Timeline

ConcertinaMusic.com has assembled the following historical timeline of concertina-related events to provide you with a perspective on the long history of the concertina, and specifically the chemnitzer concertina in the United States.

2000 B.C.

In ancient China, under the rule of Emperor Huang Tei, a mouth blown musical instrument is created. It uses free reeds placed in resonator pipes and is named a tscheng.

 
Late 1700s

The Abbey Vogler brings a tscheng back to Europe after seeing one while on a visit to Russia.

 
1810

Grenie of Bordeaux, France invents an organ which uses free reeds in resonator pipes as well as the traditional flue pipes.

 
1814

Eschenbach of Bavaria produces the Organo Violine which uses free reeds.

 
1816

Slimbach produces the Aeroline, Eoline or Elodion, and adapts two air pumps to his instrument in 1820.

 
1821

Haeckel of Vienna produces the Physharmonica to be fitted under a piano keyboard.

Friedrich Buschman of Berlin produces the Aerolina, a free-reed instrument blown by the mouth. This was a predecessor to the modern harmonica.

 
1822

Buschman produces a bellows-driven version of his Aerolina, calling it the Handaeoline.

 
1825

Hotz begins making harmonicas in Khittlingen. The factory eventually becomes part of the Hohner Corporation.

 
1827

Messner begins making harmonicas in Trossingen, Wurtemburg, where a Hohner factory is eventually situated.

 
1829

Jacob Alexandre founds his firm of reed organ Harmonium builders in Paris, France.J.W.Glier founds the Klingenthal Harmonica Industry.

Cyrillus Demian in Vienna improves upon Buschmann’s Handaeoline and produces an instrument he calls the Handharmonica.

Charles Wheatstone receives a patent entitled “Improvements to musical instruments.” The main subject is a keying system and keyboard layout, and the application is to a mouth-blown Symphonium. He is reputed to have made various experimental instruments.

 
1832

Carl Zimmerman of Carlsfeld, Saxony introduces a concertina with ten buttons on each side. The bisoronic instrument produces forty notes.

 
1835

Carl F. Uhlig of Chemnitz, Germany was an accomplished button accordion musician. Dissatisfied with the bass end of the instrument, he chopped the right-hand keyboard in half and fitted it into a small hexagonal box. With five buttons on each side, he calls the new instrument a Concertina. This design quickly gains another row of buttons so that it would play in two keys, C and G. These instruments were produced cheaply and in large quantities. Many went to Ireland and England. Little more than a toy, it was probably a simple money maker for the manufacturer. Uhlig continued to develop his own instrument and to improve upon Carl Zimmerman’s earlier design.

 
1838

Debain, a reed organ maker in Paris, produces an expressive reed organ with two different air pressures in an attempt to strengthen the melody over the accompaniment. He also calls his instrument a Concertina.

 
1840

Henrich Band, a music teacher and bandmaster from Krefeld on Rhine, learns Uhlig’s concertina and tries to play it in his town band. The instrument is now square with 27 or 28 buttons. Band continues to look for ways to improve the instrument for orchestral use.

 
1844

Charles Wheatstone receives a patent for “An Improved Concertina,” a detailed design for an instrument similar to those produced today. The patent covered various duet keyboard systems and also included other features like the ability to tune the reeds externally with a watch key and plucking the reeds to make them speak faster. Wheatstone’s instruments played the same note press or draw. His patent covered a flap valve arrangement that allowed the same reed to be used for either movement of the bellows. It directed the air to pass through the reed in the same direction for press or draw.

 
1846

Henrich Band produces and markets an improved version of Uhlig’s concertina. The new design has 50 buttons and he called it a Band-Union concertina because his family and relatives were all involved in creating it. The number of buttons gradually increases over the next thirty years to 53, 56, 64 and finally 65 (the 130-key bandoneon).

 
1850

Uhlig’s 56-key concertina is being produced by Carl Zimmerman in Carlsfeldt, Germany for export to the United States.

 
1851

J.M.Stroh, known for the Stroh Violin that featured a horn and sound box for better acoustics, works with Charles Wheatstone to patent a design for a harmonium. Though Wheatstone patented a concertina, it is Stroh who is thought to have perfected its sound by determining the correct size for the tone chambers.

