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Author Topic: Banning the accordion?  (Read 2475 times)

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Andrew Kennedy

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Banning the accordion?
« on: September 26, 2018, 11:19:51 AM »

I'm fond of the German accordionist Stefan Hiss, and found this interview https://www.stuttgarter-nachrichten.de/inhalt.hiss-im-interview-es-ist-absurd-sich-abschotten-zu-wollen.c0f76c7c-461c-4e14-9e98-e4537daab56b.html  In it he says that the Nazi Reichsmusikkammer planned to ban the accordion as being not sufficiently Aryan, but changed their mind when WW2 started because it was so popular with troops at the Front.

I've never come across this before; can anyone confirm, refute, or otherwise add to this claim?
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deltasalmon

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Re: Banning the accordion?
« Reply #1 on: September 26, 2018, 11:24:10 AM »

If true, I wonder what instruments were "Aryan" enough.
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Mike Hirst

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Re: Banning the accordion?
« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2018, 12:24:48 PM »

These collected images may be of interest:

http://mikehirst.netfirms.com/knopfakkordeon/
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triskel

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Re: Banning the accordion?
« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2018, 01:06:19 PM »

... he says that the Nazi Reichsmusikkammer planned to ban the accordion as being not sufficiently Aryan, but changed their mind when WW2 started because it was so popular with troops at the Front.

Yes, I've heard something like that said of the accordion before, also of jazz ("degenerate negroid music") under the Nazis, but the Wagner-worshipping leadership perhaps thought better than to try and impose their musical values too stringently at the time.

In Paris the musicians simply changed the titles of jazz numbers, so that (for example) St. Louis Blues became La Tristesse de St. Louis...
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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Banning the accordion?
« Reply #4 on: September 26, 2018, 01:08:26 PM »

Thanks Mike, some fascinating images there.
I'm not a Hohner expert but can still recognise a few different ones...…
cheers
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Roger Hare

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Re: Banning the accordion?
« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2018, 01:40:17 PM »

These collected images may be of interest:
http://mikehirst.netfirms.com/knopfakkordeon/
Wow! Those are fascinating images! Thank you for posting them. Aren't most of the instruments melodeons
though, rather than piano accordions? Or did the Germans not distinguish between the two?

I'm no expert, but I'm now wondering about the supposed popularity of the Liliput and other small 'Sports'
models with the Hitler Youth (I read this somewhere...). Was an accordion less Aryan than the melodeon?
Why? What was the attitude of the regime towards other free-reed instruments?
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Winston Smith

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Re: Banning the accordion?
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2018, 01:50:26 PM »

Surely we all saw that in the little video posted by squeezy a year or two go? (I had it in my favourites list, but it seems to have disappeared, sorry.)
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ursamyna

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Re: Banning the accordion?
« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2018, 02:01:57 PM »

some of those outfits look very odd, but sort of familiar.   Is there a German equivalent of the traditional English Mummers/plough plays?  Especially the picture with the caption "der englander ist todt"  with the St George'e cross on the chest of the man lying down.
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Andrew Kennedy

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Re: Banning the accordion?
« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2018, 02:12:22 PM »

I once bought a melodeon (Hohner 256) from a German pub landlord in Speyer and he referred to it as a diatonisches Akkordeon.  He had another melodeon on a shelf, a small 2-row labelled Metropol, which he said was unplayable and just there for decoration.  I've never heard of Metropol and haven't found anything on the internet.

The Hiss interview dwells on the fact that he plays piano accordion and asks whether it needed some element of rehabilitation in Germany, and he disputes this.  He also says, though, that good accordion music is found all over the world and he believes in drawing on these influences, not being parochially German as we've seen where that went before.

It strikes me that with the Steirische being so deeply embedded in folk culture of Bavaria and Austria, where Hitler's affections lay, the kind of accordion which some call a melodeon would seem less alien to a Nazi than the cosmopolitan piano variety.  But I'm open to challenge on this point.
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Broadland Boy

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Re: Banning the accordion?
« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2018, 02:31:10 PM »

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FSeSLi4RQ6s Is probably what you are looking for Winston.

IIRC from one of the Honer books it indicated that there was music which the Nazi'z banned from being played on the melodeon (and presumably gob iron and other folk instruments?) as being inferior or not able to give a sufficiently 'noble' rendering, pretty sure Wagner was included but my book is on loan so cannot verify. It also related that a percentage of whatever their allocation of war work output was to be reserved for continued instrument production as essential to keeping up morale.

It is unfortunate that Hohner do not seem to have worked directly with Stuka, otherwise the HA114 in G might have ended up fitted with the notorious Trumpet of Jericho sirens - that would have ultimately seen off the competition of the various  *oska ending boxes with their bells and whistles as the 'accordion' most deserving of being banned from public performance.

