Barimar releases a new CD and Sheet music album

Barimar in his 90s

The incredible energy and creativity of an accordionist in his nineties

An inspiration to accordionists of several generations, Barimar is as hungry to express himself musically as he’s ever been, in fact even more so.  In an interview Romano Viazzani did with him for Strumenti e Musica http://www.strumentiemusica.com/en/highlights/a-long-conversation-between-romano-viazzani-and-mario-barigazzi/ he seemed to still have the urge to do things he never got round to doing.  He has lost none of his powers as a performer too.

Barimar as a child
Barimar as a child

Barimar was born Mario Barigazzi in Noceto in the province of Parma, Italy on the 18th June 1925.  He studied music from a young age and was discovered by Maestro Ferruzzi who introduced him to the record label La Voce Del Padrone (His Master’s Voice) – Columbia Records.His meeting with Tienno Pattacini was fundamental in his development in the world of music and one for which he will always be grateful. He made his first recording aged 15 and then, at 18, he made his debut in Milan as a soloist with Cosimo di Ceglie who leaned towards a programme with jazz tendencies. After completing an accordion course in Parma he perfected his piano playing by himself thanks to natural flair and musical talent. His continued success in various theatres in Italy, from the Regio of Parma to the Lirico of Milan and the Monteverdi of  La Spezia, was a testament to this talent.In 1946 he won the first prize in the Concert artist category of the Concorso Internazionale di Stradella, and later designated the “Virtuoso Internazionale” of the Confédération Internationale Accordéonistes.

 

 

Barimar and his Orchestra
Barimar and his Orchestra in the 1940s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

 

 

He then established himself as a band leader of a 16-piece orchestra and made many recordings for “La voce del padrone”. In addition, all the arrangements and orchestrations were by his own hand. He is a technical master of the accordion. Barimar performs to perfection the Prelude to acts 1 and 3 of La Traviata, the Overture from The Barbiere di Siviglia, The Theiving Magpie, Moto Perpetuo by Paganini and many of Chopin’s waltzes.In the 1970s due to the great demand, he recorded music from the world of popular dance whilst at the same time recording many of his own compositions far from the influence of dance music and which are both rare and elegant.

In the late 80s he often featured playing the accordion live on a RAI2  broadcast called “Mezzogiorno è…” presented by Gianfranco Funari.  In the late 90s he moved away from Milan and back to his roots in the countryside between Parma and Reggio Emilia, where he lives to this day and continues to find inspiration to continue composing.

A new quartet playing his work has also recently established itself with the aim of playing much of this maestro’s music.The new Barimar Quartet are:

Violin: Marina Mammarella

Double Bass: Agide Baldini

Percussion: Flavio Spotti

Accordion: Yuri Vallara

ZZ Music is pleased to be able to offer to it’s subscribers the new CD and Sheet Music by Barimar, or a special package for both at a discounted price.

 

 

Nando Monica – Another accordion great from Parma

The large light-orchestra Bocelli with Nando Monica

My family came to the UK in the 1880s from the newly-formed Italian province of Parma that, only twenty years earlier had been known as the Duchy of Parma.  Unification of Italy in 1861 led to rapid industrial growth in cities but in mountainous rural areas where winters were long and crops were at the mercy of unpredictable mountain weather life was still pretty tough.  The inheritance system also meant that families who were usually large in numbers in order to have plenty of help on the farm would, in time inherit less and less land which was always equally divided between siblings to the point of being to small to be profitable. People started to migrate to towns and cities in the same way as people all over Britain had been doing for best part of a century.  Some even migrated to France, to the UK, primarily to London and South Wales and a few to the United States.

