10 of the Most Famous Accordion Players Ever

The accordion is a popular instrument that has been around for centuries. It’s a unique and fascinating instrument with a long history. It is often associated with European and Latin American music but has also gained popularity in other parts of the world.

Many famous accordion players have thrilled audiences with their virtuosic performances. Here are ten of the most famous accordion players ever.

1. Lawrence Welk

Though he passed away in 1992, Lawrence Welk is still one of the most famous accordion players ever. Hailing from a family of German immigrants, Welk learned to play the accordion at a young age and went on to develop his own unique style. Though his music was often criticized by critics, Welk found great success with his television show, “The Lawrence Welk Show.”

The program featured a mix of popular music and traditional folk tunes, and it became a mainstay of American culture for over three decades.

Even today, countless accordion players aspire to emulate Welk’s playing style, making him one of the most influential musicians of his generation. There’s no doubt that Lawrence Welk was truly original and remains an enduring icon of American culture.

2. Myron Floren

Myron Floren was one of the most famous accordion players ever. He was born in the small town of Roslyn, South Dakota, in 1919. Floren’s talent quickly became apparent, and he soon began to tour with various bands.

In 1950, he joined the Lawrence Welk Orchestra and quickly rose to fame. He appeared on “The Lawrence Welk Show” as an accordionist for the show and became one of the most famous musicians in America.

Floren died in 2005, but his music continues to live on. In 1990, he was awarded the International Polka Music Hall of Fame. This honor is a testament to Floren’s skill as an accordion player and his lasting influence on the world of polka music.

3. Guido Deiro

Guido Deiro was one of the most famous accordion players ever. He was born in Salto Canavese, Italy in 1886 and moved to America with his family when he was just a child.

Deiro began playing the accordion at a young age and soon developed his own unique style. He quickly became popular on the vaudeville circuit and began touring with some of the biggest names in show business, including Charlie Chaplin.

Publicly known as Deiro, he was one of the first musicians to make a career out of playing the accordion. He also composed several popular songs, including “Sharpshooter’s March” and “La Spagnola.” Deiro’s influence can still be felt today, as he is credited with popularizing the accordion in America.

4. Pietro Frosini

Pietro Frosini was born in 1885 in the small town of Catania, Sicily. When Pietro was six years old, he began playing the accordion. He quickly showed a natural talent for the instrument and by the time he was a teenager, he was already performing professionally. In 1905, Pietro moved to America and was discovered by a talent scout.

He quickly became one of the most popular performers in the country and soon started appearing on radio and television. He became friends with Deiro and adapted his style of playing to fit the American market. Pietro’s fast and flashy playing style thrilled audiences and made him one of the most famous accordion players of his generation.

5. Nick Ariondo

Few people can say they’ve made a career out of playing the accordion, but Nick Ariondo is one of them. Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Italian-American parents, Ariondo began playing the accordion at the age of seven. Throughout his career, he has played with some of the biggest names in the music industry.

In addition to his solo work, Ariondo has also played with various symphony orchestras and pop bands. His unique style of playing has made him a popular choice for movie soundtracks and commercials. Ariondo’s accomplishments have earned him widespread acclaim and recognition as one of the greatest accordion players of all time.

6. Charles Magnante

Charles Magnante was one of the most accomplished accordionists of his generation. A prodigy, he began learning to play his father’s accordion secretly. He went on to tour in various locations, appearing as a soloist and with some of the most prestigious orchestras. In addition to his concert work, Magnante was also a prolific recording artist, releasing more than two dozen albums.

He was also an innovator, developing new techniques for playing the accordion that expanded its range and expressive possibilities. He is also one of the twelve founders of the American Accordionists’ Association, an organization that promotes the accordion and its music.

7. Henry Doktorski III

Henry Doktorski III was born in 1956 into a family of Polish-American parents. When Henry was just seven years old, he began taking accordion lessons from his father. It quickly became apparent that he had a natural talent for the instrument. By the time he was a teenager, Henry was already performing professionally.

Henry graduated summa cum laude from Park College and went on to pursue a different path before coming back to playing the accordion in 1986. Since then, he has been one of the most in-demand accordionists, winning the American Accordion Musicological Society solo competition.

His virtuosic playing and commitment to expanding the repertoire have made him one of the most respected accordionists alive.

8. William Schimmel

William Schimmel is one of the most well-known and respected accordionists in the world. His career has spanned several decades, during which time he has performed with some of the most prestigious orchestras and ensembles. He has also been a soloist with many of the world’s most prestigious symphony orchestras.

In addition to his work as a performer, Schimmel is also an accomplished composer and arranger. He has written numerous works for accordion, as well as for other instruments and ensembles. Schimmel has a doctorate in music from the Juilliard School. He helped shape the accordion’s role in the 20th century and continues to be a leading force in the world of accordion music.

9. Dick Contino 

Dick Contino was one of the most successful and well-known accordionists of his generation. He began playing the instrument at a young age and quickly developed a loyal following.

His talents were in high demand, and he toured extensively throughout the United States. In addition to his work as a solo performer, Contino also appeared on television and in film, including an appearance in the popular film “Girls Town”.

However, despite his success, Contino’s career was not without its challenges. He was sent out during the Korean war and fled back due to severe trauma and other mental health issues. Nonetheless, he continued to play the accordion up until his passing in 2017. Dick Contino was a true pioneer in the world of accordion music, and his legacy continues to inspire musicians today.

10. Mogens Ellegaard

Known as the “Father of The Classical Accordion”, Mogens Ellegaard was a renowned Danish accordionist, composer, and teacher. He was born in Denmark in 1935 and passed away in 1995.

Ellegaard was a child prodigy and began playing the accordion at the age of eight. He quickly became known as a virtuoso accordionist and went on to perform with some of the world’s most prestigious orchestras, including the Royal Philharmonic and all Danish orchestras.

In later years, he served as a full-time professor at The Royal Danish Academy of Music where he built an accordion department. He played an important role in promoting the accordion as a serious musical instrument and was responsible for training some of the world’s most accomplished accordionists today.

Final Thoughts

Accordion music has come a long way since its humble beginnings. Today, there are accordionists all over the world who are renowned for their skill and artistry.

The ten musicians on this list are just a small sampling of the many talented people who have made the accordion their instrument of choice. Each one has helped to shape the sound of the accordion and bring it to new audiences.

William Schimmel Featured Image (Bottom-Left) by: Marek Lazarski, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Brian Clark is a multi-instrumentalist and music producer. He is passionate about practically all areas of music and he particularly enjoys writing about the music industry.

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