Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Archive for bandoneon

Dr. Bob Prescribes The Tango Project

Yesterday’s Music History Monday post focused on the accordion, an important patent for which was granted to the Philadelphia-based inventor Anthony Foss on January 13, 1854: 166 years ago yesterday. As detailed in yesterday’s Music History Monday, for reasons having to do with class politics and pure snobbery, the accordion is often looked down upon – even derided – as a third-class instrument in the United States, something the high snark-content of my post did little to obviate. Part of the problem, as I explained, is that the accordion never inspired a critical mass of composers to create for it a repertoire of its own. And while this is true in the world of concert music, it doesn’t tell the whole story.  That whole story is this: there are certain genres of music that are entirely dependent upon the sound of the accordion (or one of its close relatives, like the concertina and bandoneón), to create their characteristic sonic ambience. For example, the polka: a moderately up-tempo dance in 2/4 time that originated in Czech lands in the early nineteenth century. By the mid-nineteenth century, what was called “polkamania” had spread across Europe, though it was most powerfully felt in […]

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