The popularity of the accordion too spread rapidly at this time.  Whilst Paolo Soprani opened his factory in Castelfidardo in 1864 and being situated in central Italy, it was still quite far away from the Parma and Piacenza area in the North, even by train, Much more local was the new Dallapé factory which opened in 1873 in Stradella, near Pavia. Parma too would eventually boast two accordion factories of it’s own: Bocchi and Calvi. Parma was of course the town of Giuseppe Verdi and music played a big part in local life, not only in the theatres and opera houses but in the inns, cafés and on the streets too. Augusto Migliavacca, the blind cellist, he of the famous mazurka commonly referred to by the composer’s surname with the prefix La, or just Celebre Mazurca di Migliavacca, but originally published as Un pensiero d’amore, was thought to have impressed Verdi with his playing. It was here that proto-accordionists would have picked up La Migliavacca, as well as some of Verdi’s music which the cellist in his string trio usually played reductions of.

Musicians too migrated to these new destinations that their countrymen were migrating to. Firstly to Parma and Piacenza, then maybe to Milan and then the ultimate adventure was to take them abroad, accordion in tow.  Amongst those who left for France were Louis Ferrari (who wrote the famous french waltz Domino, sung by Bing Crosby, Doris Day, Tony Martin and Andy Williams no less), his cousin Tony Murena, who wrote many musette tunes including Indifference, and one-time world champion Attilio Maghenzani. Another accordionist from the same area ended up in the USA; John Brugnoli was the accordionist with the Valtaro Musette Ensemble and they made many recordings of traditional mountain songs and other popular and folk tunes with a vocal group of the same name. London saw some notable accordionists from the Parma and Piacenza area too.  The Allodi Family, Frank Cavaciuti (aka by his Latin American pseudonym Francisco Cavez) and many other good accordionists who were perhaps less well-known in accordion circles.

Amongst those who remained in the Emilia-Romagna area though were of course, Gigi Stok, Barimar, Umberto Allodi, Bruno Aragosti, Bruno Clair (who spent some time abroad too), Giancarlo Zucchi, Carlo Venturi, Corrado Medioli, Piero Barbieri, Iller Pattacini, Renato Benelli and many of the younger generation like Mauro Carra and Daniele Donadelli.  Amongst this wonderful array of players, each with their own individual sound was an amazing player called Nando Monica.

Nando Monica

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nando Monica was born in Langhirano near Parma in 1921.  He started learning the accordion very young  and by the time he was aged 9 he would go out to play at dances with his father, and amateur Double Bass player.  Aged 10 he entered the Parma Conservatoire and studied cello and organ. After getting his diploma in solfége under Aldo Lazzari he returned to the accordion and went on to study harmony.Aged only 17 he became part of the large orchestra of Maestro Bocelli playing in very fashionable towns like San Remo, Salsomaggiore Terme and Ospidaletti. During the war he was posted to Yugoslavia and entered the VI Corpo d’Armata where he started a small ensemble playing light music. After the war he returned to Maestro Bocelli.  After a year he moved to Milan playing with many good ensembles and adding jazz improvising to his skills. The same year he opened a shop in Parma too which he ran until 1991.

Orchestra Bocelli - Nando Monica

His recording career started in 1946 with CGD and he worked with many famous singers.  In 1953 he emigrated to Venezuela where he lived for 6 years orchestrating tropical music with Billo Frometa the leader of a large orchestra. After having returned to Italy he also played in a TV broadcast with singer Teddy Reno in Paris after which he dedicated himself to recording in a big way and going on to win international prizes of the Suisse Romande, of the RFT-France and the Gran Premio Internazionale of 1982 and recording with Soedi and with his own recording label. He wrote about 700 pieces of music including Parma Voladora, L’orchestrina del mio paese, (made famous by Cinico Angelini) and many classical transcriptions for accordion. In 1982, with lyrics by Umberto Tamburini, one of his songs won the Festival della canzone Parmigiana.

He left his hand print as many accordionists have, at the accordion museum in the alpine spa town of Recoaro Terme for national meeting of the Veterani della Fisarmonica in 1998.

