I would like to thank you for the opportunity to tell me to talk about the issues related to the world of the accordion, this wonderful instrument that still fascinates many people in many different places and is deeply rooted in folk traditions.
You have dedicated most of your life to the accordion. Where does this passion come from?
It comes from far away, in the sense of a strong family connection passed through many generations. My grandfather Nazzareno was hand-crafted in Castelfidardo of reeds since the early of ‘900. Many of its products were shipped to US to meet the needs of our fellow countrymen who moved in that great country, where just at that time had been launched numerous craft activities for the construction of the accordions.
From my father’s family, originally from Osimo, the sister of my grandfather had married Luigi Antonelli, founder of the homonymous reeds factory. In addition to this, in those fabulous years, there were many factories built reeds to meet countless accordion manufacturing factories located in our area. In this situation it was natural to get in some way in these production areas, as all my father’s family, with a workshop which provided assembled reeds at larger factories. I was born and lived between the notes expressed by the harmonic reeds in construction has established a very strong link with this instrument, moreover played discreetly by my father and my paternal uncle.
What is the strength of your work?
First of all, referring to the past, I have had a chance to use me, after technical studies, in a big company: Excelsior. The production cycle, excluding the production of the reeds, fully invested throughout the construction of the parts of the instrument, the main structures (casse – soniere – bellows) to the various mechanisms (keyboards, mechanical) to the most small details. The years spent in this company have given me the chance to form both technically and productively.
After this important training, about 30 years ago (in 1986) I had the opportunity to gather the building tradition of Excelsior with goodwill of a new enterprise (Cemex) experience continued for about 20 years, with the support of some partners. All this has given me the opportunity to see the accordion world from other angles, previously restricted to the productive sector.
Even the 4th generation is doing its part. The husband of the eldest daughter, Chiara, has taken many years the building tradition of the harmonic reeds, with important innovations under the qualitative point of view.
Recently, in the family business there was the novelty of the strong participation of the younger daughter, Martina, who graduated in “International Relations” which resulted in new business opportunities arising from the knowledge of different foreign languages, from modern management processes and even more. In modern times, this is extremely important especially in relation to strong foreign markets.
All of these various components, allow us to treat indifferently the construction of tailored instrument of the customers, the repair and restoration of the instruments, in addition to providing a comprehensive assistance to many workshops with the supply of specific parts of the product, useful for both build than repair.
How can you define the current situation of the Accordion in Castelfidardo?
In my personal opinion, it is in a strong transition tending downward. Many of the traditional companies, especially manufacturers of standard accordions, suffer a substantial reduction of sales as a result leading to the reduction of quantities for individual orders. This aspect has a significant and negative effect on manufacturing costs. The practical consequences are the high sales prices that clash with the strong economic and financial crisis of recent time. In the last year, for example, some companies in Castelfidardo have suspended or halted its production activities.
Some companies craft oriented on traditional product (diatonic instruments) better able to manage the current difficulties, but are springing several small foreign companies that are putting themselves in competition with local producers, especially in the range of instruments with a low-tech. This aspect is still a consequence of the sales prices at current enough that promote sustained competition from foreign producers.
I would draw a negative picture in the future, but in the absence of strong initiatives, especially by institution, I cannot get a glimpse of how we can reverse this trend.
What are the manufacturing issues connected to this instrument?
I state that at the present time are not informed about particular initiatives started by individual producers and organizations that deal with issues related to the instrument.
For my point of view, with respect to issues past, little or nothing has been done. Some themes in past meetings and conferences, such as the possibility of joint productions designed to reduce costs, the standardization of the various models, the formation of new operators or any training courses for installers and repairers-more, were abandoned culpably both by individual companies from various local institutions.
Continuing to do nothing means certain death of our traditional industry. Not enough unfortunately obvious examples as the reality of Stradella, where from 30-40 years has disappeared the building tradition. Ultimately, this situation is really frustrating as attend live a death without doing anything at all to change the course of events. I would like to emphasize again the problem related to a lack of standardization of the instrument obviously ignoring the diversity of traditional-folk instruments, linked to the various musical traditions.
Pianos, wind and string instruments have well-defined characteristics and homogeneous, but this aspect has not prevented the development of many manufacturers competing each other. If I think of the different characteristics of the various productions of standard accordions, past and present, and looking for suitable replacement parts, I become crazy!
Among various activities, there is also the one about training for repairers. What is it specifically?
As part of our work, we have to handle the daily demand for small replacement parts for accordions and diatonic instruments. Issues simple enough for us insiders, become hard obstacles for musicians and fans, for the lack of knowledge of technology, equipment and materials specific.
The issue could be solved easily with the assistance of some repair on site, competent and honest, but over the years we have seen a significant reduction of these professional roles, especially for a professional non-renewal of the lack of specific training.
Receiving instruments to be repaired from distant countries like Canada, Australia and Korea, while it gratifies our work, on the other hand there is much to reflect on the lack of on-site service. Buying new instruments, although with a warranty (2 years?) by the dealer but with the prospect of not finding spare parts or can do perform basic repairs in the future, I think it’s a fact to ponder.
In this situation, by our company we make a specific assistance, by sending or transmission of valuable information about the various stages of processing, about the use of tools and specific materials.
On the other hand, people passionate about the instrument ask to adequately implement their specific knowledge, but unfortunately we do not have at the present moment of time to devote to this activity. Without wishing to distribute burdens and responsibilities to others, we would see very well the training courses organized by several local producers and by the various institutions.
Honestly, in the past there have been similar initiatives aimed at individual companies that in some cases have already integrated within the company formed by the young company.
How do you see the world of accordion in the future?
As analyzed above, in the absence of some viable initiatives that can revitalize the sector, I can only glimpse a slow death.
The passion for music and the accordion in particular, especially in certain areas such as France, the Slavic countries, etc. unlikely to disappear, but the problems of the sector will contribute to a gradual decrease in sales.
To give just one example, the “disappearance production” of some historical brands in the Balkans, such as Dallapè or Guerrini, make it extremely difficult to provide spare parts.
In addition to this, we witness the birth of new productive initiatives directly on site, at an early stage but with the determination to create new sources for local musicians. Many foreign experts are trying to imitate the current system of production which includes the only final assembly by many companies. Always for intellectual honesty, companies can directly produce can be counted on the fingers of one hand, of which, some of them are specialized for diatonic instruments.
In my opinion, a difficult challenge awaits the various producers remained that the various local institutions. The opening of a new comparison table is extremely necessary and urgent and must cover everyone, but especially the remaining producers for the production of components that are having to handle orders more and more skinny.
Failing that, the problems of the industry will remain so. It would be the last straw that our own mayor, who has glorious and historical name, contributes to declare the demise of an industry that has given so much to Castelfidardo in terms of welfare and progress!
This article is available also in: Italian