Out-of-work silent-film players push piano-accordion agenda?
I read today on an accordion list that out-of-work silent-film piano players pushed the popularity of the piano accordion. (This is a “once upon a time,” post.) Got me thinking about why button accordions aren’t played very much in English-speaking North America. Please pardon (or enjoy) my accordion-geek/history rambling:
Here’s Guido Deiro from a New York Star newspaper advertisement for Deiro’s first performances at “The New York Palace” (week of April 21, 1913). [“The Palace” was the top stage in North America. The biggest of the big-time. Deiro was a Rock Star.]
I believe piano accordions became popular because it was easier for dealers in North America to sell only one style of keyboard, rather than to try to stock five or six different regional European systems (C/Griff B/Griff Finnish….) The piano keyboard style was sold as “new! modern!” and “not like the old-country!” and simply saved the dealer tons of money. Certainly by 1930, the piano acc was almost the only one being sold in the States.
Meanwhile the accordion was rising into its “boom-time” craze which lasted from the late 1930s until 1960 or so. Millions of piano accordions were sold. I’ve actually heard that that’s partly what eventually drove the accordion under – they saturated the market with good machines, until they didn’t have any customers left to sell to. Nowadays, we reap the benifits of their unsustainable business plan. The fact that they built so many accordions so well may be the only reason anybody can afford a decent accordion today. I don’t see any young people buying new accordions – they cost thousands of dollars! Our “accordion renaissance” floats on this sea of used accordions. Lesson? Take care of what you’ve got, those days probably aren’t coming back any time soon.