For more than 30 years Nando Monica collborated with German music publishers Wurburger Musikverlag and Wurzburger Elwephon records whose publications and Cds we are very happy to stock at ZZ Music. We already stock his compositions Voilá Paris and Prestige and his wonderful transcriptions of La Campanella and Carnival of Venice and we are now pleased to present a bumper CD with no less than 28 tracks of Nando Monica and his wionderful playing entitled Pizza e Tarantella after it’s title track.  The album also features the fabulous musette swing waltz Prestige which we stock as sheet music. ZZ Music will be happy to obtain the music of any of the tracks featured on this album if do not currently have them in stock so please email us with your requests if you cannot find it on our site.

A bumper double-length album on one CD of no less than 28 delightful pieces of music ranging from light classics to continental ballroom and latin-american. Nando Monica with his trademark clarity really excels especially in the delightfully played Poet and The Peasant Overture by Franz Von Suppé. Pizza e Tarantella -Tarantella (Nando Monica/Fausto Fulgoni) Naples by day - Samba (Jose Chillo/Luci Durian/Otto Kracht) Sorriso - Waltz (Nando Monica/Luci Durian) Gardez - Tango (Horst Gubbatz) Swing in Blue - Medium Swing (Nando Monica/Luci Durian) Dichter un Bauer (The Poet and the Peasant) - Overture (Von Suppé - arr. Nando Monica/Bruno Mussini) Das Verruckte Akkordeon - Ritmo Allegro (Michele Corino/Nabbini arr. Luci Durian) Variety - Waltz (Luciano Wurzburger) Samba Night -Samba (Erwin Lehn) Tangordeon - Tango (Luciano Wurzburger/Otto Kracht) Mademoiselle Musette - Valse Musette (Otto Kracht) Nando's Mambo - Mambo (Nando Monica/Luci Durian) Bright Eyes - Slow (Nando Monica/ Luci Durian/ arr. Otto Kracht) Prestige - Musette Swing Waltz (Nando Monica) Bienvenido - Paso Doble (Horst Gubatz) Tangordeon - Tango (Luciano Wurzburger/arr. Otto Kracht) Sommertraum (Sogno D'estate) - Waltz (Nando Monica/Luciano Wurzburger) Marasco - Guaracha/Salsa (Nando Monica/ Luci Durian) Samba Power - Samba (Luciano Wurzburger/arr. Otto Kracht) Blaue Allee - Slow (Erwen Lehn) Remember me to Samy - Valse Musette (Luciano Wurzburger/ arr.Otto Kracht) Zingaresca - Ritmo Allegro (J. Roversol/ arr. Luci Durian) Premiere - Valse Musette (Luciano Wurzburger) Tangorsita Tango (Luci Durian/Otto Kracht) Recuerdo - Lambada (Horst Gubatz) Walzer fur Marleen - Waltz (Nando Monica/Luci Durian) Italienische Nacht (Notte Italiana) - Beguine ( G. Robuschi/Nando Monica/Luci Durian) Mega Polka - Polka (Bruno Mussini)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I remember meeting Nando Monica in the 1990s in his shop in Parma with Corrado Medioli.  He was a quiet unassuming man but with a lot of enthusiasm for music despite his advancing years.  I was saddened to hear of his passing in 2004 as he was a link to en era when every dance band had an accordionist and in his case a most excellent one.

Nando Monica – Another accordion great from Parma

The large light-orchestra Bocelli with Nando Monica

My family came to the UK in the 1880s from the newly-formed Italian province of Parma that, only twenty years earlier had been known as the Duchy of Parma.  Unification of Italy in 1861 led to rapid industrial growth in cities but in mountainous rural areas where winters were long and crops were at the mercy of unpredictable mountain weather life was still pretty tough.  The inheritance system also meant that families who were usually large in numbers in order to have plenty of help on the farm would, in time inherit less and less land which was always equally divided between siblings to the point of being to small to be profitable. People started to migrate to towns and cities in the same way as people all over Britain had been doing for best part of a century.  Some even migrated to France, to the UK, primarily to London and South Wales and a few to the United States.

