from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
English:  Accordion , French:  accordéon , Italian:  Fisarmonica
Piano accordion and chromatic button accordion
Piano accordion and chromatic button accordion
classification Aerophone , keyboard instrument , hand-pull instrument
range depends on the instrument
Template: Infobox musical instrument / maintenance / sound sample parameters missing Related instruments

Bandoneon , concertina , harmonium , harmonica

The accordion (from French accordéon ) is a hand-drawn instrument (hand harmonica) in which the tone is generated by free-swinging, penetrating tongues and which not only produces single notes, but also (mechanically preset) chords , from which the name is derived.

It is one of the self-sounding interruption aerophones . All hand-drawn instruments that have the keyboard (keyboard or buttons) attached in an angled shape on the right side, the treble (treble part, melody side), are counted among the various types of accordion. This arrangement of the keyboard goes back to the first Viennese or the first French instruments.

The various types of concertina , such as the bandoneon , in contrast to the accordion, do not have an angled keyboard or preset chords.


There are a number of regional, sometimes colloquially-humorous names for the accordion or special designs such as accordion , hand piano , accordion , drawing organ , diatonic , hand organ , home air compressor , squeezebox , squeeze , Zugin , Quetschebüggel , Quetschn , Zerrwanst , Tretschrank , Schifferklavier , Mason piano .

The various terms and especially "accordion" and "harmonica" are used synonymously, but also as a distinction. The pig organ is a fictional device, but was set as a more general term. The regional differences in design, style of play and designation are so complex that the following presentation remains incomplete.

In the beginning, “harmonica” were the larger hand-drawn instruments that were always played with the right hand, i.e. the smaller type of physharmonica . Linguistically, there has been a certain exchange of names over the last two centuries, so the accordion is seen more as the large variant of the harmonica, there is no sharp definition of terms. The harmonica was originally chromatic. See history of the piano accordion .

In the popular area, terms are used exclusively for certain special forms. The term “accordion” is often used when it comes to more expensive, high-quality and heavier products that are also used for concert performance. The term “harmonica”, on the other hand, is used for lighter versions. There are exceptions: in Vienna the larger instruments were called “harmonica”. Regionally there are linguistic differences in the names, roughly it can be said that in Austria harmonica is actually used for the accordion, but often also as a short name for the Styrian harmonica , often in the form of an accordion. In Switzerland, the term hand organ is more commonly used. A new expression has recently been coined in German-speaking countries, namely Zuginstrument or, in the shortened form, simply Zugin or Ziach (especially in western Austria and Bavaria).

If you differentiate between the regions more precisely, many other terms are used in everyday language. It is therefore natural that people from different German-speaking regions associate the various names for such instruments with different instrument variants. The names for the instrument in the various languages ​​of the world are often derived from harmonica or accordion. In the English-speaking world, accordion is used as a generic term.

In order to avoid regional differences in terminology, the term “accordion” is primarily used in the article.


A simply built accordion

Like almost all hand-drawn instruments, an accordion consists of two parts ( treble and bass ) that are connected to one another by a bellows . By pulling the two parts apart and pressing them together, the air in the bellows is guided through the reed blocks in the two side parts. Depending on whether the same tones sound when pulling and pushing, a basic distinction can be made between alternating and monotonous instruments. Furthermore, a classification according to the type of key assignment in the treble is possible. In addition to the ones listed here, countless other variants are known. Dividing the variety of accordions into groups is difficult. Practically all classification systems have advantages and disadvantages as well as more or less numerous exceptions.

alternating tones



Reed blocks

Glued reed blocks

A sound post is the combination of cells in a group. The chambers can be glued to the housing directly in the musical instrument . However, if they are combined to form sound posts, they are usually screwed to the housing and can be removed.

The pulpits are mostly made of wood, but other instruments also use injection-molded polymer reed blocks. Wood plays an important role as a traditionally used material in sound post construction. In the processing essentially two processes are used: either the partition walls of the Kanz Ellen are glued as individual parts with a partition or a wood block is prepared by means of CNC - milling machine into the desired shape. The upper bar is usually made of a harder wood, as is the base plate (sole) with the sound openings. Some instruments also use sound posts that already contain the register slider in the sound post base. Polymer reed blocks offer the advantage of high dimensional accuracy while at the same time securing the reed plate and being insensitive to climatic fluctuations. Since the shape of the cockpit and the quality of the reed plates are primarily involved in the formation of the sound, a difference in sound between polymer and wood sound posts can no longer be subjectively determined on modern instruments; Polymer and wooden reeds can even be used together in one instrument without any problems. The arrangement of the reed plates on the reed posts varies greatly depending on the particular instrument variant. In the treble, however, they are almost always smaller at one end than at the other. The tone holes are often rectangular to enable the use of register slides. On most instruments, the reed plates are glued to the reed posts with a special wax mixture. With modern French concert instruments and with old Viennese instruments you will find a fastening with screws, hooks and / or nails, the reed plate is placed on the sound post with a seal made of leather or cork. Sometimes there is no intermediate layer. Especially with the French musette tuning, a timbre rich in overtones is desired and promoted by the special type of attachment and construction of the reed blocks. Bass reeds require special attention.

