Museum Collections 

 Estate Holdings 

Charles Magnante (7 December 1905 - 30 December 1986)

Charles Magnante (1905–1986) was an American piano-accordionist, arranger, composer, author and educator. His artistry helped raise the image of the accordion from an instrument considered suitable only for folk music to an instrument accepted in many music genres.
Charles Magnante was born in New York City on 106th Street in an area known as Harlem. From very humble roots his unique career placed him on the pinnacle of accordion history. No one has ever equaled his success as the ultimate world accordion artist. 
Throughout his long and fantastic career, Magnante has consistently been considered by many to be the most finished accordionist of all time. He was famous for many years as a top radio, television star and recording artist. He was associated with some of the worlds finest conductors and orchestra leaders performing either as a soloist or a member of the orchestra. 
It could be said that Magnante's musical career began at the age of five when he sand along with his Dad, a popular amateur accordionist, who used to play for many Italian weddings. At the age of seven, he was stealing his father's prized accordion from the closet and teaching himself to play by ear. At sixteen he was turning down many offers to tour professionally as he felt traveling would take up time which should be spent in continuing his studies. 
During the peak of his career he reached the point where he was doing as many as thirty one radio broadcasts and an average of about eight recording dates in a single week. His audiences ranged from small intimate groups to packed auditoriums of three thousand. One of his greatest thrills was at the Civic Stadium in Buffalo, NY when he played for an audience of over forty thousand people. 
One of Magnante's best known compositions is the novelty solo "Accordiana" which he composed in exactly twenty minutes. His textbooks, arrangements, and original compositions are numbered by the hundreds and include popular, classical, jazz, and boogie-woogie. 
As an outlet from his strenuous career in music, Magnante engaged in the sport of big game hunting as much as possible. He had taken over fifty head of big game and was a member of the exclusive Campfire Club of America which is located in Braircliff Manor, about thirty five miles from New York City. His hunting expeditions in the US, Canada and Mexico brought him trophies of antelope, deer sheep, moose, caribou and grizzly bear along with numerous other species. His prize mount was a one thousand pound grizzly and many of his hunting experiences were featured articles in a number of sports magazines. 
Magnante's life is the story of a man who overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles to achieve success in his chosen field and become a legend in his own lifetime. He passed away on Dec. 30, 1986 having given the world a legacy of accordion achievements unlikely to be equalled by anyone in the discernible future.

Pietro Deiro (1888 – 1954)
pietro diero

Pietro Deiro was one of the most influential accordionists of the first half of the 20th century.
Born in Salto Canavese, Italy, the younger brother of Guido Deiro, he emigrated to the United States in 1907 to live with his Uncle Frederico and work in the coal mines of Cle Elum, Washington.

Pietro began playing Diatonic button accordion professionally in a tavern in Seattle in 1908. Within a few short months, his brother Guido (already an accomplished piano-accordionist in Europe) arrived in Seattle, and taught his brother how to play the piano accordion. Both brothers became minor celebrities on the vaudeville circuit; Guido in 1910 and Pietro at least by 1912.
Pietro recorded dozens of records for the Victor Talking Machine Company. After the demise of vaudeville during the Great Depression, he opened a successful accordion studio in Greenwich Village, New York City and established an accordion music publishing company: Accordion Music Publishing Company (AMPCO), later simply known as Pietro Deiro Publications.
He was the first president of the American Accordionists Association (1938) and promoted himself as "The Daddy of the Accordion," much to his brother Guido's chagrin. Pietro died in 1954.

Sylvia Prior (14 March 1922 - 9 August 2013)
sylviaSylvia Prior was born in Los Angeles, California on to Sylvester Louis Prior and Mary Louise Landon Prior. She passed away peacefully on August 9, 2013 in Ventura, California. Sylvia taught accordion and piano in Los Angeles and later in Oxnard for nearly 60 years, carrying on the business her father started in 1917. She loved teaching music and took great pride in knowing that she had touched the lives of countless students during her career. 
The most important thing in Sylvia's life, however, was her family, especially her two daughters. Sylvia was a devoted mother who taught by example the importance of kindness, generosity and compassion. She was one of a kind and will be greatly missed by her family and friends. 
Sylvia is survived by her daughters Adrian Jo Guidotti (David Ross) and Sylvana Louise Guidotti, M.D. (Kevin Wells), as well as her sister Patricia Kessen (Willard) and her nephew Jeffery Kessen. She is also survived by many devoted friends and her faithful dogs Gina and Scout. Sylvia was predeceased by her big sister Dorothymae Nelsen, husbands Tito Guidotti and Richard Westhouse, and her niece and goddaughter Dorothy Lee Pabst.
Hugo Herrmann (19 April 1896 - 7 September 1967)

hermannHugo Herrmann was a renowned composer, conductor, organist and accordionist. His first instrument was the organ, however in addition to this, he also studied piano, composition and conducting at "Hochschule für Musik" in Berlin. During a stay in the USA, he served as a conductor, concert musician, organist and church choir conductor in Detroit from 1923 to 1925. 