The popularity of the accordion too spread rapidly at this time.  Whilst Paolo Soprani opened his factory in Castelfidardo in 1864 and being situated in central Italy, it was still quite far away from the Parma and Piacenza area in the North, even by train, Much more local was the new Dallapé factory which opened in 1873 in Stradella, near Pavia. Parma too would eventually boast two accordion factories of it’s own: Bocchi and Calvi. Parma was of course the town of Giuseppe Verdi and music played a big part in local life, not only in the theatres and opera houses but in the inns, cafés and on the streets too. Augusto Migliavacca, the blind cellist, he of the famous mazurka commonly referred to by the composer’s surname with the prefix La, or just Celebre Mazurca di Migliavacca, but originally published as Un pensiero d’amore, was thought to have impressed Verdi with his playing. It was here that proto-accordionists would have picked up La Migliavacca, as well as some of Verdi’s music which the cellist in his string trio usually played reductions of.

Musicians too migrated to these new destinations that their countrymen were migrating to. Firstly to Parma and Piacenza, then maybe to Milan and then the ultimate adventure was to take them abroad, accordion in tow.  Amongst those who left for France were Louis Ferrari (who wrote the famous french waltz Domino, sung by Bing Crosby, Doris Day, Tony Martin and Andy Williams no less), his cousin Tony Murena, who wrote many musette tunes including Indifference, and one-time world champion Attilio Maghenzani. Another accordionist from the same area ended up in the USA; John Brugnoli was the accordionist with the Valtaro Musette Ensemble and they made many recordings of traditional mountain songs and other popular and folk tunes with a vocal group of the same name. London saw some notable accordionists from the Parma and Piacenza area too.  The Allodi Family, Frank Cavaciuti (aka by his Latin American pseudonym Francisco Cavez) and many other good accordionists who were perhaps less well-known in accordion circles.

Amongst those who remained in the Emilia-Romagna area though were of course, Gigi Stok, Barimar, Umberto Allodi, Bruno Aragosti, Bruno Clair (who spent some time abroad too), Giancarlo Zucchi, Carlo Venturi, Corrado Medioli, Piero Barbieri, Iller Pattacini, Renato Benelli and many of the younger generation like Mauro Carra and Daniele Donadelli.  Amongst this wonderful array of players, each with their own individual sound was an amazing player called Nando Monica.

Nando Monica

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nando Monica was born in Langhirano near Parma in 1921.  He started learning the accordion very young  and by the time he was aged 9 he would go out to play at dances with his father, and amateur Double Bass player.  Aged 10 he entered the Parma Conservatoire and studied cello and organ. After getting his diploma in solfége under Aldo Lazzari he returned to the accordion and went on to study harmony.Aged only 17 he became part of the large orchestra of Maestro Bocelli playing in very fashionable towns like San Remo, Salsomaggiore Terme and Ospidaletti. During the war he was posted to Yugoslavia and entered the VI Corpo d’Armata where he started a small ensemble playing light music. After the war he returned to Maestro Bocelli.  After a year he moved to Milan playing with many good ensembles and adding jazz improvising to his skills. The same year he opened a shop in Parma too which he ran until 1991.

Orchestra Bocelli - Nando Monica

His recording career started in 1946 with CGD and he worked with many famous singers.  In 1953 he emigrated to Venezuela where he lived for 6 years orchestrating tropical music with Billo Frometa the leader of a large orchestra. After having returned to Italy he also played in a TV broadcast with singer Teddy Reno in Paris after which he dedicated himself to recording in a big way and going on to win international prizes of the Suisse Romande, of the RFT-France and the Gran Premio Internazionale of 1982 and recording with Soedi and with his own recording label. He wrote about 700 pieces of music including Parma Voladora, L’orchestrina del mio paese, (made famous by Cinico Angelini) and many classical transcriptions for accordion. In 1982, with lyrics by Umberto Tamburini, one of his songs won the Festival della canzone Parmigiana.

He left his hand print as many accordionists have, at the accordion museum in the alpine spa town of Recoaro Terme for national meeting of the Veterani della Fisarmonica in 1998.