Reed posts for bass accordions are usually constructed in a special way (folding) so that the response and the sound are optimized. On old instruments, the wax becomes hard and reed plates can become loose, causing the sound to rattle.

Reed plates and valves

Reed plates and valves are an essential part of the accordion and are primarily decisive for the achievable sound quality in terms of volume, timbre, dynamics and tonality. Machine-made reed plates are used in most instruments. "Handmade reed plates" are used for the highest demands.


On the right-hand side (bass part, accompanying side) as well as on the left-hand side (treble part, melody side) there is the possibility of greatly varying the timbres by adding up to six choirs (six reeds with reed plates and reeds) through so-called registers . Registers are rarely used on diatonic instruments (the Cajun Accordion is an exception ). Whether or not registers are offered depends to a large extent on the manufacturer and make. Very simple instruments have no registers. Register slides are used to close the sound openings for individual sets of reed plates .


The two housing parts of the right built treble with the keyboard (piano keys) or the keyboard (buttons) and left-built bass with the bass mechanics meet primarily the task of providing the necessary mechanical basis for the built-in parts, but they also include the enclosed air space close to the environment as long as no valves (flaps) are opened. The type of construction only contributes to a limited extent to the sound component of an instrument. The size of the free inner volume has a certain share on the sound quality in relation to volume and timbre, as the material used makes a small contribution. The main priority is that the body is as stable and light as possible. Spruce was traditionally used, but other types of solid wood were also used. However, the use of multi-ply wood soon found its way, which leads to good acoustic results. With the accordion, the principle applies that the body parts should not vibrate as much as possible, similar to loudspeaker boxes. Thus a light instrument is often acoustically worse than a somewhat heavier one. It is therefore not surprising that one-offs made of Plexiglas will satisfy the player in terms of sound. However, plexiglass is twice as heavy as plywood. On the other hand, plastic materials have a negative influence on the sound behavior. Housing parts made of aluminum and magnesium have also been successfully built. Aluminum is often used for the filling (the bottom on which the flaps rest) and for the mechanics.


The surfaces were originally treated like other objects made of wood, but celluloid coatings appeared with the first plastics in the 1920s . Many manufacturers are already replacing this process with an environmentally friendly special multi-layer coating. The latest trend for concert instruments is again instruments in a solid wood look with clear lacquer surfaces. Today's mainline products from China and Europe are usually designed with rounded housings. However, multilayer wood is difficult to use for rounded enclosures with a natural look.

Treble and bass construction

The constructions of the treble and bass differ relatively strongly depending on the manufacturer, although a large number of supplied parts are used.

Influence on the type of construction by the manufacturer

The two French producers, the Cavagnolo company in Lyon and the Maugein company in Tulle, manufacture almost all parts of chromatic accordions except for the reed plates themselves. The Harmona company, with the brand name Weltmeister, also produces everything itself except for the reed plates. The same applies to instruments from Russia ( Tula ) and the Czech instruments with the name Delica. Instruments from Italy are known under many brand names, but there are only a few independent, independent producers who cooperate closely with one another, so the instruments are very similar in terms of construction and mechanical components. Most of the luxury instruments come from Italy, a lot is imported from China, as is the case with student instruments from Hohner. However, at Hohner, development, completion and control are in Trossingen.

Influencing the type of construction by the equipment

Up to five choirs are built into the treble, the top can be equipped with a blind, some instruments were built with a top that can be locked in sections. The design of the convertible top has a relatively strong effect as a sound filter and has a not insignificant influence on the sound. The installation of a cassotto is a variant that occurs relatively often. The quality of the joints in the treble varies considerably, and cheaper instruments often do without an additional joint. Teflon is often used for the guides of the keys and the joints, but ball joints are also used in some cases. The flaps are also made quite different in some cases, so they are not always equally tight and noiseless. Not every player has the same mechanical needs. The pressure required to move the keys can also vary, and the stroke of the keys is not always the same on different instruments. It is therefore advisable to compare as many instruments as possible, but the inexperienced usually does not have the necessary sensitivity to notice the differences. The bass constructions differ in the mechanics in a similar way as in the treble. There are very significant differences in the possible fixtures. Even if there is no visual difference in the number of buttons, the tone and sound generated can be extremely different. Most of the instruments, however, have relatively simple, almost standardized equipment (see also bass systems ). The installation of the reed blocks in the bass is not generally uniform. There is also the option of integrating simple helicon voice plates into the bass of a chromatic accordion. Twelve simple helicon voice plates are built in above the chord sound post, this overlying sound post with the helicon voice plates is connected with an air duct down to the bass floor. The helicon tuning plates are thus arranged parallel to the bass floor. The corresponding octave reed plate per tone is built into the standing air duct. Thus, in this variant, three reed plates, two of which are accompanying voice plates, are mounted standing on the accompanying sound post. Hohner now uses a similar assembly form of reed plate installation in the bass for the top class. Only no helicon voice plates are built in, but the usual baritone dimensions. The extended air duct with this type of installation leads to a better response (reaction) of the tones, even when using the same reed plates, and overall to a better tone quality in terms of volume and sound. A producer of chromatic instruments from Italy (Stradella) had installed all reed plates in the bass on two levels in some models. This leads to very good results, but is extremely difficult to achieve. The company has ceased operations.

