Hall of Fame – 2022
Ernst Alfred Arnold (1873-1933) was the youngest son of Ernst Louis Arnold. Ernst, the elder, was an apprentice under Carl Friedrich Zimmermann (1817-1898) in Carlsfeld, Germany. Zimmerman is credited with designing and manufacturing the very early models of the German concertina and bandoneon. When Zimmermann emigrated to America in 1864, he sold the company and production equipment to Ernst, and Alfred helped to manage the ELA musical instrument business.
After Ernst died in 1910, Alfred joined his brothers Herman and Paul in operating their father’s business. In 1922, he decided to found his own company and created the “Alfred Arnold Bandonion und Konzertina Fabrik Carlsfeld” (“Alfred Arnold Bandoneon and Concertina Factory Carsfeld”). He started his business in the same house where Zimmermann built his first concertina. Alfred is credited with his innovations to modernize the musical instrument production process by introducing mechanized equipment that was powered by the newly developed German electricity grid. He built a new factory in Johanngeorgenstadt to accommodate the additional equipment that was needed to meet the growing demand for AA musical instruments.
As designs changed the technical mechanics of the German concertina and bandoneon, there was a growing desire from musicians for a better-looking instrument. Alfred was the first manufacturer to enhance the traditional plain wood finish of the instruments by adding decorative embellishment with inlays of silver wire and mother-of-pearl. This allowed the musicians to give their instruments a unique and individual appearance.
When Alfred Arnold died in 1933, one hundred AA employees were producing more than 600 instruments per month, the majority being exported outside of Germany.