For more than 30 years Nando Monica collborated with German music publishers Wurburger Musikverlag and Wurzburger Elwephon records whose publications and CDs we are very happy to stock at ZZ Music. We already stock his compositions Voilá Paris and Prestige and his wonderful transcriptions of La Campanella and Carnival of Venice and we are now pleased to present a bumper CD with no less than 28 tracks of Nando Monica and his wionderful playing entitled Pizza e Tarantella after its title track.  The album also features the fabulous musette swing waltz Prestige which we stock as sheet music. ZZ Music will be happy to obtain the music of any of the tracks featured on this album if do not currently have them in stock so please email us with your requests if you cannot find it on our site.

A bumper double-length album on one CD of no less than 28 delightful pieces of music ranging from light classics to continental ballroom and latin-american. Nando Monica with his trademark clarity really excels especially in the delightfully played Poet and The Peasant Overture by Franz Von Suppé. Pizza e Tarantella -Tarantella (Nando Monica/Fausto Fulgoni) Naples by day - Samba (Jose Chillo/Luci Durian/Otto Kracht) Sorriso - Waltz (Nando Monica/Luci Durian) Gardez - Tango (Horst Gubbatz) Swing in Blue - Medium Swing (Nando Monica/Luci Durian) Dichter un Bauer (The Poet and the Peasant) - Overture (Von Suppé - arr. Nando Monica/Bruno Mussini) Das Verruckte Akkordeon - Ritmo Allegro (Michele Corino/Nabbini arr. Luci Durian) Variety - Waltz (Luciano Wurzburger) Samba Night -Samba (Erwin Lehn) Tangordeon - Tango (Luciano Wurzburger/Otto Kracht) Mademoiselle Musette - Valse Musette (Otto Kracht) Nando's Mambo - Mambo (Nando Monica/Luci Durian) Bright Eyes - Slow (Nando Monica/ Luci Durian/ arr. Otto Kracht) Prestige - Musette Swing Waltz (Nando Monica) Bienvenido - Paso Doble (Horst Gubatz) Tangordeon - Tango (Luciano Wurzburger/arr. Otto Kracht) Sommertraum (Sogno D'estate) - Waltz (Nando Monica/Luciano Wurzburger) Marasco - Guaracha/Salsa (Nando Monica/ Luci Durian) Samba Power - Samba (Luciano Wurzburger/arr. Otto Kracht) Blaue Allee - Slow (Erwen Lehn) Remember me to Samy - Valse Musette (Luciano Wurzburger/ arr.Otto Kracht) Zingaresca - Ritmo Allegro (J. Roversol/ arr. Luci Durian) Premiere - Valse Musette (Luciano Wurzburger) Tangorsita Tango (Luci Durian/Otto Kracht) Recuerdo - Lambada (Horst Gubatz) Walzer fur Marleen - Waltz (Nando Monica/Luci Durian) Italienische Nacht (Notte Italiana) - Beguine ( G. Robuschi/Nando Monica/Luci Durian) Mega Polka - Polka (Bruno Mussini)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I remember meeting Nando Monica in the 1990s in his shop in Parma with Corrado Medioli.  He was a quiet unassuming man but with a lot of enthusiasm for music despite his advancing years.  I was saddened to hear of his passing in 2004 as he was a link to en era when every dance band had an accordionist and in his case a most excellent one.

 

Romano Viazzani

Gigi Stok – Romano Viazzani’s childhood accordion hero

Gigi Stok with Fratelli Crosio Accordion

Gigi Stok –  Romano Viazzani’s childhood accordion hero

Having an accordion-playing father I was exposed to the accordion at a young age not only when my father sometimes got his accordion out to practise or when his musician friends came round for a jam. He was a keen amateur and had circumstances been different I’m sure he would have loved to have been a professional accordionist. When our old Portadyne Radiogram finally gave up the ghost my father treated the family to a new Ferguson Stereogram, with stand alone speakers!! It would remain under dust covers on top of a cupboard but came out at Christmas time and Easter where we would listen to his record collection which featured accordionists like Toralf Tollefsen, Jo Basile, Jo Privat, Emile Prud’homme, Pino Piacentino, Carlo Venturi, Barimar, Nando Monica, Wolmer Beltrami and Gorni Kramer and others.  One of the most impressive was an accordionist who went by the name of Gigi Stok.