Chromatic accordion

Keys accordion

The chromatic accordion is a type of accordion. A distinction must be made between instruments with a keyboard ( piano accordion ) or a button keyboard ( chromatic button accordion ) on the treble side.

The Schrammelharmonika is the forerunner of the chromatic button accordion.

Handle systems

Button handle

The instruments are made with up to five rows (or six rows in the Serbian Dugmetara especially for Beltuna's Balkan music), whereby the inner two (or three) rows represent a repetition of existing rows. There are B-handle and C-handle systems. The rows from the inside to the outside of the C-handle are swapped for the B-handle.

The Von Jankó keyboard

This key assignment was invented by Paul von Jankó before 1900 ; in German-speaking countries it is also known as “ Beyreuther ”, “6-plus-6” or by the Klingenthal company HARMONA AKKORDEON GMBH as Logicordion. The Jankó keyboard has not found widespread use in the accordion, but used instruments also appear on the market from time to time. In the case of custom-made products, usually ten pieces have to be purchased. The keyboard can be constructed with buttons as well as with keys. Some instruments were offered with prismatic keys, resulting in a honeycomb-like appearance of black and white keys. A piano keyboard can be easily adapted to this system by simply slipping over another keyboard level, but this is more possible with pianos for structural reasons. Basically, this key assignment manages with two rows of keys, but there are mostly repeat rows (couplings). Three or four rows are common. Even with a three-row version, compared to the piano key arrangement, there is a uniform fingering pattern for all chord types regardless of the key, therefore similar advantages as with the C or B fingering. The octave is one key width closer together than on the piano keyboard. Therefore, this keyboard can be seen as a kind of hybrid of both systems.

Bass systems

There are two basic bass systems.

Under stradella Bass , (also Manual II bass or standard Bass called) describes the arrangement of the bass tones in fifths in the vertical direction with the most commonly used major, minor, seventh and diminished sevenths in a horizontal arrangement. The pitch range is limited to one octave, although, depending on the design and register, up to five octaves sound simultaneously for the bass notes and up to three octaves at the same time for the chords. Almost all accordions are built with this Stradella bass .

In contrast to this, the melody bass (also Manual III bass ) does not have chord buttons, but has a pitch range of up to five octaves and thus enables the melody to be played at the correct pitch. The melody bass (three to four rows) is either upstream or downstream of the standard bass or can alternatively be played on the same buttons (by switching the rear four rows of the standard bass with additional buttons) to melody bass. Such a so-called converter bass is primarily used on higher-quality instruments. As with the button accordion, there are systems with a C-grip or B-grip.

There are also “free bass” systems on the market.

Bass couplings (doubled tones) with their own switch can also be found on large concert instruments such as the bayan .

Diatonic accordion

Diatonic accordion (alternating tones)

A diatonic accordion (in Germany often only called the hand harmonica or Viennese ) is - in contrast to the chromatic accordion , but similar to the diatonic harmonica - has an alternating tone and diatonic structure. When pushing and pulling, most keys on the harmonica produce a different tone. In addition, not all keys (or keys) can be played in the same simple manner, but only those provided for the respective row. There are corresponding handwriting systems ( tablatures ) in various forms with a notation tailored to the instrument.

The diatonic instruments are on the market in various forms. The so-called “ Styrian harmonica ” or the Czech Heligonka instruments are widely used. There are only minor differences in construction. The original Viennese models without the same tone are also very common worldwide. The Italian diatonic models essentially correspond to the original Viennese models.

Single -row instruments, so-called Cajun instruments, are still very common . Double row instruments are also very popular in much of the world. The double row is a special form in Ireland. With this Irish accordion , the two diatonic rows are not a fifth apart, but only a semitone. This creates an instrument that is actually chromatic, but still remains in structure with alternating tones. Other variants of the key assignments are also in use.

The Russian Garmoshka (which translated means harmonica again) looks similar, but is monotonous. The German concertina and the Anglo concertina are outwardly strongly differing in their design, but also diatonic instruments.

Handle systems

The knob grip instruments are manufactured with up to six rows. There is a very large variety of key assignments, the variations to the original Viennese model are often relatively small, but are important for playing technique. The club model and the Schwyzerörgeli occupy the third treble row with semitones.

Bass systems

Basically, the bass side can have a similar or identical structure to that of chromatic instruments. This is the case with the Scottish accordion . The most common, however, are alternating basses with around four buttons per corresponding row on the treble. The assignment and arrangement of the buttons varies greatly. The basic pattern of the assignment is almost always such that, at least when pressed, the keynote and accompaniment of the tonic for the corresponding row sound, and when pulled, the dominant .

For more information, see the description of the individual instrument types.