Brace yourself for the incoming request for quote from the South West Roger................
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James Fitton

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Re: Banning the accordion?
« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2018, 03:43:50 PM »

some of those outfits look very odd, but sort of familiar.   Is there a German equivalent of the traditional English Mummers/plough plays?  Especially the picture with the caption "der englander ist todt"  with the St George'e cross on the chest of the man lying down.
The German phrase appears to be "der Englaender ist tot geaerget" which means something like The Englishman is dead - annoyed. Seems quite odd German to me (not a native speaker, but I lived there for a long time) I guess the Englishman may indeed be a bit annoyed in this situation.....
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triskel

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Re: Banning the accordion?
« Reply #11 on: September 26, 2018, 08:45:38 PM »

Aren't most of the instruments melodeons
though, rather than piano accordions? Or did the Germans not distinguish between the two?

More to the point, Cyrill Demian who invented the thing in 1829 (forget the claims made for Buschmann in a 1934 book, which are dismissed as "Nazi propoganda" by German researchers) named his diatonic instrument "Accordion" - and even engraved the word into the mother-of-pearl plaque that's in the keyboard edge of some of his early models, like this one from around 1830 that I got recently:


Piano accordions were a much later development, and didn't start to become really popular until a century later.

I'm no expert, but I'm now wondering about the supposed popularity of the Liliput and other small 'Sports'
models with the Hitler Youth (I read this somewhere...).

As I've said before, the Nazis encouraged sporting pursuits and "activity holidays" that promoted physical fitness, and that's what such "knapsack accordions" were designed for. Here's a rare photo that I came across recently of BDM (Bund Deutscher Mädel - League of German Girls, or Band of German Maidens) girls with their Hohner Liliput:

« Last Edit: September 27, 2018, 08:09:53 AM by triskel »
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Fred

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Re: Banning the accordion?
« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2018, 11:56:22 AM »

Very interesting thread! Thanks for the links.

As Banning is my last name, I'm tempted to start an accordion workshop and build my own melodeons.

"Banning, the accordion"  ;D
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ocajun

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Re: Banning the accordion?
« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2018, 03:43:23 PM »

some of those outfits look very odd, but sort of familiar.   Is there a German equivalent of the traditional English Mummers/plough plays?  Especially the picture with the caption "der englander ist todt"  with the St George'e cross on the chest of the man lying down.
The German phrase appears to be "der Englaender ist tot geaerget" which means something like The Englishman is dead - annoyed. Seems quite odd German to me (not a native speaker, but I lived there for a long time) I guess the Englishman may indeed be a bit annoyed in this situation.....

The construction reminded me of a similar one I am familiar with and suggested "annoyed to death" as a translation. Grammatically past perfect, as in he died, the cause of death being annoyance/irritation/exasperation or similar. As usual, when you go looking you find other possibilities - provoked to death, worried to death etc. We need someone with native linguistic and cultural context to confirm this  :-\

As for the lack of piano accordions, the collection is of "knopfakkordeon" so I wouldn't expect to see many  ;)

My late father-in-law was banned from having a trumpet at the time. Probably to keep him out of trouble as he would have played unacceptable African-American Jazz on it.
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Roger Hare

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Re: Banning the accordion?
« Reply #14 on: September 28, 2018, 06:35:30 AM »

As for the lack of piano accordions, the collection is of "knopfakkordeon" so I wouldn't expect to see many  ;)

OK, 'knopf' is 'button' - should have thought of that!!!
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triskel

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Re: Banning the accordion?
« Reply #15 on: September 28, 2018, 07:12:36 PM »

As for the lack of piano accordions, the collection is of "knopfakkordeon" so I wouldn't expect to see many  ;)

OK, 'knopf' is 'button' - should have thought of that!!!

Actually, in my experience of dealing with German factories, that usage is incorrect.

Knopfakkordeon is what they call a CBA, whilst the instruments we play are called Harmonikas or diatonischen Akkordeons...
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Winston Smith

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Re: Banning the accordion?
« Reply #16 on: September 28, 2018, 07:46:05 PM »

Bearing in mind the HH featuring in the Hohner list, I would have thought that it might be Hand Harmonika?
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triskel

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Re: Banning the accordion?
« Reply #17 on: September 29, 2018, 03:00:34 AM »

Bearing in mind the HH featuring in the Hohner list, I would have thought that it might be Hand Harmonika?

It can also be called "Handharmonika", but simply "Harmonika" would be common usage in many European languages.
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Winston Smith

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Re: Banning the accordion?
« Reply #18 on: September 29, 2018, 06:02:25 AM »

Thank you, it's always good to know when you're hunting around junk shops etc.
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triskel

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Re: Banning the accordion?
« Reply #19 on: September 29, 2018, 06:57:24 AM »

Thank you, it's always good to know when you're hunting around junk shops etc.

In that sort of case such subtleties might become meaningless, and the local equivalent of "squeezebox" might be more appropriate...
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