Walter Losi, accordionist and composer, joined his first band, “The Rengers”, at the age of fifteen, with which he performs throughout the province of Piacenza. At twelve, he began studying with Maestro Elio Piazza, then goes on giving lectures with private teachers, as he made his way into the concert career.
In 1978 he met Franco Bagutti and, in this same period, beginning his recording experiences. The first incision is “Luna d’estate”, which is also the fourth disc of Franco Bagutti.
In 1996 he joined “L’Orchestra del Cuore”, composed of professionals from other orchestras, which is still a member, although in 2003 the orchestra takes the name of its leader Gigi Chiappin.
He received the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004 in Bedonia and in 2006 in Castelfidardo, on the occasion of the exhibition “Music without words” during the 31st International Prize and Competition “Città di Castelfidardo”.
The music in the blood, the accordion in fate… An instrument that has marked your life by giving you countless professional satisfaction. What is really the accordion for you, simply a “device” to work or something more?
The accordion is my life, I could not help it… I would not be trivial nor obvious, I have a debt with the music, the music has given me so much, I do a job that gratifies me very much, that requires great sacrifice, but that for me they are not, in fact, the accordion is my traveling companion, a story that we are writing together for many years and that every day is enhanced by many little details.
Walter Losi is probably the highest expression, musically speaking, between accordionists who engage in dance music. What was your educational training? How do you get to develop a technique like yours?
I approached the accordion with a private teacher, a good guide for me, but still a figure linked to those times, where there wasn’t a well defined trail and studied almost exclusively the songs that were performed on stage. I did not graduate because, as you know, thirty years ago, the accordion did not have a chair in the conservatory and in the mentality of the people was “only” a popular instrument. I spent a lot of time practicing with the most famous songs of the repertoire of dance music, maybe always trying to give a “touch” of all staff and embellish them at my leisure. My world has always been there, except that my teacher made me also consider the classics (“The Thieving Magpie”, “Perpetual Motion,” “Flight of the Bumblebee”, “Dizzy Fingers” and many others…) that helped to form me technically. I’ve never been able to play eight hours a day because, at 18, I started traveling around Italy with the Orchestra Bagutti who was regularly 20-22 nights per month in the winter and 30 in summer. So it has been for twenty years, but my passion was such that in the little spare time I was there, however, with the instrument in my hand… I was put forward very soon, precisely in 1984, a record deal I’d rather advantageous that took me until now to realize more than 30 CD; in this work there were always famous songs that I had to somehow customize and this of course took a long time and a lot of exercise…
The dance music, in fact, a reality scarcely considered among the musicians of “classical style”, but that can forge talents of all respect. What do you think obout the environment in which you work, what are the artists who inspired you the most and which ones are on the launching pad?
As a child I was a fan of Learco Gianferrari, he was my idol, I had all his records and I still respect him. I tried to imitate his style and, listening to other good accordionists, I also tried to shape my own personal way of playing.
My consideration of the environment in which I work is very relative… Given that I move very rarely listen to other orchestras and usually I do not do early in useless and sterile polemics especially against colleagues, I know that musicians tend to use a lot playback. Once, at least, there was the “decency” to record tracks personally, today, however, are part of the program songs played directly from the others, and very often also mine. At the point where we are, it would take half a revolution, and it would be the case that the people, the audience that habitually frequents the dancehall, began first of all to understand who really deserves to be applauded and then expect something more, taking really aware of what is going on. At present I do not see much future for musicians who study and play live, there is no meritocracy, we are definitely losing a “war”!
The new advances? I do not know… While working for many years in this environment, as I have already said, I often alien to everything that surrounds me, I do not know… Just a few days ago Simone Mannarino asked me some advice; he is a good boy, young and determined, I heard him play and I must say he is really very prepared, I expect we’ll be hearing about him in the future!
Listening to your recordings emerge not only a good technique and an enviable control of the hands, but also a particularly fine taste in the choice of harmonic solutions and arrangements of the songs. Your contribution to the recording studio only limited to the execution of the part or you are directly involved in the harmonization of the pieces?
I have some colleagues with whom I work now for many years and they are the ones that deal with the arrangements and orchestrations. Sometimes it happens that we face on the various aspects of the work, but in any case, I devote myself mainly to the solo track and embellishments with the accordion.
The name Walter Losi has always been linked to the “other manufacturing hub”, the Stradella, so to speak … What do you want from your accordion, what are the characteristics that distinguish your instrument?
One of the most beautiful gifts that made me my father was a F.lli Crosio, my first accordion “professional” and from that moment the party is a bit ‘more … I remember with pleasure every time I went to the company to fix something , was the director himself, Helvetius Stocco, earnestly trying to meet my needs. It was truly a special person and I was very attached to him and his instruments, so much so that when he left to found the Crosio Stocco, I sold my two accordions to buy new ones. 30 years have passed since then and I still use every night! Also because I find the same care and passion within the team that brought together the work of Elvezio and Nicoletta Stocco.
The owners of the company Stocco told me about a model in its output devoted to Walter Losi. What can you tell us about that?