Part of the history of the accordion is documented in the film The History and Construction of the Accordion by George Lindt, so the patent certificate and the manufacturing process are detailed.


The oldest known instrument that is based on the principle of penetrating reeds is the Chinese cheng . Apart from the basic principle of sound generation, the cheng has almost nothing in common with the accordion.

It is often assumed that the harmonica was the forerunner of the hand harmonica. First church organs and grand pianos (piano forte) were given registers with penetrating reeds (see predecessor of the harmonium ).

The direct forerunners of the harmonium, however, are the instruments called aeolines and physharmonics . The Aeoline was developed around 1810 by Bernhard Eschenbach together with his cousin Johann Caspar Schlimbach , both of whom were stimulated by the jew's harp. The Physharmonika was patented by Anton Haeckl in Vienna in 1821 . In 1824 Anton Reinlein received a patent in Vienna for an improvement on the hand harmonica.

The mass production of harmonica began before the production of the small diatonic instruments. In a pamphlet from the SIMPK Musical Instrument Museum in Berlin, which was published on the occasion of the exhibition "on everyone's lips", it says:

“The legend seems ineradicable that the Thuringian Friedrich Buschmann invented the harmonica . This thesis does not stand up to examination. Because the musician Buschmann speaks in a letter from 1828 of the invention he has just made. Commercial production in Vienna had already started years earlier. "

"There is evidence that" Chinese style harmonica "were sold in Vienna in 1825."

- On everyone's lips

As early as 1827/28, Christian Messner built the first harmonica in Trossingen. In 1829 Charles Wheatstone patented the Symphonium , a kind of luxury harmonica. He improved the German wind instrument. At that time such instruments were known at least in wealthy circles or among musicians. World exhibitions were also already common practice to present new technical achievements to the public.

Demian's patent

With his patent from May 6th 1829 in Vienna , Cyrill Demian used the term “accordion” for his new instrument for the first time, since three to five-note chords were built into each key. The extremely small version was new. The simplest variant was only played with the left hand and was therefore a pure accompanying instrument. This instrument was alternating (i.e. different tones sounded when pulled and pushed) and diatonic (i.e. only the tones of certain scales can be played per row). This alternation was also new, as the large instruments built at the same time were monotonous. Because of its small size and low price, the instrument spread very quickly. This enabled pilgrims to take the instrument with them on their travels, which was not possible with large harmonicas.

Cyrill Demian and other instrument makers in Vienna also built larger instruments in a similar way. Instructions for playing melody instruments are known from 1833. By 1856 there were already 120 harmonica makers working in Vienna. A list of the most famous is contained in the article Schrammelharmonika .


In 1833, the well-known Viennese composer and conductor Adolph Müller published instructions for learning the diatonic harmonica yourself. The text of the introduction shows that many different types of instruments were already being built at this time. He recommended a "perfect instrument" that has both a bass part and a treble part. These instruments had up to three rows of keys with all chromatic bass notes.

"On large, complete ACCORDIONS, with 20 or more keys, even smaller claves are attached to the bottom of the instrument, which give the half-tones missing in the upper register and a full octave bass tones, and sound unchanged by both pull and push."

Further development

The instruments in the simple design found widespread use very quickly:

  • In Paris, Demian's model as a French accordion was immediately copied and also changed. In the music magazine "LE MENESTREL" from 1834 it is reported that such an instrument came to Paris in 1831.
  • Even Carl Friedrich Uhlig took such an instrument to Chemnitz from a trip to Vienna. He changed it, but stuck to the diatonic and alternating key assignment. In 1834 he built his first instrument, which became known as the "German Concertina".
  • Heinrich Band expanded the range. In his instructions from 1846, Band wasn't sure how to classify his instrument. He writes: "Accordion school for 40- and 44-note accordions, [...] to learn [...] on the accordion or the accordion yourself." (Op. 1 Crefeld)
  • Paolo Soprani in Italy also built his first instruments based on Demian's example, and the first factory in Italy was established in 1863.
  • Concertina and accordion were the common names at that time.


  • In America the manufacture of harmonium developed very rapidly, so there were forty melodeon (organ) producers as early as 1840 . Thus this instrument developed in America practically at the same time as in Vienna and Paris. But an instrument based on the Demian model also quickly caught on.

"Melodeons were inexpensive, easy to move, and required a minimum of upkeep. These features were so attractive that by 1840 there were forty melodeon builders in the United States, with an annual product of $ 646,975, but reports listed only twenty pipe organ builders, with an annual product of $ 324,750 [13, p.132] "

- Orpha Caroline Ochse : The History of the Organ in the United States

Among other things, a catalog by C. Bruno & Son from 1881 attests to extensive imports from Europe. This catalog has over a hundred illustrations.

