technology propose for the year 2000 and beyond.

Q. In 1983 you organized a national convention to promote the study of accordion in conservatories. Tell us the background to this convention and the results.
A. In 1983 there was a need to develop the culture of the accordion. We organized a meeting in Rome with 15 Directors of conservatories and also the Ministry of Education. The result was that the accordion began to be taught in conservatories. Maybe today the accordion is too much a cultural instrument.

Q. Tell us about your work in the association promoting accordion manufacturing in Italy. How long have you been involved?
A. I was appointed National President of the Artisan manufacturing accordion two years ago (Confartigianato). We not only promote the accordion but also all other instruments.

Q. What are the aims and plans of the organization?
A. To promote music.

Q. Have you had any amusing experiences as their representative?

A. Not amusing experiences, but important, like meeting with very important persons of the musical world: Abbado, Bocelli, Accardo, Berio, etc.

Q. Do you have any family and do they share your interest in the Italcinte business?
A. Yes I have. My nephew Carlo is concerned with the manufacturing of our products and my daughter Patrizia with the relationships with our foreign customers and friends.

Q. What other interests and hobbies besides music do you have?
A. I am a collector of musical cards, stamps, medals, old records, etc..

Q. What do you regard as you greatest achievement?
A. The founding of the Accordion Museum in Castelfidardo. This is one of the most important cultural institutes and a tourist attraction point of reference in my city.
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