I can only be honored as much consideration .. This model is inspired by an instrument of the past made in Stradella in which the case, size and shape, the choice of wood, the type of paint, nailing the voices of cork pull accorded in particular in respect of the best Stradellina art of building, appears to be a bit different from current standards and that, according to many, seems to develop a particular timbre. I was dedicated by emotional bond that I have with the whole company, that I represent over 30 years up and down Italy. The same Elvezio told me over and over that, thanks to me, they sold a lot of accordions… I do not know if it was really so, certainly the Stocco has always stood for quality and professionalism. When I go to the company I am pleased to see how much passion they can create rich instrument refined with manual technique: Fabio (carpenter), Cristian (keyboards and mechanical), Anisa (preparation and nailing entries), Giulia (intonation and leather cover) Simone which can give the instrument a rich and present timbre, Claudia, Michele and Paolo, who with dedication and professionalism are at the disposal of accordionists.
Elvezio often told me that my colleagues came to him to ask him an instrument identical to mine. In fact I’ve never had a custom accordion. Mine, which I consider to be an instrument of exquisite workmanship, it is still a standard for Stocco and then, as I always say, the sound does the musician with the touch, with the movement and use of the bellows, and especially with the heart! I’ll tell you a story… I’ve always had two Stocco accordions, and very often it happened that some of my colleagues asked me to sell them one, convinced that my was custom. One day, after much insistence, I gave in to the demands of a musician. At that point I went back to buy another and saw a white accordion. I remember that I asked Elvezio who was the owner of that instrument, and he said to me: “Look, it’s a guy who has not wanted because he says it is not like yours…”. I tried it for a moment and replied: “ok , I’ll take it!”, I can assure you that it sounded fine…
Going back to your world, the infamous stage, so to speak… The public expects from you always a little more and this is probably the price to pay for being “the most good”! How is your relationship with people, with your supporters?
I state that I have never considered the best, I have always been a humble and soft-spoken man. I do not having to prove anything to anyone, but only to give the best of what I can and what is in my ability. I have a wonderful relationship with my colleagues and the public, I always keep my feet on the ground because, if I did something good, I did it in 40 years of great sacrifice. Then, I’m a guy who knows how to listen, knows questioning and that takes a lot into consideration the opinion of colleagues and supporters.
The dance music, a growing phenomenon that involves more and more the new generations. This unstoppable boom has been driven largely by the high visibility of some broadcasters sector that record every day. How much do you weigh the popularity? Are you afraid of having to always prove something?
Yes, indeed there are those programs that make millions of daily listeners and who have spread the image of artists and orchestras throughout the peninsula, and from what I understand, even beyond national borders. As I already said I do not weigh the popularity because I never considered a celebrity… Sometimes it happens that stop me on the street, but rarely make the appreciation for what they have heard. Do not scare me always having to prove something, just because our audienceis traditional and gets excited for a “classic” interpreted by this or that, and that is sometimes snub with many technical virtuosity. This is not to say that we are in the presence of incompetent, God forbid, but maybe, thanks to the various broadcasters, we don’t exalt the individual musician, but the image of the group in its entirety.
What professional experience do you have most gratified?
Every evening, every place has a charm all its own, at least for people like me who thrives on music. I will divide my experiences in two phases determinants for my artistic career. The past 20 years with Franco Bagutti, with whom I have built my image of the musician. And the period, which is still in progress, with Gigi Chiappin and the “Orchestra del Cuore”, where I have learned to be more independent, where I stopped live in reflected light and I’m carrying on, step by step, my character and my future music.
Have you ever thought about who would have been Walter Losi without an accordion on his shoulders?
Good question… I have to say that I had a nice right and a not bad technique! Maybe I could be a footballer, but it is not easy to succeed in that field. However, it was different and I am very happy with who I’ve become and what I’ve done in life.
The most classic of questions… And the future?
I state that I am considering with my editor Ivan Marchini (Edizioni Musicali Bagutti) the release of a box set with 4 CDs which I will insert a series of instrumental songs interpreted in a virtuosic particular key. The future? I would like to be optimistic, but I do not know if we’re nibbling at the cheese rind or if we finished that well! I refer to one of the initial questions… I deeply love the accordion and this work has led me to live thanks to music, but I will be even happier the day they will excel the emotions given by beautiful performances (live) in spite of those ephemeral, linked exclusively to the image of the “characters” and the choreography more or less attractive of the band.
What record labels have promoted your CD?
I’ve made my first CD with the PLF of Pierluigi Falabrino. For the last ten years, however, from the CD “Oro e Argento”, I collaborate actively with Edizioni Musicali Bagutti and The Piacentina, a leader in the field of dance music, which produce in co-edition all my productions.
A special greeting to your fellow accordionists and for the readers of Strumetni&Musica…
I remember this magazine from the early years of study, has always been a reference point for us accordionists and honors me to be interviewed and published in the next issue. Greetings to all accordionists, with a clear message: in a world where the accordion has made great strides, do not recline. And for the younger: try to keep up with the times, never stop studying and get in discussion, just in this way you can realize your dreams!
A hug to all the readers of Strumenti&Musica!
This article is available also in: Italian