An 18th Century Irish folk song with words written by Thomas Moore in 1808. Performed upon my Hohner Ventura IV M accordion, a musette instrument featuring 4/5 reeds in LMMM configuration. This Hohner has several rich-sounding musette voices which lend great character to traditional folk songs.
This Southern American folk melody is performed on my vintage 1930's Hohner Regina VI, a 4/ 5 reed instrument with 16" keyboard and a full 41 treble keys as well as 120 standard Stradella bass. Anonymous 4 performs this traditional song on their album entitled "Gloryland," kind of a continuation of their fabulous artistry on the previous album entitled "American Angels: Songs of Hope, Redemption and Glory." (Anonymous 4 includes Susan Hellauer, Marsha Genensky, Johanna Maria Rose, and Ruth Cunningham.) I believe that Joan Baez performed this song either in her very popular concerts or in some of her many recordings.
Vintage accordions often sound sweet when playing folk music or traditional hymn tunes. This vintage Hohner features a rather beguiling set of tones which seem to especially come alive while performing in certain keys or treble registers. Here I am playing in the key of D minor and calling upon G minor, D minor, B flat, C7 and F to accentuate the characteristic voice of the melody. There is a yearning, haunting quality to this music which breathes throughout in a natural, flowing manner, each phrase speaking as if to the interior of the heart or the inner chambers of one's spirit. Because the accordion fits so closely to the musician's chest, you can feel the resonance emanating from the body of the instrument, sensing the pulse of the music in your fingertips and hands, arms, and legs. It is a dynamic relationship between the player and the bass and treble sections, a heightened sense of awareness as one listens to the passages in musical presentation.
A traditional Scottish folksong performed upon my Hohner Musette accordion. The sheet music is from "The Folksong Fake Book" published by Hal Leonard. This song is featured on the soundtrack of the classic 1951 film "A Christmas Carol" starring Alastair Sim as Scrooge, produced and directed by Brian Desmond Hurst and including a marvelous British cast. The screenplay was written by Noel Langley based upon the original novel by Charles Dickens. The film included music composed by Richard Addinsell with musical direction by Muir Mathieson. You can hear the theme of "Barbara Allen" throughout the full length of the film, presented in orchestral variations.
Folksinger Pete Seeger has recorded this tune and performed it live in many of his popular folk music concerts. Pete had a memorable inscription written upon his beautiful banjo which read, "This instrument surrounds hate and forces it to surrender."
This is one of my favorite folksongs, a tune which I remember from the Folk Revival period in the late 1950's and early 1960's, before the British Invasion of Rock 'n Roll groups such as the Beatles, the Dave Clark Five and the Rolling Stones. This tune is readily recognizable in the 1951 version of "A Christmas Carol," presented as a unifying theme in several scenes as well as the opening and closing sequences. Here I am playing my Hohner musette accordion, demonstrating both the dry and wet sounds available on this LMMM instrument. The bassoon reeds are especially rich-sounding on this accordion, featuring a resonant low end which adds special character to the melodic line.
A German folksong performed upon my vintage 1938 Hohner Regina VI accordion, a 4/5 reed instrument in LMMM configuration. The sheet music is published by Edition Melodie in a songbook entitled "Das Grosse Akkordeon-Buch - Volume Three" (Le Grand Album pour l'Accordeon), Anton Peterer Music & Books, Zurich, Switzerland. All of the songs in this collection have been arranged by Herwig Peychaer.
This 1930's vintage Hohner accordion features some very distinctive treble sounds and possesses quite a powerful bass section, even though it is a relatively small instrument with a petite 16 inch keyboard. Internally the accordion displays a very strong wooden frame with good workmanship on the reed-blocks and those remarkable German reeds. My friend Jerry tuned the instrument, provided new wax and leathers, and adjusted the bass mechanism as well as the treble keyboard. Without Jerry's help this instrument would not have been playable. European folk-songs often sound so completely at home on a good vintage accordion such as this one. The external appearance of this instrument is still in remarkably fine condition, featuring a beautiful ivory/cream color, ornate black lettering and decorative details, exhibiting an extraordinary mother-of-pearl keyboard and suffering almost no scratches or missing pieces of exterior trim. The grill section above the keyboard is embedded with sparkling accents of various exotic hues and features superlative carving of the materials used in manufacture at that time. In many respects I prefer the sound of the 1930's accordions to the more modern instruments which came later. One professional accordionist once described such vintage instruments as sounding more like a large harmonica than a typical accordion. That's true, for the timbres sound so alive and thrilling that one might temporarily believe the musician is indeed playing...."a glorified harmonica!"
This traditional Irish folk song is also known as "Cockles & Mussels," or under the title "In Dublin's Fair City." It was first published in 1883 at Cambridge, Massachusetts, but the song may be of earlier origin. This song is featured on the soundtrack for the notable film "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn," directed by Elia Kazan and released in 1945, also known as "Lazos Humanos." In that film, James Dunn plays Johnny Nolan who sings and plays the piano in a touching and memorable scene. As Johnny sings for Francie (Peggy Ann Garner) and Katie (Dorothy McGuire) and Neeley, one can feel the passion of the artist who offers up portions of his soul as he shares his talent with others.
Performed on my vintage Scandalli accordion, an instrument from the 1950's still capable of touching hearts and influencing modern minds.