Gigi Stok was born Luigi Stocchi in Bianconese Parma, Italy in 1920. He studied the accordion under the guidance of Maestro Marmiroli, who together with Savi were amongst the best accordionists of their era. At the age of 13 he made his public debut together with his father, a singing storyteller, and here started his road to fame. He won the Concorso Nazionale di Fisarmonica in Macerata equal first place with Riccardo Ducci. In 1938 Stok joined the Tamani Orchestra a famous ensemble of its day.

Orchestra Tamani in 1946 after Gigi Stok had already left. Accordionist picture is Piero Barbieri
Orchestra Tamani in 1946 after Gigi Stok had already left. Accordionist picture is Piero Barbieri

After the interruption of the second World War, during which, he was dispatched to the artistic division after a colonel heard him play The Thieving Magpie on the accordion, Stok formed his own Ensemble and began to include some of his own compositions in the orchestra’s repertoire. After playing at the Casino in Parma he became a regular feature at the Giardino D’Inverno (Winter Garden) in Parma’s Ducale Park where he played three nights a week.  He also played at La Bussola, the famous seaside venue in Viareggio where he met a black Cuban singer Marino Barreto who he then employed as a singer in his own Ensemble at the Giardino D’Inverno.

 

 

Gigi Stok at the Giardino D'Inverno 1957
Gigi Stok at the Giardino D’Inverno 1957

In 1950s Parma, where he would have found it difficult to find a hotel that would give him bed and board. Nevertheless prejudices were soon defeated by this singer’s wonderful voice. After a brief success with Stok’s band, Barreto took off on an even more successful solo career taking half of Stok’ s band with him. Within a fortnight the not-to-be-defeated Stok had formed another band with which he had continued success.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cuban singer Marino Barreto
Cuban singer Marino Barreto

He, along with a handful of accordionists of his generation, were the accordionists that introduced the element of virtuosity into dance music just as was commonly seen in the American swing bands of the same era where artists such as Harry James on Trumpet, Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman on Clarinet, Lionel Hampton on Vibraphone, all did a similar thing in the 1940s. At the end of the 1940’s, after an audition where he played one of his own compositions namely Elettrico, His Masters Voice/EMI in Milan La Voce Del Padrone, realising his virtuosity offered him a recording contract, a relationship which was to last until the 1970’s. His successful recording career still required him to promote himself by a tiring touring schedule.

 

 

 

Gigi Stok and his Ensemble
Gigi Stok and his Ensemble

In 1966 he was asked to compose a piece for a Film that was to star the actor Ugo Tognazzi, well-known in Italy if not so much abroad. The film was L’Immorale and the piece was Vecchi Ricordi. Although ballroom dancing went out of fashion in the 1960’s, Gigi Stok did not, and remained popular especially amongst Italians from his region living outside Italy. In the brief period when the accordion would get booed off the stage he played bass in the band and started arranging light classical music for the accordion ready for it’s anticipated comeback.

By the late seventies Gigi Stok decided to take things a little easier and launched a band called I Cadetti di Gigi Stok where he would make the odd guest appearance but the accordion playing was left largely to Corrado Medioli. In respect of his technical perfection and contribution to Italian accordion music of the popular and ballroom genre, he was awarded the Life Achievement Award at the London Accordion Festival 2001. He was unfortunately unable to attend due to his already advancing illness but Corrado Medioli, who brought a letter of thanks from his wife Carolina, accepted the award on his behalf.

I Cadetti di Gigi Stok

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I first met him in 1982 in a village in the mountains called Cassio where he spent his summers and annually organised a local accordion festival. He had already retired from playing live by then but offered me, then aged only sixteen, words of encouragement in my work with my then fledgling band. I’m pleased to say that he lived up to the expectations as a person one has when one imagines what a childhood hero would be like.  He was avery nice, polite man who made me feel like he really was interested in what I had to say.

