Celebrated Polkas by Pietro Deiro
February 2006: Henry has recorded twenty-one polkas by Pietro Diero, the first CD in a proposed 12-CD anthology: The Complete Works of Pietro Deiro. Pietro Deiro (1888-1954) is considered one of the greatest and most influential accordionists of the first half of the twentieth century. Born in Salto, Italy, he immigrated to the United States in 1907, and in 1908 began to play the diatonic button-accordion professionally at a saloon in Seattle, Washington.
That same year Pietro’s older brother Guido (already an accomplished piano-accordionist in Europe) also immigrated to the United States, and there in Seattle he taught Pietro how to play the piano-accordion. Guido was a sensation and became a vaudeville star in 1910. Pietro, recognizing a good thing, followed in his brother’s footsteps, and also became a celebrity on the vaudeville circuit at least by 1912. He earned up to $500 per week: a phenomenal income in those days.
One contemporary 1921 newspaper reviewer praised Pietro’s musicianship: “What Paderewski is to the piano, Spalding to the violin, and Hans Kronol to the cello, Pietro is to the piano-accordeon. This man takes this instrument, which recently has attained a dignified standing among musicians, and gives it a human voice, a voice that is alive with joy, and dragged down to the depths of sorrow.”
Pietro recorded 78 RPM records for Victor and Decca: a total of 147 sides during his career, beginning in 1912. Amazingly, Pietro enjoyed a flourishing recording career even during the Great Depression—a remarkable achievement, considering the doldrums the record industry was in at the time. Pietro dominated the solo accordion category in Victor’s 1930 Italian catalog with a full eighteen sides (Pietro Frosini could only muster ten).
When the vaudeville industry began to decline, Pietro—a shrewd businessman—established a music studio in 1928 in Greenwich Village, New York, which attracted so many students that he had to hire a staff of professional teachers. Eventually he established a chain of accordion studios on the East coast.
Recognizing early on that his students needed sheet music, Pietro established the music publishing firm Accordion Music Publishing Company (AMPCO), later known simply as Pietro Deiro Publications. Pietro composed over 200 original works for the accordion and arranged countless other pieces.
Pietro was popular and influential. He appeared as a regular columnist for general music publications such as The Etude and Metronome magazines, and he participated prominently in the main accordion journals of the 1930s and 1940s such as Accordion World and Accordion News. He published his own newsletter called The Pietro Musicordion, he produced his own radio show, and he established a record company devoted to the accordion: AMPCO Records.
In 1936 Italian accordion manufacturers presented him with a parchment scroll and gold plaque for his contributions toward the advancement of the instrument. Pietro was one of the founding members of the American Accordionists’ Association (created on March 9, 1938), and was elected the association’s first president by the board.
One modern scholar, Peter Muir, explained: “He [Pietro] effectively became the premiere accordionist in America, a sort of legendary father-figure whose status was embodied by his nickname ‘The Daddy of the Accordion,’ which he carefully cultivated from early in the decade [beginning in 1930].”
The first volume of The Complete Works of Pietro Deiro features his polkas. Subsequent volumes will feature Pietro’s waltzes, marches, foxtrots, mazurkas, paso dobles, rumbas, spanish dances, boleros, characteristic dances, 28 preludes, six grand etudes de concert, six overtures and three concerti.
1 Forbidden (Proibita) Polka
2 Pyramid Polka
3 Paradise Polka
4 Celestina Polka
5 Holiday (Festival) Polka
6 Mother’s Clock Polka
7 Teresina Polka
8 Twinkle Toe Polka
9 Caresse Polka
10 Rhapsody Polka
11 Polish Polka
12 Bells of Salto
13 Russian Polka
14 Polka Bohemienne
15 Briosa Polka
16 Jubilee Polka
17 Aida Polka
18 Tilba Polka
19 La Cerilla (Bird)
20 Pasta Fagioli
21 Vivacity Polka
Total Time: 53:43
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