The German harmonica

Diatonic accordion, brand Lester


Heinrich Wagner got to know the construction of harmonicas and accordions from his brother-in-law Joseph Resch in Vienna. From 1836 he was still selling instruments that his brother-in-law made in Vienna, but soon started his own production, bringing more workers from Vienna to Gera. “His first assistants included the accordionist Resch, the bellows binder Auinger, the record maker Haberkamm and the tuner Volkmann.” He hired apprentices and workers and by 1852 employed around 100 people. In 1867 there were already 380 employees. The company was dissolved in 1890 and the brand name was taken over by the Buttstädt company.


In 1845 Fridrich Gessner founded a factory in Magdeburg . In 1855 he is said to have employed 150 workers. In 1858 the company Traugott Schneider followed. Gessner was sold to Hohner in 1909, Schneider to Dörfel in Brunndöbra. Many more companies were founded in the following period, but many gave up after the First World War. At the beginning of the Second World War there were only three companies left: A. Pitschler & Sohn, H. Buttstädt, F. Törfl.


The two companies Pietschmann & Sohn and Kalbe were established in Berlin , also around 1860 . Kalbe was sold to Hohner in 1910 , Pietschmann & Sohn was dissolved in 1910.


Adolph Herold was a carpenter at the Fridrich Geßner company in Magdeburg. In 1852 he brought an instrument to Klingenthal and built it in his father's workshop. Many local harmonica makers were encouraged to build their own accordions. As early as 1862 there were 20 factories with 334 workers in Klingenthal and the surrounding area. The annual production at that time was 214,500 pieces (see Vogtländischer Anzeiger of July 19, 1860). Such numbers were not even achieved later by the Hohner company.

Altenburg and Siegburg

The company Kahnt & Uhlmann ( Altenburg / Thuringia) manufactured " Cantulia " accordions and bandoneons since 1880. In 1937 Walter Neuerburg reestablished an accordion factory in Siegburg . The trademark of the cantulia accordion was the red "C" on the C key. The factory remained closed during World War II. Despite the successful resumption of production after the war, the company ceased to exist on December 31, 1957.

Triptis - Oberpöllnitz

The company "Friedrich Töpel Harmonikafabrik" was founded in August 1872 in Wittchenstein near Triptis by the harmonica maker Friedrich August Töpel as a small manufacture in his parents' property. In 1877 an own factory was built in Oberpöllnitz. In 1907, after the major fire of 1905, the factory was expanded by a third of the production area, which involved a change of ownership. In 1911 the name was changed to "Friedrich Töpel Harmonikafabrik AG". Around 1935 100 people were employed. Under the management of Paul Biedermann, who was also the main shareholder, the company rose to become the largest accordion factory in Thuringia. In 1961, with the death of Paul Biedermann, accordion production at the Oberpöllnitz location was stopped. The last series of instruments was produced with 34/80 basses for world champion Klingenthal. The protected brand name is "SOLO".


In 1903 M. Hohner and A. Koch began producing accordions. Before the First World War, there were four large companies in Trossingen : Matthias Hohner, Ands. Koch, Ch. Weiß, Chr. Messner & Co. In 1907, after many other companies had already been integrated, the Hohner company became the largest musical instrument factory in the world. At its peak in 1939 it employed 4,000 people.

Self-playing accordions

There are many varieties of self-playing accordions. The Magic Organa is a historical instrument .

Machine manufacturing

Julius Bertold made a significant contribution to mechanical production from 1870 onwards. He was a locksmith in Klingenthal and invented and built machines that simplified the production of reed plates and accordions. These included punching and milling for reeds, presses for bellows production, woodworking machines and cutting machines.

Well-known accordion makers at that time were: CA Seydel , IC Herold, GA Dörfel, Dörfel-Steinfelser & Co., FA Böhm , Otto Weidrich, Karl Eschbach, Ernst Leiterd, FA Rauner A. G., Robert Mühlmann, Gebrüder Gündel.

Electronic and digital accordions

Electronic accordion player

Similar to the piano (e.g. e-piano ) there were also electronic variations on the accordion in order to expand its variety of sounds.

The first electronic accordions were built by the Italian company Farfisa in the 1960s . In the 1970s, the fully electronic Elektravox accordion from Hohner , where the bellows served as a volume swell , was popular with solo entertainers . A further development in the 80s were accordions from the Hohner Vox series, which were on the one hand normal accordions and on the other hand electronic organs . Back then, the sound of electronic voices was still very unnatural and most comparable to that of home organs .

In the 1990s, conventional accordions began to be retrofitted with a MIDI module. These midi accordions are hybrids which, in addition to normal playing, allow midi signals to be fed into external sound modules (expanders).

The latest in electronic accordions are digital instruments such as the Roland V accordions. With these, the sound and feel (including bellows technique) of conventional accordions are imitated as authentically as possible. By sampling not only are sounds like modern - different accordion, but synthesizers - the variety of sounds mapped all other instruments.

See also


The accordion can be learned at music schools.

