(1931 to 2014)
Obituary by Dr Helmi Harrington
Faithe Deffner, 83, of East Williston, NY, and Boynton Beach, FL, born in Worcester, Massachusetts on March 17, 1931; passed away on June 3, 2014, in Florida.
In 1987, the “Keyboard” magazine cover followed up proclaiming “Accordion power” as “rock’s new main squeeze.” In 1988, her campaign raised $30,000 for AAA’s international competition that drew 29 entrants from 10 countries. In 1995, she initiated the first Accordion Summit Meeting to discuss the expanding role of accordions in modern music. The meeting drew national speakers. It was considered a great dissemination of thoughts and experiences which had the expected by-product of positive publicity.
Also in 1995, she planned the Houston, TX, AAA festival to honor her friend Dr. Willard Palmer who was in failing health yet accepted the invitation. Many of the University of Houston’s Accordion Symphony Orchestra participated to resound one of his arrangements and his composition “Ombo.” It was his last public appearance.
Faithe worked tirelessly to have 1996 declared the “Year of the Accordion”. The AAA focus during this year was on renewing accordionists’ enthusiasm for their instrument. They could not have chosen a more popular figure for festival honors -- Myron Floren, whose weekly appearances on Lawrence Welk’s 27-year television show made the “Happy Norwegian” America’s most sought-after entertainer.
In 2005, the AAA hosted another innovative step inspired by Faithe—a search to find “the” new accordion “star” performing pieces of modern-pop appeal in an attempt to bring more young people to the instrument. Financed by her friend, Steve Stolaruk, the campaign named “Search for the Hottest Accordionist,” offered significant cash awards along with other benefits to promote accordion careers of the three top winners.
The AAA-ATG co-hosted 2007 Coupe Mondiale was a crowning moment of organization for Faithe. It was the largest international accordion event in the history of the USA, attracting over 1,000 participants and putting accordionists everywhere from the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to the steps of the Capital Building, and the inaugural World Accordion Orchestra. During that time, Faithe was CIA Honorary Vice President.
Photo left: Faithe with Heather Masefield, Frank Busso Jnr and Snr and Kevin Friedrich at the 2007 Coupe Mondiale.
Faithe decided to retire around 2007. She sold Ernest Deffner Affiliates to Frank Busso, Jr., son of her dear friends, Carmela and Frank Busso, Sr. Frank (Sr.) and Faithe worked closely together for many years in organizing AAA events.
When asked about a memorial for her years of AAA service, Faithe requested a commissioned work for piano accordion from Russian composer, Sofia Gubaidulina.
This wish could not be fulfilled, so in 2005 she personally commissioned Viatcheslav Semionov’s three-movement masterpiece, “Divertimento.”
It was premiered by the composer at the AAA supported/hosted CUNY Concert on March 11 and AAA Master Class and Concert on March 12, 2005 at Greenwich House Music School, Renee Weiler Concert Hall, in Greenwich Village and repeated throughout his nationwide concert tour.
Cover of Divertimento music left. Photo of Faithe Deffner with Viatcheslav Semionov at the premiere performance of Divertimento.
In recognition of her years of service and her status as president of the organization in 1985-86, 1995-2000, the AAA presented her with a “Lifetime Achievement Award” in an elaborate 2009 banquet at New York City’s Tavern on the Green, attended by national and international figures.
Surrounded by dear friends and respected associates she heard her legendary accomplishments extolled as she was presented with the esteemed “President Emerita” recognition by the American Accordionists’ Association.
Below is a montage of many photos from the Accordions Worldwide archives taken over the years. You will recognise many famous faces. The different sizes were what was online for different news and international events reports.
On a personal note: Faithe asked me to write her obituary during an October, 2010 conversation, saying that she hoped it would not be needed for a long time because she still had many things to complete. It was an unexpected honor I took with utmost seriousness wrought from deep affection and esteem. I knew it would be a difficult task to summarize her life so filled with accomplishments.
With new eyes, I began to reread everything I found written by and about her; to rethink our years of conversations, letters and emails; to listen differently when associates mentioned her name. Without fail I noticed a tone of respect and often the assumption of friendship. However, her polished, professional façade and articulate speech could also disaffect, obscuring the depth of her heart. Only occasionally did a glimmer of hesitation encroach on her stolid, determined bearing.
