Louis Vitak

World Concertina Congress - WCC

Louis Vitak
Hall of Fame – 2024

Louis Vitak

Louis Vitak (1862-1933) was born in Janovice, Bohemia, now part of the Czech Republic. He emigrated to the United States in 1881 and settled in Canton, Ohio. He provided private instruction in wind and stringed musical instruments and also operated a wholesale business that sold musical instruments to local retailers. Louis composed and arranged music, and also instructed violin at Mount Union College in Alliance, Ohio from 1896-1897.

Louis moved his music business to Chicago, Illinois in 1902 where he joined a community of other similarly-situated European immigrants. In that same year, he partnered with the chemnitzer concertina master, Otto Georgi, to form the Georgi & Vitak Music Company. Georgi and Vitak worked together to publish a wide variety of popular musical arrangements in addition to selling musical instruments in their own retail store. By 1920, Georgi & Vitak had become a very successful and widely known music publisher with arrangements of polkas, waltzes, and marches for large orchestras, multi-piece bands, and individual musicians alike.

In 1925, Georgi and Vitak ended their partnership, and Louis invited his nephew, Joseph P. Elsnic, to join the business. They established the Vitak & Elsnic Music Company, a name that would become the gold standard of the Polka music publishing business. Over the next few years, Vitak transitioned leadership of the business to Elsnic, a musical phenomenon in his own right.

Louis retired in 1926 having made a superb choice of his successor, a man who would not only continue what he had started but who would build upon it. However, the legacy of Louis Vitak would live on, and every chemnitzer concertina musician since that time has enjoyed the musical arrangements made possible by this concertina pioneer.

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