Red,” also known as A. Cecil Taylor Opus V, was built for
the late Dr. Willard A. Palmer in 1979, by Dr. A. Cecil Taylor,
a dentist from Houston who was also a harpsichord aficionado. It
is a two manual instrument with the following disposition 16',
8', 8', 4'. It also has a nasal stop, a peau de buffle stop and
English lute stops. This
magnificent instrument adorns the stage of the Hanni Strahl
Concert Hall. More instrumnets will be added as the
documentation and pictures are made available.
two historic accordions were installed with much fanfare in A
World of Accordions Museum at 1401 Belknap Street in Superior,
Wisconsin, on Sunday April 3, 2005 when the author of the
following historical material Dr. Henry Doktorski delivered
the instruments and performed on them in concert.
The two instruments were donated to A World of Accordions
Museum by Guido's son, Count Guido Roberto Deiro (in
collaboration with Dr. Allan A. Atlas, curator of the Deiro
Archive at the Center for the Study of Free-Reed Instruments
at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York),
and Pietro's granddaughter, Sandra Deiro Cattani.
The accordions which the two Deiro brothers played were built
by the Guerrini Company in San Francisco operated by Pasquale
Petromilli, Antonio Petromilli, Finan Piatanese and Colombo
Piatanesi. These instruments were quite different from the
modern accordions we are used to hearing and playing today.
They had no tone chambers, so their sound was brighter.
Like modern accordions, they had four sets of reeds for the
right hand, but they were organized differently from today’s
instruments which contain one set of low reeds (bassoon) which
sounds one octave lower than written, two sets of middle reeds
(violin) which sound as written, and one set of high reeds
(piccolo) which sounds one octave higher than written. Guido
and Pietro’s instruments had one set of low reeds and three
sets of middle reeds, which were all dry-tuned, unlike the
wet-tuned French musette accordion. There were no piccolo
reeds in these early instruments. The reeds were made from
Guido’s instrument (stamped on the reed blocks with the date
“June 3, 1926” and the names “P. Petromilli & C.
Piatanesi”) had a right-hand keyboard of 41 notes, beginning
from A below middle C to B three octaves higher. Pietro’s
instrument (stamped on the reed blocks with the date “June
6, 1917” and also with the names “P. Petromilli & C.
Piatanesi”) had a right-hand keyboard of 39 notes, beginning
from G below middle C to A three octaves higher. The black
keys were narrower than the black keys on modern instruments.
Pietro’s instrument had 120 bass and chord buttons like the
modern accordion, but Guido’s instrument had 140 buttons
which included an extra row of augmented chord buttons. There
were three reed blocks for the left-hand, encompassing sixty
pitches (a range of five octaves). The lowest pitch on
Guido’s bass buttonboard was a C two octaves below middle C.
Pietro’s instrument descended three pitches lower: to an A.
Both instruments had a register shift operated by the thumb
along the back of the right-hand keyboard. It had two
settings: (1) the master stop in which all four sets of reeds
sounded, and (2) the violin stop, which pushed an aluminum
plate across the air holes and blocked the bassoon reeds,
thereby permitting only the three sets of middle reeds to
Contemporary reviewers were amazed by the sound of Guido’s
instrument, “Deiro gives to the accordion the sonorousness
of the organ and at the same time the exquisiteness and
subtleness of the violin.” (Undated newspaper clipping, ca.
1910-1912, from the Guido Deiro Scrapbook, Book 1)
Guido’s accordion had a mute for the left-hand manual, a
two-position switch operated by the left-hand thumb on the
back panel of the instrument which opened or closed a series
of round portholes on the back panel. Pietro’s instrument
had a brass air-bar instead of an air button, which allowed
him to blow out or suck in extra air through the bellows if
needed no matter where his hand lay up or down the
button-board. Guido’s instrument had two air buttons,
located at each end of the bass panel.
was the last instrument owned by Willard Palmer, and made
especially to his specifications. Produced under the brand
name Palmer espoused, the unique accordion was manufactured by
the Pigini company and refined in Titano’s New York
workshops. It features an extended treble keyboard with four
conventional sets of reeds and a fifth bank that applies
optional quint reeds to every shift. The bass section has 160
buttons in eight rows and a double converter between Stradella
and Free-Bass that descends to C2.
The “pedal” basses are equipped with a sustaining action
controlled by shift. The instrument has internal pick-ups for
amplification and is equipped with MIDI electronics. Its size
is deep and large, resulting is a weight of 36 lbs.
This instrument is unique among the 1,300 accordions in A
World of Accordions Museum. Indeed, it is the only one of its
kind ever made. We consider it the finest instrument in the
museum. Playing it is uniquely inspiring and affords the
performer resources and subtleties that enhance
interpretations and musical imagination.
DiMaccio (1941-1993) was born in 1941 in Algiers to an Italian
father and Spanish mother and he was already playing the
accordion by age of three years old. He demonstrated an
outstanding predisposition for music from his early years and
at the age of six he could already sight ready and complete
scores on his accordion.
Christian competed in the CIA Coupe Mondiale in 1955 in
Brighton - UK, 1957 in Saarbrucken - Germany where he placed
3rd and also in 1959 in New York where he also placed 3rd. He
led a very successful musical life which included a
performance for Igor Stravinsky who afterwards declared that
"The accordion has found its genius at last!"
Christian was considered by many to be "the accordionist
of the century!"
After emigrating to the USA in the late 60's, he soon
attracted many successful composers into what would become
lasting working partnerships. First with John Williams with
whom he worked on the score to the film Home Alone and then
Michel Legrand for the compositions of the Barbara Streisand
Christian appeared throughout the USA and during a tour of
Canada Tommy Dorsey proposed that he should do the first part
of the Frank Sinatra show at New York's Carnegie Hall.
After spending time in Canada, Christian returned to Los
Angeles where he gave many concerts and was involved in
recording a number of film scores including Star Wars.
Considered by the finest musicians on both sides of the
Atlantic as the best technician of the accordion ever,
Christian DiMaccio deployed his great sensitivity and his
immense talent in the service of all forms of music.