Accordion Articles - Establishing the Chinese Accordion School


Written by: Steve and Maggie Roxton
Publication: General
Date written: 16 November 2001

Stradella, in Northern Italy is hardly a place anyone would include on their holiday list of places to visit, unless like me they were devoted to the accordion. So the town featured as a must on our 3100 mile 'grand tour' alongside medieval sites in central France like Rocamadour and Carcassone, well known holiday haunts on the French Riviera, and the cream of Italian destinations like Florence, Pisa, Lake Como and Venice.

Having driven a 1000 miles from St Malo in Brittany, my wife Maggie and I booked into a hotel which turned out to be right next door to the purpose of our visit. The following morning in my best Italian, I announced our arrival into the security device on the heavy old door of the Dallape factory. My efforts were rewarded with the automatic unlocking of a small access door which led into a cobbled courtyard.

There we were met by a friendly little man who ushered us into the directors office. The factory was established in 1876, and stepping into this office was like stepping back in time. Only the presence of a computer, modern telephone and photos of some of the worlds leading accordionists, told you it was 2001.

We received a warm welcome from the director AMLETO DALLAPE who's great uncle, MARIANO DALLAPE had started the factory and went on to develop the STRADELLA bass system. The factory has always been a family concern, and Amleto, like his father and great uncle before him, prides himself on the production of personalised hand built accordions.

We were treated to tour of the factory, to see the small workforce of craftsmen, diligently building sparkling machines, on the same benches that every Dallape accordion ever made, has sat. "To ensure absolute top quality" Amleto told me "each accordion is first made, tested, taken apart again and re- built once more."

On returning to the office I was invited to try one of these wonderful instruments. Compliments flowed thick and fast, from Amleto regarding my playing and from me, on the response and quality of tone of these much sought after accordions.

With much regret at having to leave this 'Aladin's Cave' of the accordion world we climbed back in our car to continue on to our ultimate destination, Venice. I thought my accordion playing was now just restricted to practice on the Hohner Musette instrument I had brought with me, but in St Mark's Square in Venice, I was able to persuade a member of one of the cafe orchestras to let me do a 15 minute spot on his accordion.

In so doing I fulfilled a lifelong ambition of mine, to play Carnival of Venice in Venice itself............
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