A Celebration of the Life of Faithe Deffner hosted by Angelica Bargou was held on Sunday, July 13 at the Double Tree by Hilton, Tarrytown, New York, immediately following the AAA Open Meeting and Breakfast. The above video slide show prepared by Joan and Dan Grauman was shown at this important memorial event. Our grateful thanks to Joan and Dan Grauman for supplying this.
Look again at photos of the young woman to see that she fostered a dichotomy between professionalism and her self-assessed intrinsic romanticism. Against any obstacles, she stood with her friends and defended their interests.
It has become trite to speak of celebrating a life when in reality we mourn its loss. There will be many who write about Faithe, uncounted others who will quietly acknowledge her influence, myriads who will never know her impact on their lives, and a world-wide public who bid farewell to this giant of our time. She used her passion to achieve what four people might not equal. Her presence is irreplaceable and loss of her brilliant intellect leaves us all reduced. Many have set out to improve the accordion world, but she did it with aplomb.
A memorial service will be held July 13, 2014 hosted by Angelica Bargou, following the American Accordionists’ Association Festival, at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel in Tarrytown, NY.
Dr. Helmi Harrington
REMEMBERING Faithe Deffner
|by Beniamino Bugiolacchi, Castelfidardo, Italy|
Picture above at the 2008 Coupe Mondiale in Glascow: Manfred Gàbler (then Klingenthal Director), Beniamino Bugiolacchi of (Museum Castelfidardo Director) and Faithe Deffner (AAA Delegate). Pictures by the author.
Beniamino Bugiolacchi has made many important contributions to the accordion over the years and was instrumental:
Beniamino Bugiolacchi writes:
I learned a few days ago of the sad passing of Faithe Deffner.
This news has left me with a deep sadness as the mutual esteem that united us was huge. I have known Faithe Deffner from back in 1967 when I had been called by the Pro Loco of Castelfidardo to organise at the Teatro Astra in Castelfidardo an exceptional accordion concert organized by Ernest Deffner in collaboration with the owners of the Italian accordion factory Titano Victoria (picture left of program cover).
Picture left in 1985, of Pino Bontempi (translator and former singer at the New York Metropolitan), Faithe Deffner and Beniamino in the Castelfidardo square.
The show consisted of famous accordionists from the USA making a musical tribute to the Italian manufacturers of this popular instrument. It was from the late '40s that the city of accordions had last hosted big name American accordionists. The last was Peter Deiro.
The success of the concert was great because the duo Palmer / Hughes, Stanley Darrow and the orchestra "The Duluth Accordionaires” had brought a wave of genuine musicality and new ideas. Perhaps it was that concert and the immediate friendship born with Faithe Deffner that introduced me to the concept of accordion promotion as a tool in the rock era of that time, which was the antithesis of my musical ideas.
I discovered therefore a person tenacious, stubborn, who always looked to the future with optimism, convinced that with adequate and modern promotional campaign tools, the accordion could hold back the declining numbers of accordions being made and maintain an important role for the accordion in the international music scene.
Since then, continuous exchanges of opinion on how best to publicize our beliefs; I in the role of Director of the Museum Castelfidardo, Faithe in the guise of distributor, publisher and executive of the Amerian Accordionist's Association (AAA).
Here then, our meetings / confrontations with different cultural environments (Moscow, 1985), debates on a plane or debates about accordions at the magnificent contest she organized at the Hilton New York (1988), meetings of the heads of international competitions co-ordinated by the CIA in Glasgow (2008) so that we should come to a closer connection between the various competition and festival organizations, plus countless meetings in Castelfidardo all about promoting and ways to benefit the accordion.
I feel greatly saddened in Castelfidardo to learn of YOUR passing. A heartfelt and sincere THANK YOU is owed by many here.
Picture left: 1967 reception by the City of Castelfidardo. Left to right: Sam and Peggy Falcetti, Mayor of Castelfidardo Laura Cianca, Faithe Deffner, Dee Dee and Roger Latulippe.
