History of the CIA


Originally founded by three countries (France, Germany and Switzerland) in Paris in 1935 as the Association Internationale des Accordéonistes, the Confédération Internationale des Accordéonistes was reconstituted under its present name in May 1948 at a well-attended meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Following a preparatory convention held in Paris during the previous January, delegates from Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Holland, Italy, Poland and Switzerland met under the Presidency of Mr. Max Francy. Each country represented elected three members to a Governing Board (Conseil Superieur), which then proceeded to elect the first officers of the Confederation.

Mr. Francis Coderay (Switzerland) was elected President, with Mr. Max Castelli (Great Britain) and the late Professor Luigi Oreste Anzaghi (Italy) as Vice Presidents; Mr. Max Francy (France) became the first General Secretary, with Mr. Frans van Cappelle (Holland) as Assistant, Mr. Charles Demaele (Belgium) as Treasurer, Mr. Crzybek (Poland) as Assistant Treasurer and Mr. Ernst Ditzuleit (Germany) as Archivist-Librarian or Custodian of Records.

This meeting in Lausanne also included the International Championship Competition 'Coupe Mondiale', which was won by the young French girl Yvette Horner, who has since become world famous for her outstanding career as an entertainer both in France and abroad.

At the following Congress held in Paris in January, 1949, various changes were made in the Governing Board; Mr. Demaele of Belgium who had served a short term in the of office as President in succession to Mr. Coderay, was himself succeeded by Mr. Adolph Oehrli from Interlaken, Switzerland, under whose Presidency the Confederation made steady progress for the next eight years.

Mr. Oehrli resigned in January, 1957, and was succeeded as President by Professor Muller-Blattau of the Saar, who served in that capacity for only one year, and was then succeeded, in 1958 by Dr. Hans Buscher, a distinguished lawyer from Stuttgart, Germany. Under this gentle but firm leadership the Confederation then entered another seven year period of steady consolidation.

Dr. Buscher resigned, owing to the increasing pressure of his many professional and business commitments, in 1965, and his successor, Dr. Karl Albrecht Majer, another successful member of the legal profession from Vienna, Austria, was elected President at the Malta Congress in October of that same year.

The name of Mr. Andre Martignoni first appeared in CIA records in July 1949 when he undertook the responsibility of recording the minutes of the Spa Congress. This task had formerly been carried out by Mr. Ed. J. Maillard, Secretary of the Swiss National Accordion Union, and by Mr. A. Delapierre who served as Secretary of the CIA during 1949 and 1950. Mr. Martignoni took the place of Mr. Delapierre on the nomination of the President at the Milan Congress in November 1950 and was officially elected as Secretary General at the Paris Congress in January 1951.

Mr. Martignoni served the Confederation well as Secretary General until 1958, and was succeeded by Mr. James Black of Cranleigh, Great Britain who was elected to the office at the Utrecht Congress in January of that year. Mr. Black was succeeded by Professor Walter Maurer as General Secretary in 1975, a postition he held until 2006, making him the longest serving CIA Executive Officer in the CIA's history. In the early days, the Treasurer was Mr. Albert Achermann of Zurich, who had been elected in February, 1952, and served in that capacity until 1959 when the post was taken over by the Treasurer Mr. Richard Edmunds of Toronto, Canada, elected at the June Congress in New York.

During the the whole of this period, the officer with the longest period of service in one capacity, was Dr. Otto Meyer of Surbiton, United Kingdom. Dr. Meyer was elected Propaganda Officer of the Confederation at the Paris Cognress in February 1952, and continued in this role through the end of the 1960's.

Mr. Max Francy holds a permanent position of Honorary Founder President, while Mr. Adolph Oehrli and Dr. Hans Buscher are Honorary Presidents, and Mr. Andrews Martignoni and Honorary Member of the Executive Committee.

From the commencement it was always recognized that one of the primary aims of the Confederation should be to elevate the status of the accordion (which at the time was scarcely recognized as a serious musical instrument) in the world of music generally. Clearly, this would involve raising the standard of musicianship amongst players of the instrument, and with this objective in mind, the Lausanne convention incorporated the first World Accordion Festival for performers. Players were nominated by many of the participating countries to compete for the "Coupe Mondiale", which soon became internationally acknowledged as one of the highest distinctions an accordion player can achieve.

The Coupe Mondiale has been promoted regularly ever since, the host countries including Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Holland, Hungary, Italy, Malta, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, USA, Venezuela, Norway, Scotland, Croatia and China. Through the years, the Coupe Mondiale has been significant in establishing continually rising standards of performance.