I spoke to him in the 1990s on the telephone and he recounted many interesting stories about his career. During this conversation I realised that his legendary reputation for technical excellence was not a myth. He told me that he was never really happy with those early recordings for His Master’s Voice because more often than not he only got to do one take and if he’d made a slight slip the producer would argue that it didn’t matter because the energy was right.

Being young and new to the game he didn’t want to argue so many years later in the 1970s and 80s he re-recorded many of those early tracks to a standard that was to his satisfaction. I have to say that anyone, no matter how musical, would be hard pressed to find the slip-ups that bothered him so much in those early recordings. Although his later recordings are beautifully played and technically perfect I have to say that those early recordings do have that certain energy and magic that the producer liked so much.
The line-up usually consists of Stok on accordion, accompanied by an acoustic guitarist and a Double Bassist joined by a pianist for the Tangos. The recordings breathe, like a live recording of a trio or a quartet should and so the ensemble playing is more interesting musically than the later “technically perfect” recordings which usually involve electric guitar, electric bass and sometimes keyboard and sax and are probably multi-tracked.

His Paganini’s Moto Perpetuo is impressive although for someone whose left-hand technique was so good, his decision to record it with electric bass and guitar might seem a little strange. Triumphal March from Aida (Verdi), Va Pensiero from Nabucco (Verdi), Radetzky March (J.Strauss) La Campanella (Paganini) amongst others were recorded in the same way. One can only imagine that a certain amount of popularisation was required in order to cater for his audiences in the same way Hooked on Classics brought classical music themes with a disco beat to the masses in the 1980s. His audiences would probably have known the accordion only as a vehicle for dance music or folk and perhaps were not yet ready for the more purist approach of his contemporary Gervasio Marcosignori.

I was very pleased to be able to arrange a special medley of his hits entitled Gigi Stok Fantasia for performance with the BBC Concert Orchestra at the same festival and together with Mauro Carra and Corrado Medioli had great fun playing it to an enthusiastic auditorium. It consisted of some of his more famous international successes, along with one or two of his lesser-known works. Vecchi Ricordi, Elettrico, Tango Gagliardo, Penombra ,L’ Indiavolata, L’Italiano a Parigi, Signora Fisarmonica, Il Silenzio Fuori Ordinanza and Brioso.

The accordion has moved on considerably in the last fifty years. Accordionists are playing music never before imagined so it is easy to scoff today at musicians that were pioneers in their day because their field was perhaps one that has always been associated with the accordion. The “Accordion Virtuoso”, who plays Monti’s Czardas and Dizzy fingers may have become a clichè today but play these pieces on a pre-war instrument and he can be likened to some of the young eastern- european players often seen heroically competing in festivals all over Europe ten years ago on accordions held together with gaffer tape. Add to this the amount of music that the average European of that era was exposed to, owning a radio if lucky, not to mention a TV and a different picture emerges. Gigi Stok sold records all over the world.  Still today I find his LPs cropping up on line from far flung places and especially from the United States.

Gigi Stok  Italy Dances   Capitol

Gigi Stok 10 inch LP

Gigi Stok Tangos

 

 

 

 

 

Gigi Stok died at the end of February 2003 after a 3-year battle against Alzheimers. He was buried on the 2nd of March in the village of his birth, Bianconese in the province of Parma where he had begun his career accompanying his father.

Gigi Stok and his peers made young players of his generation and later my own generation aspire to playing pieces where a good technique rendered a piece exciting and was a sign of bravura. His left-hand semi-quaver runs in fast waltz tempo made many players realise that the left-hand keyboard was for more than just vamping along. Gigi Stok limited himself to playing the dance music he knew best but nevertheless raised the profile of the accordion and it’s technical possibilities within that genre. I fully acknowledge and appreciate the influence his music had on me as an enthusiastic teenager wishing to attain the clarity and crispness of this man’s dazzling technique. He has been missed by many but I for one shall always keep a handful of his pieces well practised and regularly performed for a willing audience.