Faithe Deffner Passes Away - USA
|by Kevin Friedrich, as published in the Accordions.com Weekly News, 6th June 2014|
|The accordion world is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Faithe Deffner.
A dynamic personality in the accordion world, Faithe Deffner (17th March 1931 to 3rd June 2014) translated her passion for accordion into action as she devoted her life's work to elevating and advancing the instrument worldwide.
Born in Worcester, Massachusetts, Faithe Deffner attended the University of Missouri School of Journalism in Columbia, Missouri. She subsequently worked as a trade publications reporter in New York City and went on to become an advertising copywriter and account executive.
She opened her own Chain Advertising Co. on Liberty Street in Manhattan. Among her clients was the musical instrument firm owned by Ernest Deffner, for whom her first assignment was a 380-page catalog of musical merchandise ranging from castanets to vibraphones. The large section dealing with accordions introduced her to the fascinating world of a musical instrument destined to become her lifetime passion. She studied with studio accordionist and recording artist Billy Costa.
Throughout her career, Faithe Deffner has participated in almost every aspect of the accordion world. Together with her late husband, Ernest Deffner, the Deffners set the standard for high quality accordion manufacturing, innovative design, publishing and music education. Their clients and collaborators are truly a Who’s Who in the accordion world.
The Deffner businesses will celebrate 80 years in September of this year. The firm includes Pancordion, Inc.,Titano Accordion Co., Pigini Accordions and Ernest Deffner Publications, which Faithe Deffner has directed since 1971 when her husband passed away, until her recent retirement when the business under the same names came under the directorship of Frank Busso Junior.
The real hallmark of Faithe Deffner's work has been her vision to bring together accordion enthusiasts of all ages and from all corners of the world. Working on behalf of the American Accordionists’ Association as the organization’s president, Faithe Deffner introduced new concepts to bring public attention to the accordion.
Whether helping to fill the decks of a cruise ship with 700 participating accordion enthusiasts playing Anchors Aweigh as they sailed past the Statue of Liberty, or staging the 2007 Coupe Mondiale in Alexandria, Virginia where it was attended by over 1,000 accordion enthusiasts, or arranging for Myron Floren to conduct six busloads of accordionists performing at the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, or collaborating with Lawrence Welk Resorts in a two-year “Search for the Hottest” accordionist, Ms. Deffner created numerous significant opportunities to publicly showcase talented accordionists.
She has also served on numerous boards and committees in many accordion organizations including American Accordionists’ Association (AAA), Accordion Industry Council, Confederation Internationale des Accordeonistes (CIA), Accordionists and Teachers Guild (ATG), International and the Accordion Federation of North America (AFNA). For over 50 years she has been a staunch supporter of AAA as a member of its board and serving longest as the association's President, becoming President Emerita.
In the mid 1960's, the Deffners purchased the Titano Accordion Company from Dorothy and Edward Traficante of Minneapolis, Minnesota. The firm moved to New York City and Faithe Deffner worked with Bill Palmer and Bill Hughes in the development of their extraordinary Titano concert instruments.
Over the years, Faithe Deffner worked to interest colleges and universities in the accordion as a major course of study. The first such program originated in 1946 at the University of Houston in Texas, where Bill Palmer introduced it to scores of young accordionists who majored on the instrument. Through Palmer's wide experience in the arena of higher education and his memorable concert work with the late Bill Hughes, the perfect beachhead was established as an example for other institutions to follow.
Picture right is Kevin Friedrich performing with the Tiger Accordion which was kindly donated to the Dargaville Museum Accordion Display in New Zealand by Faithe Deffner. Her generous spirit and great care for the history of the accordion was also seen with her support for the Castelfidardo Accordion Museum.
Always a strong exponent of accordion student bands and studio activity, Faithe worked closely with music schools in the US and abroad, developing unique programs for student enrolment and creative teaching procedures. In 1978, she embarked on yet another career, collaborating with Lindy Baumgarten, a distinguished accordion teacher and past president of the Canadian Accordion Teachers Association.
Together, they founded Keyboard Study Centers in New York. Ms. Deffner became educational director and Mrs. Lindy (as she is fondly called) utilized her teaching skills to develop outstanding accordion students, accordion bands and orchestras. The school grew rapidly and took many top honors at national music events.
