The Accordion vs. The Beatles Accordionist Tom Torriglia of San Francisco has declared June to be "International Accordion Awareness Month." He joins New Hampshire accordionist Gary Sredzienski in trying to explain why they love the accordion. And they say the instrument was popular — until the Beatles came along and made the guitar supreme.
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The Accordion vs. The Beatles

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The Accordion vs. The Beatles

The Accordion vs. The Beatles

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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If you're in the mood to celebrate today, here are two suggestions: it is National Headache Awareness week. You can go to the website of the National Headache Foundation, and you'll find 12 tips for a headache-free year.

Or, if you prefer there is another observance that you could squeeze into your schedule.

(Soundbite of accordion playing)

SIEGEL: Yes, today is not only day two of National Headache Awareness Week, it's also day five of International Accordion Awareness Month.

(Soundbite of accordion playing)

SIEGEL: We believe that somewhere, there are those who can find a way to mark both occasions simultaneously, but at their own risk.

(Soundbite of accordion playing)

SIEGEL: Now how, you might ask, does one mark International Accordion Awareness Month? Well, we think nothing could do the job better than to introduce - by telephone - two accordion players who've never met before, and then let them have at it.

Mr. TOM TORRIGLIA (Declared June International Accordion Awareness Month): The piano accordion was actually invented in San Francisco back in 1907.

Mr. GARY SREDZIENSKI (Bellows Music, New Hampshire): I read somewhere, though, that the piano accordion was invented by a Busson in France in the 1850's.

Mr. TORRIGLIA: It very could have been. Maybe the piano accordion was perfected here.

Mr. SREDZIENSKI: They say then Paulo Soprani in Italy, they said, was the one who developed the 120 base. I know you guys are the capital for the U.S. for the piano accordion, but…

Mr. TORRIGLIA: Yeah. Yeah, we are.

SIEGEL: That's Tom Torriglia of All Things Accordion standing up for the accordion playing community of San Francisco. And the other gentleman is Gary Sredzienski of Bellows Music in New Hampshire.

It was Mr. Torriglia who proclaimed June International Accordion Awareness Month. No legal action was involved. He didn't have to register it, no laws passed, no edicts issued, just a love of the instrument. Now, we may not all share in that love, but they do have the right to be heard in the defense of the handheld, bellows-driven, free-reed aerophones.

Mr. TORRIGLIA: When I go to play and I walk in with the accordion, 95 percent of the time people are just really excited.

Mr. SREDZIENSKI: In this country, there were a lot more accordion players.

Mr. TORRIGLIA: In our job, we get to make people happy.

Mr. SREDZIENSKI: My goal for the instrument is to have the instrument for everyone to use.

Mr. TORRIGLIA: Back in the late 80's, I was playing in a 15 piece accordion band. And people would sometimes - when I would tell people that, they would kind of make fun and go, the accordion? The accordion is kind of a corny instrument.

Mr. SREDZIENSKI: It's the most misunderstood instrument in the world today.

Mr. TORRIGLIA: And I would say, no it's not, it's very expressive, it's very passionate.

Mr. SREDZIENSKI: The accordion was such a very popular instrument in the United States in the 30's and 40's.

Mr. TORRIGLIA: You can play all kinds of different music.

Mr. SREDZIENSKI: And it was so much a part of American culture.

Mr. TORRIGLIA: I utterly encourage everybody to pick up the accordion and learn to play, and - just like Gary and myself - hopefully become professional accordionists, which is probably the - I cant think of a better job.

Mr. SREDZIENSKI: Tom, I agree with you 100 percent. Our job is about brining joy to people.

SIEGEL: Tom Torriglia and Gary Sredzienski marking National Accordion Awareness Month. There are only 25 more days to become aware. And completely coincidentally, there are five more days to observe National Headache Awareness Week.

(Soundbite of accordion playing)

SIEGEL: This is NPR, National Public Radio.

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