The introduction in 1961 of Awards of Gold, Silver and Bronze medals for players placed in various categories has largely removed the possible criticism that it is undesirable to over emphasize the conception of finding "the best player in the world". Now, each year many players return to their countries with various distinctions, all of which are worthy of local, national and international publicity, resulting in increased interest in musical activity and positively encouraging younger players to pursue their studies and improve their musicianship.

In recent years, the Confederation has increasingly recognized the importance of securing the interest of the younger generation of music in general (the accordion in particular) and, to secure their proper place in cultural activity throughout the world. With this in mind, a special international competition for Juniors was run for a number of years, in which national associations select their best young performers to record a performance on tape; those gaining special commendation in the international adjudication being invited to appear in a special presentation concert at the next Coupe Mondiale.

This has developed into a Junior Coupe Mondiale category run for the first time in Slovakia in 1996 with 20 entries. Another recent development has been the Virtuoso Entertainment category, first run in conjunction with the Coupe Mondiale in 1989 for the purpose of highlighting the versatility of the accordion and its entertainment possibilities. This class has enjoyed enthusiastic audiences and has since been expanded to include a Junior Virtuoso Entertainment category.

In London, under the auspices of the CIA member, the National Accordion Organization of the United Kingdom, the first International Competition for Piano Accordion was held, and a year later, the first International Competition for Chamber Music. Both have been included into the regular curriculum of the annual Coupe Mondiale Competitions. In 2009, the Coupe Mondiale featured its first ever Digital Accordion Category. In 2012 the International Competition for Piano Accordion has been enhanced to include all keyboard systems and was renamed as the Masters Coupe Mondiale.

Membership of the Confederation has increased over the years, from the eight associations which originally sent delegates to the first re-constitutive assembly in Lausanne in 1948, to a total of 36 today including 19 Premiere Voting Members and 17 Voting Members..

The Confederation recognizes the importance of developing the repertoire of music composed specially for the accordion, and in addition to compiling regularly updated catalogues of such music, it also selected for many years a new original composition as the test piece for the Coupe Mondiale and required candidates to perform at least one other piece originally composed for the instrument. Today, awards are given for the best new solo original work presented at the Coupe Mondiale festioval in both Classical and Entertainment.

During the 1970's, a Committee was set up to assist affiliated associations with the preparation of examination syllabus, and in securing full recognition for the instrument in the highest centers of national musical education. It is satisfactory to record that the accordion has now been accepted for many years into the regular curriculum of the leading musical establishments in a number of countries.

Thus, under its democratic system of management, the Confederation continues to extend its scope and develop its membership from year to year. Full control of all activity is vested in the General Assembly of Delegates which meets twice each year, at a "Summer Congress" held during the period of the Coupe Mondiale, and a "Winter Congres" held in the early part of the year. Each affiliated country is entitled to send four delegates to a Congress. All matters of policy are determined by free vote at the General Assemblies, at which all affiliated countries have equal voting rights.

In 1975 the CIA became the first instrument specific organization to be accepted into the International Music Council (IMC) which is the largest non-governmental division of UNESCO.

In 2007 under the direction of Joan C. Sommers, the CIA initiated the World Accordion Orchestra in Washington, DC, allowing musicians including Delegates, Jury Members, Contestants and guests artists to join together under the friendship of Music to create an International Accordion Orchestra. This magnificent success was followed by the staging of the CIA World Accordion Orchestra (WAO) II in Scotland in 2008, WAO III in Auckland, New Zealand, WAO IV in Varaždin, Croatia, WAO V in Shanghai, China, WAO VI in Spoleto, Italy and WAO VII in Victoria, BC, Canada.

Most recently, the CIA inaugurated World Accordion Day each May 6. Coordinated by Grayson Masefield, the event has now grown to include an International 24 livestreamed broadcast highlighting an incredible and diverse array of accordion activities from around the world from both our CIA members as well as International guests. The next World Accordion Day broadcast is scheduled for May 6, 2014.

Today, working together with members from around the globe, the CIA continues to promote international excellence in the accordion world and in addition to the regular meetings, takes advantage of the electronic communication to coordinate its activities.

Organizations interested in joining the CIA should contact the CIA General Secretary at the address listed below.

CIA Presidents

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Max Francy
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Frances Coderay
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Dr. Charles Demaele
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Adolph Oehrli
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Prof. Josef Muller-Blattau
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Dr. Hans Buscher
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Richard Edmunds
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Dr. Karl Albrecht Majer
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Ove Hahn

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Kevin Friedrich
New Zealand
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Raymond Bodell
United Kingdom
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Mirco Patarini