The instrument was able to establish itself at universities , especially in contemporary chamber music. Several institutes in Germany - including in Bremen , Trossingen , Freiburg im Breisgau , Würzburg , Weimar, Lausitz University of Applied Sciences in Cottbus, Hanover , Essen , Wuppertal and Nuremberg - offer correspondingly specialized courses (KA, KP, composition, teaching). The Hohner Conservatory in Trossingen (not to be confused with the Musikhochschule at the same location) occupies an interesting special position , where, among other things, conductors are trained in the accordion orchestra made up of fellow students . The diatonic instruments have also found access to the universities. Styrian harmonica studies are taught at the conservatories in Linz , Salzburg , Graz , Klagenfurt , Innsbruck and Munich.


Italian accordion made by Brandoni

Matthias-Hohner AG in Trossingen is one of the largest accordion manufacturers . The soloist models from the “Morino” and “Gola” series and the middle class model “Atlantic” are particularly popular around the world. At the end of the 1990s, Matthias-Hohner AG was sold to Asian investors, so that some of the instruments and especially the components are manufactured in China. Only a small number of employees remained in Trossingen. Another German manufacturer in Klingenthal is the company "HARMONA AKKORDEON GMBH" with the brand name Weltmeister . It is the oldest accordion factory in the world (since approx. 1852), which “re-emerged” from the VEB Klingenthaler Harmonikawerke after the reunification . Accordions are still developed and manufactured in Germany with a vertical range of manufacture of up to 95%, see also: History of accordion construction in Klingenthal . An internationally known master instrument is the "Supita", which is in demand in its current version as Supita II in different variants for orchestral use as well as for solo purposes and studio productions. Craft businesses such as Öllerer , Schneeberg and Hartenhauer in Germany manufacture a considerable number of instruments.

In Italy there are around 50 accordion makers in Castelfidardo and the surrounding area - well-known names here are Dallape, Guerrini, Beltuna, Bugari , Ballone Burini, Borsini, Brandoni (Bompezzo family, one of the brand names is byMarco), Castagnari, Menghini (today's company name Suani, with the brand names Scandalli SEM, Paolo Soprani), Pigini and Victoria. In Finland there is Lasse Pihlajamaa (today Pigini) and others, in Eastern European countries Jupiter, Tula. Around 20,000 diatonic harmonicas are produced in Austria each year ( Müller , Strasser , Schmidt , Novak , Jamnik , Zernig ).

The opinions about the quality and advantages of the individual brands are as diverse as the musicians. The multitude of technical components on the accordion means that the instruments are rarely completely manufactured by the manufacturers. Big brands also rely on suppliers for individual components. Therefore, it is not only decisive for the popularity of the instruments which brand and model it is, but also the time in which it was built.

Accordion music


The accordion literature could not develop until the 20th century, in line with the still young age of the instrument. There is now a wide range of contemporary works of all genres and degrees of difficulty in different formations from solo to integration into symphonic orchestras, v. a. but in chamber music. In addition, it is possible to play works from the piano and organ literature on the accordion with melody bass - if carefully selected. Baroque works are particularly suitable here (for example by Johann Sebastian Bach and Domenico Scarlatti ). At the same time, the musical epochs dating back to before the invention of the instrument were made accessible through a wealth of transcriptions.

During the early 20th century, a number of free bass accordion instrumentalists also created sophisticated compositions suitable for performance in the concert hall. In the 1950s, John Serry senior composed his American Rhapsody in the "Orchestral Jazz" style for Stradella bass accordion. The composer transcribed it for melody bass accordion in 1963 . In the 1960s he composed his Concerto in C Major for Bassetti Accordion . The composition was written for the Giulietti melody bass accordion.

Only a small proportion of original literature and available accordion extracts are dependent on the range and / or technical possibilities of the button accordion . The normal range of fa ′ ′ ′ for the piano accordion with 120 basses has become established as the standard, especially for orchestral voices with the exception of the bass part.

It is common practice for soloists to play non-original literature (especially for organ) in their own versions, which exploit the individual limits of instrument and player more than is usual in accordion extracts.

Accordion concert

An accordion concert is an instrumental concert for accordion as a solo instrument and orchestra or chamber orchestra. Several composers have written solo concerts for accordion and orchestra.

The first such concert dates from 1937; it was composed by Feodosiy Rubtsov (1904–1986) and premiered in the Leningrad Philharmonic by Pavel Gvozdev . Hugo Herrmann composed the first accordion concert in Germany in 1940 (dedicated to Aladar Krikkay), followed by others by Fred Malige (1942), Hermann Zilcher (1947), Hugo Herrmann 2nd concert (1948/49), Gerhard Mohr (1953) and Wolfgang Jacobi (1958).

An important interpreter for the development of the accordion was the Dane Mogens Ellegaard , who worked with the Danish composer Ole Schmidt . His composition “Symphonic Fantasy and Allegro” op. 20 from 1958 is considered a milestone. Other composers from Scandinavia followed, such as Torbjörn Lundquist , Niels Viggo Bentzon (1963) and Per Nørgård (1968). Arne Nordheim composed the famous concerto "Spur" for Ellegaard in 1975. In 1959 Václav Trojan wrote "Pohádky" (fairy tale), which is still played regularly. In the United States, Henry Cowell , Alan Hovhaness , Roy Harris , Carmelo Pino , Paul Creston and Carmine Coppola composed accordion concerts in the 1960s . In 1962, Jean Wiener created a concert for this line-up in France.