He wrote more than 90 compositions in various instrumentations, and served as the headmaster of "Trossinger Harmonika-Fachschule" (later "Städtische Musikschule Trossingen") from 1935 to 1963. 
He was appointed professor in Trossingen in 1950 and during his lifetime he wrote compositions for various genres, especially choral music and many works for accordion orchestra. Unfortunately, he lost many of his compositions during World War II. Numerous of his works are housed at the AWAM.

Willard A. Palmer (31 January 1917 - 30 April 1996)
bill palmerThe name of “Bill” Palmer is certainly the USA’s most influential in music pedagogy, critical editions, and performance. 
The American musician, composer, scholar and music educator, Willard (Bill) A. Palmer was a child prodigy. At 13, he played the piano on the radio. He studied both piano and accordion which were to form the basis of his musical endeavors.
After the war, Willard A. Palmer and his former student, Bill Hughes joined forces. They can be credited with the high point in accordion performance in the USA. Palmer collaborated with Hughes in producing a series of accordion method books which have had world wide impact. Sales ran into the millions making it the cornerstone of the Alfred Publishing Co. empire.
As an educator, Willard A. Palmer was ahead of his time - instrumental in carving an indisputable niche for the accordion at the university level. He and Hughes took the accordion beyond mere college acceptance, into the realm of establishing an actual accordion department within the University of Houston, where they were faculty members enabling young accordionists to earn both Bachelor's and Master's degrees with their instrument. Palmer also founded the "Palmer-Hughes Accordion Symphony", a superb orchestra which appeared at Carnegie Hall in New York. 
During his period as a professional accordionist, Willard A. Palmer sought to perfect his yet-evolving instrument and contributed significantly to the development of the stradella-free bass "convertor" accordion. He designed the "Palmer Emperor Convertor", and collaborated with Titano Accordions to achieve the realization of his creative ideas. 
Willard W. Palmer eventually became one of the most important editors of keyboard music in the United States. His editions of works of the masters are highly acclaimed and respected in the most elite music circles. Palmer is noted especially for his painstaking detail and care in the scholarly researching of original editions. He became Alfred Publishing Company's Senior Editor in 1964, researching the original manuscripts of the great masters of keyboard literature, with special emphasis on the study of performance practices in the Baroque, Classic and Romantic eras. He achieved recognition as the leading authority on Baroque ornamentation and lectured on the subject at various colleges, universities and music festivals throughout the country.
While achieving accolades for his educational works for other instruments, Willard W. Palmer remained a steadfast supporter of his beloved accordion. Willard A. Palmer's revolutionary teaching principles were reflected in 789 of his published works, which included an accordion method, several piano methods, a method for Hammond Chord Organ, a guitar method, hundreds of solo pieces and many choral works.

In 2013 his son, Willard Palmer, III, donated his father’s musical estate that includes one of the finest accordions of the museum (Titano Super Emperor V, 1996) and the decorous two-manual, eleven-pedal harpsichord (A. Cecil Taylor, 1979) that graces the concert hall.

 American Accordionists Association 

American Accordionists Association (AAA) (founded 1938)

The American Accordionists Association (AAA) was established on March 9, 1938 with Pietro Deiro serving as the first President. The organization holds an annual accordion festival. It has also commissioned works for accordion from more than 50 composers
The AAA has consistently attracted a national membership of outstanding instructors, concert artists, manufacturers, music publishers and individuals interested in the accordion. They have all shared a common conviction: to enhance the accordion's stature in the family of musical instruments through a cooperative effort. Today, after almost seven decades of working to broaden the public interest in the accordion, the American Accordionists’ Association serves as a central organization which co-ordinates the activities of those connected with the industry and gathers information pertinent to members and enthusiasts. 
While membership dues provide some of the income for the association, the majority of funds are primarily obtained through fund-raising functions which include regular programs of contests, concerts and journals. All of this is accomplished through the efforts of both the members and governing board directors who donate their services without compensation.