A computer enthusiast of many years she has long been an exponent of the internet, prodding her friend and associate, Harley Jones of New Zealand, into launching Accordions Worldwide in 1996, the cyberspace home of all things accordion, which has become a wonderful resource.
There was a strong New Zealand connection from 1969. Picture above in Linz, Austria, 1983 - Mauro Greco, Faithe Deffner, Maddelena Belfiore-Greco, Harley Jones and 16 yr old New Zealand champion Marie Efford who had just won top lady competitor award (and 7th place in the Senior category) at the 1983 Coupe Mondiale. Photo by Kevin Friedrich.
In 2005, internationally acclaimed composer and bayanist, Viatcheslav Semionov dedicated his new work, Divertimento, to Faithe Deffner, in honor of her many years as AAA's president.
Picture left: long time colleagues and friends Harley Jones and Faithe Deffner at the 2008 Coupe Mondiale.
Culminating a glorious career in the accordion world, Faithe Deffner was elected vice president of the Confederation Internationale Des Accordeonistes for 2007 when she coordinated a memorable Coupe Mondiale in Alexandria, Virginia as a joint venture sponsored by the AAA and ATG.
The event was a singular success attended by more than 1,000 accordion aficionados and occupying three hotels. Two ballrooms were constantly working and a gala concert was presented every evening. Orchestras and competitors came from many countries. The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC invited accordionists to do a half-hour program every evening throughout the week.
The first World Accordion Orchestra took place under Joan Sommers' baton, and has become an annual event since. Participants were all delighted with the high musical caliber and great camaraderie, which permeated this Coupe Mondiale.
Faithe's legacy will be remembered with profound respect and will be sadly missed by the entire accordion community.
Faithe Deffner is survived by daughter Verne Leven.
The funeral took place on Friday, June 6, at Beth Israel Memorial Chapel in Boynton Beach, Florida. Internment was at Beth David Cemetery in Hollywood, Florida.
Personal Remembrance from Harley Jones
|From my early twenties, I had the pleasure of working many weeks of each year in the USA with Faithe Deffner including travelling to Europe at least once each year (and often 2 or more times a year) to attend the Coupe Mondiale and/or the accordion factories in Castelfidardo or the Frankfurt Musikmesse. At times, I also lived for months in her Long Island house.
Most recently in 2012, I stayed at the Boynton Beach house with Faithe Deffner and An Bargou for nearly two weeks.
Faithe Deffner was almost a second mother to me as well as a colleague of enormous brilliance and over the years, from my early twenties, she trained me, or had me trained, in all facets of the accordion industry.
This training was to be so important both in New Zealand as well as for the setting up of Accordions Worldwide internet sites in 1996 and on. Read the special award Citation below.
|Picture above: Presentation of the NZAA Lifetime Achievement Award by President John Statham to Faithe Deffner, presented at the Opening Concert of the 2009 Coupe Mondiale before all the CIA Delegates and Executive.|
|As I was making this webpage in the memory of Faithe Deffner and feeling sad, I had a lovely surprise.
My brother Maurice opened a drawer and showed me the Birthday Card that Faithe had sent to me for my 50th birthday.
My 50th birthday was held on Nagigia Island in Fiji with 50 friends and family. Faithe was unable to make the journey due to other committments so she enlisted the help of Kevin Friedrich and they spent a lot of time in New York carefully selecting a gift for me which Kevin would deliver to the event.
And what a gift! It was a very very expensive Tag Heuer watch, fully waterproof, which I proudly wear daily to this very day.
Also delivered by Kevin was a beautifully written birthday card that I will treasure along with the many other "treasured memories" of Faithe Deffner.
While so many accordionists have seen publicly the enormous work Faithe Deffner did for the promotion of accordion and for accordion associations and so many individuals, the story behind this card shows a further dimension of the very caring personality of Faithe Deffner, that made her so many lifelong friendships.
The life of Faithe Deffner made a REAL DIFFERENCE to so many people. I was so lucky to be a part of that so productive, so generous and giving life.
Farewell my very dear friend.
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