Thanks to the efforts of important accordionists such as Friedrich Lips , Geir Draugsvoll , Joseph Macerollo , Italo Salizzato , John Serry senior , Stefan Hussong and Teodoro Anzellotti , the repertoire grew in the years that followed. Well-known composers such as Sofia Gubaidulina , Jukka Tiensuu , Kalevi Aho , Gija Kanscheli and Toshio Hosokawa have composed accordion concerts.

Accordion orchestra

An accordion orchestra (2014)

The accordion orchestra is a body of sound that only consists of accordion players, so all instruments have the same timbre.

At the beginning of the development there was the sole use of diatonic instruments in the so-called harmonica orchestra. The first orchestras of this type were founded around 1925 after the First World War. Advances in instrument making meant that the accordion, with its switchable timbres, found its way into harmonica orchestras. The preference for the piano accordion and the button accordion changed its internal structure. That eventually became decisive for literature. The prerequisites were created so that an accordion orchestra style of its own could develop.

There are three types of orchestral accordion playing together, but they cannot be strictly separated from one another:

  • the large accordion orchestra (20 to 30 players)
  • the accordion ensemble (no more than two players per voice)
  • the accordion playgroup (mostly as a quintet)

Bass, electronium or keyboards , drums , percussion and timpani are used as additional instruments. Sometimes a double bass is also added.

Accordion big band

See also the corresponding section in : Big Band


The German Harmonica Association e. V. (DHV) is one of the largest German amateur music associations with over 120,000 active members. Most of the members are organized in the more than 1000 member associations which, in addition to training and further education for the players, also run an orchestra and hold regular events. The DHV was founded on the initiative of the harmonica manufacturer HOHNER in 1931. The association's headquarters are in Trossingen. Jochen Haußmann (MdL BW) has been president since September 2013. The association is registered at the local court in Spaichingen and is divided into various regional associations (such as the Bavarian State Association), which in turn can be subdivided into several districts and district associations (such as the Karlsruhe district). More than 75% of the members are young people and therefore youth work has always played a very important role at DHV. For this reason, a youth organization of the association was founded in Baden-Württemberg in 1981, the Accordion Youth Baden-Württemberg . It bundles the interests of the young members and is present with a wide range of interdisciplinary offers. The accordion youth has its seat in Stuttgart. The chairman of the youth association is Winfried Kaupp.


The largest playable accordion in the world, also mentioned in the Guinness Book of Records , is located in Castelfidardo . It is 2.53 meters high and 1.90 meters long, 85 centimeters deep and weighs around 200 kilograms. It was built from 2000 to 2001 in Castelfidardo by Giancarlo Francenella in over 1000 hours of work. It has 45 treble keys, 120 bass buttons and 240 reed plates. The instrument is a 5: 1 enlargement of a normal accordion.

A similarly sized accordion is located in the Musikinstrumenten-Museum in Markneukirchen , it is 1.80 meters high, has 128 treble keys and 423 bass buttons, 360 of which are sounding and weighs over 100 kilograms. This weight required the addition of wheels so that the instrument could be moved. The bellows can hold up to 2000 liters of air.

The accordion was built by Glaß and Schmidt . The construction is a masterpiece of craftsmanship and was an enormous amount of work. For this reason the reeds that were removed during World War II were not used again, which is why this accordion is no longer playable. The six-member female artist group who played the instrument between 1938 and 1940 performed in 1938 in the Kristallpalast in Leipzig , in the Apollo Theater in Nuremberg and in the Berlin Scala .

See also


  • The accordion player . Award-winning documentary by Biljana Garvanlieva. Christian Beetz . Germany 2006. 30 minutes. Gebrüder Beetz film production / 3sat “Girls stories”.
  • Schultze gets the blues . A film by Michael Schorr. Official homepage for the film
  • Accordion Tribe . A documentary about the music group of the same name by Stefan Schwietert.
  • The accordeon. A documentary film about the construction and history of the accordion by George Lindt (Favorite Song Records / DVD German / English)


  • Kokkola Winter Accordion Festival (Finland)
  • Accordion Festival Vienna (Austria)
  • Festival Internazionale Castelfidardo (Italy)
  • Accordion Acute Festival , Halle (Germany)
  • Festival Accordeoes do Mundo, Torres Vedras (Portugal)
  • International Accordion Festival Vilnius (Lithuania)
  • 67th COUPE MONDIALE of the Confédération Internationale des Accordéonistes (CIA) October 27 to November 2, 2014 in Salzburg (Austria) (organized by the Austrian Harmonica Association (HVÖ))
  • Word Music Festival Innsbruck
  • Akkordeon Café Dortmund (Germany) monthly open-stage event and exchange forum for accordion, harmonica and harmonica players, since 2008