 The Deffner Legacy 

Faithe Deffner (17 March 1931 - 3 June 2014)
faithe deffner

Faithe Deffner was one of the most important spokesperson for the accordion was one of the first people to recognize the significance of our American accordion museum. As international manufacturer of Titano and Pancordion instruments, industry supplier, and publisher she stood as example and constant friend. 
She encouraged AWAM affiliation with the American Accordionists’ Association, International, and nominated Helmi for the “Honored Friend of the Accordion Award” which was unanimously approved by the 2006 General Assembluy Congress of Confédération Internationale des Accordéonistes (CIA). 
She has seen to major donations, and is recognized here as patron and emerita board member. Please visit the Deffner Legacy room in the museum.
A dynamic personality in the accordion world, Faithe Deffner (17th March 1931 to 3rd June 2014) translated her passion for accordion into action as she devoted her life's work to elevating and advancing the instrument worldwide.
Throughout her career, Faithe Deffner has participated in almost every aspect of the accordion world. Together with her late husband, Ernest Deffner, the Deffners set the standard for high quality accordion manufacturing, innovative design, publishing and music education. Their clients and collaborators are truly a Who’s Who in the accordion world.
The Deffner businesses celebrated 80 years in September of 2014. The firm includes Pancordion, Inc.,Titano Accordion Co., Pigini Accordions and Ernest Deffner Publications, which Faithe Deffner directed since 1971 when her husband passed away, until her recent retirement when the business under the same names came under the directorship of Frank Busso Junior. 
The real hallmark of Faithe Deffner's work was her vision to bring together accordion enthusiasts of all ages and from all corners of the world. Working on behalf of the American Accordionists’ Association as the organization’s president, Faithe Deffner introduced new concepts to bring public attention to the accordion. 
Whether helping to fill the decks of a cruise ship with 700 participating accordion enthusiasts playing Anchors Aweigh as they sailed past the Statue of Liberty, or staging the 2007 Coupe Mondiale in Alexandria, Virginia where it was attended by over 1,000 accordion enthusiasts, or arranging for Myron Floren to conduct six busloads of accordionists performing at the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, or collaborating with Lawrence Welk Resorts in a two-year “Search for the Hottest” accordionist, Ms. Deffner created numerous significant opportunities to publicly showcase talented accordionists.
She has also served on numerous boards and committees in many accordion organizations including American Accordionists’ Association (AAA), Accordion Industry Council, Confederation Internationale des Accordeonistes (CIA), Accordionists and Teachers Guild (ATG), International and the Accordion Federation of North America (AFNA). For over 50 years she has been a staunch supporter of AAA as a member of its board and serving longest as the association's President, becoming President Emerita.
In the mid 1960's, the Deffners purchased the Titano Accordion Company from Dorothy and Edward Traficante of Minneapolis, Minnesota. The firm moved to New York City and Faithe Deffner worked with Bill Palmer and Bill Hughes in the development of their extraordinary Titano concert instruments.
Over the years, Faithe Deffner worked to interest colleges and universities in the accordion as a major course of study. The first such program originated in 1946 at the University of Houston in Texas, where Bill Palmer introduced it to scores of young accordionists who majored on the instrument. Through Palmer's wide experience in the arena of higher education and his memorable concert work with the late Bill Hughes, the perfect beachhead was established as an example for other institutions to follow.
Culminating a glorious career in the accordion world, Faithe Deffner was elected vice president of the Confederation Internationale Des Accordeonistes for 2007 when she coordinated a memorable Coupe Mondiale in Alexandria, Virginia as a joint venture sponsored by the AAA and ATG. The event was a singular success attended by more than 1,000 accordion aficionados and occupying three hotels. Two ballrooms were constantly working and a gala concert was presented every evening. Orchestras and competitors came from many countries. The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC invited accordionists to do a half-hour program every evening throughout the week. 
Faithe's legacy will be remembered with profound respect and will be sadly missed by the entire accordion community.

Titano Accordions

From the birthplace of the accordion, Castelfidardo, Italy, come the world famous Titano Accordions. Over the years, renowned craftsmen have fashioned the superb Titano musical instruments, blending modern technology with the time-honored techniques handed down from one generation to the next. 

The firm originated with Ed and Dorothy Traficante in Minneapolis, Minnesota, who sought a quality instrument line to offer in their Traficante chain of music schools, which required accordions designed for trouble-free music education.

In 1965, Ernest Deffner purchased the Titano Accordion Company and gave the task of redirecting its scope to his wife, Faithe Deffner who had a solid background in publicity and public relations as well as working knowledge of instrument design and performance requirements. Over the years, the Ernest Deffner firm expanded the line, worked to develop accordion study programs at universities and colleges, and made great strides in broadening the Titano channels of distribution.

North American distribution grew substantially through a network of the foremost music schools and teachers serviced by the Deffner firm. Canadian sales mushroomed through the efforts of Fred Kent who operated Mid-West Musical Instruments of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, with his partner, Loren Cartwright. 
Titano quickly became the leading brand in the countries where it was sold.

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