This Scandalli is one of my favorite accordions, sounding good on folk music, Classical compositions, popular tunes and improvisation. The reeds are of very high quality, probably handmade and mounted on beautiful reed-blocks which exhibit great Italian craftsmanship. This tune appears in Elia Kazan's film "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" as Johnny Nolan walks to and from his apartment in turn-of-the-Century urban America (circa 1900). James Dunn won an Academy Award for his sensitive portrayal of the life and relationships of Johnny Nolan, and Peggy Ann Garner won an Academy Juvenile Award for her dramatic portrayal of Johnny's beautiful daughter Francie.
A traditional folksong played upon my vintage Hohner Tango II M accordion, a 3/5 reed instrument in LMM configuration. Words and music by William Douglas and Lady John Douglas Scott, written in 1685. The sheet music is from the Folksong Fake Book published by Hal Leonard. This song appears in the 1945 film "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" (Lazos Humanos), directed by Elia Kazan. James Dunn (as Johnny Nolan) sings this song and plays an upright piano for Dorothy McGuire (as Katie Nolan), while Peggy Ann Garner (as Francie) and Ted Donaldson (as Neeley Nolan) look on. Other notable players in this film include Joan Blondell as Aunt Sissy, Lloyd Nolan as Officer McShane, and James Gleason as McGarrity. The story takes place in Brooklyn in the year 1900 and is superbly directed and photographed with superlative performances by the entire cast.
Hohner produced the Tango model between 1953 and 1961. It has a very strong wooden frame and distinctive German reeds. It is lightweight enough to allow the player to stroll with the instrument, especially at a restaurant or wedding or public gathering. This design features 34 treble keys and 96 bass buttons, somewhat smaller than the typical 41/ 120 treble key and bass button configuration.
This Hohner features a rather sweet sound on traditional folk music and is versatile enough to play just about any genre of music from contemporary to Classical. The scene where Johnny Nolan sings this song to Katie Nolan (James Dunn and Dorothy McGuire in "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn") remains one of the most dramatically moving moments in this 1945 Elia Kazan film. All of the players in this film offer superlative performances, especially James Dunn who won an Oscar for his memorable portrayal of an imaginative artist and loving husband struggling to provide for his family. Equally impressive in their respective roles are Dorothy McGuire and Peggy Ann Garner as well as the rest of the cast. One feels the anguish of the artist's soul as Johnny pours out the poetry of his spirit in "Annie Laurie," reaching for the beauty and release of the gift of music in a moment etched in time.
This Russian folksong pays tribute to the life of Stepan (Sten'ka) Timofeyevich Razin (1630-1671), a Cossack leader who revolted against wealthy nobility. Alexander Glazunov composed a symphonic poem to celebrate Razin's colorful history, and Dimitri Shostakovich composed a cantata upon this subject matter. Vasily Shukshin wrote a popular novel entitled "I Have Come to Give You Freedom" based upon the events of Razin's adventurous life. A popular folksong entitled "Ponizovaya Volnitsa" remembers Razin's legendary times, with the words "Volga, Volga mat' rodnaya," written by Dmitri Sadovnikov in 1883.
A film was produced in 1908 entitled "Stenka Razin," directed by Vladimir Romashkov, featuring a screenplay by Vasily Goncharov and music by Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov.
Performed upon my vintage 1950's Galanti accordion, a 4/5 reed instrument in LMMH configuration. The bassoon reeds are in the single tone chamber. Although the Galanti company ceased production of accordions many years ago, they now produce pipe organs worldwide under the name Ahlborn-Galanti. Many thanks to my friend Max for his enthusiasm for Galanti accordions. Without Max's help I would not have found this very beautiful instrument nor fully appreciated the legendary qualities of this venerable brand.
I love the beautiful Italian reeds of this vintage Galanti and also the wonderfully shaped ergonomic design which allows the instrument to be played for hours at a time without fatigue or stress. I am not sure of the exact date of manufacture of this accordion, but I have seen similar models advertised in 1948, 1949 and through the early 1950's.
Wedding Dance - Good Luck to the Bride and Groom
A traditional Jewish song arranged by accordionist, scholar and teacher Elsie M. Bennett (nee Blum), published by Pietro Deiro Publications in New York City. The title of this collection is "Hebrew and Jewish Songs and Dances, Volume One," with all of the selections compiled and arranged by Elsie Bennett, recipient of a Master of Arts degree from Columbia University Teachers College (New York) and a Music Bachelors degree from Wayne University in Detroit. This song is also spelled "Choson Kale Mazel Tov," or "Good Luck to the Bride and Groom." Henry Lefkowitch of Metro Music Company and Harry Coopersmith of the Jewish Education Committee of New York also helped in the compilation of this music collection, with Ester Youlous and Ester Golbert assisting in editing of the text. Performed upon my vintage 1950's Hohner Tango II M accordion, a 3/5 reed instrument in LMM configuration. Although I have never been married, I think that this song would be a lovely addition to any festive wedding celebration.
Hohner produced this model between 1953 and 1961. It is a fairly lightweight accordion but with a very strong wooden frame. The reeds feature that distinctive Hohner sound with a nice range of treble voices and a very deep bass section. Of the nine treble registers four are repeats, giving five different treble sounds. The bass features three different registers with an especially powerful master switch. You can stroll with this accordion because of the manageable weight, allowing the player to entertain guests at a restaurant, public gathering, wedding or special event. This accordion sounds perfectly at home with European melodies, Latin American styles and traditional American folk songs, as well as being versatile enough for Classical music, contemporary music and improvisation.