  • Giovanni Gagliardi: Small Handbook of the Accordionist . New edition updated and expanded to include the Italian and French text and three letters from Gagliardi. (= Texts on the past and present of the accordion; Volume 2). Augemus, Bochum 2004, ISBN 3-924272-08-5 .
  • Hans-Peter Graf: Developments in a family of instruments. The Accordion Standardization Process . Lang, Frankfurt am Main 1998, ISBN 3-631-32841-9 (also dissertation, University of Bremen, 1996)
  • Ralf Kaupenjohann: The accordion. A short description of the most common types of instruments used in the Federal Republic of Germany today . (= Texts on the past and present of the accordion; Volume 1). Augemus, Bochum 1987, ISBN 3-924272-00-X .
  • Christoph Wagner: The accordion or the invention of popular music. A cultural story. Schott, Mainz 2001, ISBN 3-7957-2361-2 .
  • Septimus Winner: Winner's American instructor for the German accordion. Shaw, 1882 ( digitized )
  • Gotthard Richter: accordion. Handbook for musicians and instrument makers. 5th edition. Noetzel, Wilhelmshaven 2008, ISBN 3-7959-0569-9 .
  • Thomas Eickhoff: Cultural history of the harmonica. Schmülling, Kamen 1991, ISBN 3-925572-05-8 .
  • Wolfgang Eschenbacher: Music and music education with the accordion. Volume I – IV, Hohner, Trossingen 1993–1994, ISBN 3-920468-40-6 , ISBN 3-920468-41-4 , ISBN 3-920468-42-2 , ISBN 3-920468-43-0 .
  • Wolfgang Eschenbacher: Rudolf Würthner and the Hohner Orchestra . Schott Music, Mainz 1998, ISBN 3-920468-46-5 .
  • The Hohner Conservatory in Trossingen. Printer and publishing house Springer, Trossingen 2000, ISBN 3-9802675-2-0 .
  • C. Jacomucci (Ed.): Critical selection of accordion works composed between 1990 and 2010. Edizioni Tecnostampa, Loreto 2014, ISBN 978-88-87651-54-6 .
  • RIM Repertoirelijsten, deel 8 accordeon, Utrecht 1990 (Repertoire Informatie Centrum)
  • Johan de With: Draagbaar, sturdy, expressive. Het accordeon en zijn related. Uitgeverij KLANK, Stadskanaal 2006, ISBN 90-8721-001-9 .

Web links

Commons : Accordion  album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: accordion  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. “It is becoming an avant-garde instrument, although still not everyone knows what the accordion is capable of." Christina Appert: The accordion: pig organ or avant-garde instrument? 2010.
  2. Website of the Beyreuther Musikprinzip
  3. Lit: MGG 4 (1996); NGroveD 10 (2001) [Harmonica];
  4. ^ KL Röllig: About the harmonica. 1787.
  5. FK Bartl: News from the harmonica. 1796.
  6. FK Bartl: Treatise on the keyboard harmonica. 1798.
  7. On everyone's lips. P. 43, ISBN 3-922378-20-X .
  8. H.-P. Graf: Developments in a family of instruments: The accordion's standardization process. 1998.
  9. ^ H. Luck: The bellows instruments. Your historical development until 1945. 1997.
  10. ^ A. Mauerhofer in Studia instrumentorum musicae popularis 7th 1981; Hopfner 1999.
  11. ^ W. Maurer: Accordion. 1983.
  12. School for Accordion by Adolph Müller , a set of instructions for learning the diatonic harmonica yourself
  13. ^ Orpha Caroline Ochse: The History of the Organ in the United States. P. 112, ( ).
  14. ^ C. Bruno & Son: musical instruments, strings ... 1881 ( - pages 24 to 97 are missing).
  15. C. Bruno & Son: musical instruments, strings… approx. 1890, with many hand-colored illustrations. S. 69-102 ( Textarchiv - Internet Archive ).
  16. ^ A b Emil Fischer: On the history of the harmonica industry in Gera . Part 1. In: Zeitschrift für Instrumentenbau . tape April 24 , 1903, p. 963-965 .
  17. Fabio G. Giotta: A letter, Comprehensive History of the Cordovox and Other Electronic Accordions.
  19. ^
  21. ^ The Library of Congress Copyright Office, American Rhapsody , publisher: Alpha Music Company, New York, NY, USA, composer: John Serry, 1957.
  22. ^ The Library of Congress Copyright Office. Concerto in C Major for Bassetti Accordion , composer: John Serry, June 4, 1968, Copyright # EP247602
  23. ^ Marion S. Jacobson: Squeeze This - A Cultural History of the Accordion in America. University of Illinois Press, Urbana 2012, ISBN 978-0-252-08095-1 , p. 61.
  24. Irving Settel: A pictorial history of the radio . Grosset & Dunlap, New York 1960 and 1967, p. 146, LCCN  67-023789 (see photo)
  26. ^ Website of the Musikinstrumenten-Museum in Markneukirchen
  27. Official homepage of the festival
  28. Official homepage of the festival
  29. Official homepage of the festival
  30. / Official homepage for the festival
  32. World Music Festival Innsbruck. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on August 23, 2016 ; Retrieved December 5, 2017 .
  33. ^ Accordion Café Dortmund