 
1852

Bouton of Paris, France invents the piano accordion.

 
1854

Uhlig chairs a committee of eleven other concertina manufacturers in Chemnitz, Germany to develop the standardized Chemnitzer keyboard and music notation. It is thought to be based on a system originally conceived by Henrich Band in 1846. At this point, a split begins between the bandoneon and the chemnitzer. The bandoneon captures the German market, and the chemnitzer becomes mainly an export to the United States.

 
1861

William Wheatstone, Charles Wheatstone’s brother, patents a new action to move the buttons nearer the top of the instrument.

Death of Louis Lachenal, a subcontractor to Wheatstone. Lachenal & Company continues making concertinas for Wheatstone up to about 1865.

 
1863

Uhlig turns over the manufacture of his concertina to longtime employee, Friedrich Anton Lange.

 
1864

Ernest Ludwig (Louis) Arnold takes over Carl Zimmerman’s business in Carlsfeldt, Germany.

 
1865

Friedrich Lange moves his concertina factory to Chemnitz-Bernsdorf, Germany.

 
1868

The number of reeds in a chemnitzer concertina are doubled, sounding an octave for each tone.

 
1874

Carl F. Uhlig passes away.

 
1875

The keyboard of the Uhlig-designed chemnitzer is expanded to 38 buttons (76-key).

 
1880

Otto Georgi emigrates from Chemnitz, Germany to Chicago, Illinois where he plays, teaches, promotes, imports and publishes music for the chemnitzer concertina.

 
1884

Professor MacCann patents a system for a duet type concertina, similar to William Wheatstone’s ideas in 1861.

 
1885

Henry Silberhorn emigrates from Bavaria to Chicago, Illinois where he plays, teaches, promotes, imports and publishes music for the chemnitzer concertina.

 
1889

Lachenal & Company registers a design for their Edeophone.

Otto Georgi organizes the Chicago Concertina Club in Chicago, Illinois.

 
1890

Henry Silberhorn begins instructing students to play the chemnitzer concertina in Chicago, Illinois.

The Milwaukee Concertina Circle is organized in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

 
1891

Ernest Glass begins to produce chemnitzer concertinas in Chicago, Illinois under the brand name of Glass.

Friedrich Anton Lange passes the Lange Concertina Company to his son, Friedrich Emil Lange.

 
1892

Friedrich Anton Lange passes away.

 
1893

The Czech-American Concertina Club is organized in Chicago, Illinois.

Otto Georgi and Friedrich Emil Lange display chemnitzer concertinas at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois.

 
1896

John Butterworth patents another duet system named The Crane. A large firm named Crane takes up the manufacture of these concertinas in Liverpool, England. Lachenal & Company, who assisted Butterworth with his patent builds the instruments for Crane.

 
1899

Wheatstone & Company produces their first eight-sided Aeola design.

 
1900

The 102-key chemnitzer is exported to the United States, though photos of Uhlig would suggest that he was very close to finalizing the design back in 1874.

The 142-key diatonic bandoneon is available in Argentina. German sailors are reputed to be selling them in the streets of Buenos Aires. The popular tango emerges with the bandoneon as the principal instrument.

 
1902

Otto Georgi and Louis Vitak partner (Georgi & Vitak) to sell concertinas and sheet music arranged for the chemnitzer from their store in Chicago, Illinois.

Otto Schlicht and his associates begin to produce chemnitzer concertinas in the United States for Georgi & Vitak under the Pearl Queen brand name.

 
1907

The Salvation Army starts using Crane duet concertinas, renaming them the Triumph system.

 
1910

Henry Silberhorn publishes his first version of Henry Silberhorn’s Instructor for the Concertina.

Ernest Glass is joined by his sons Otto and Paul in the manufacture of Glass Concertinas.

Ernst Ludwig (Louis) Arnold (ELA Concertinas and Bandoneons) passes away. Ernst Hermann Arnold, the eldest son takes over the manufacture of ELA instruments.

 
1911

Paul Arnold and Alfred Arnold begin to manufacture AA Concertinas and Bandoneons) in Carlsfeld, Germany.

 
1915

Andrew Karpek begins to manufacture and sell accordions and concertinas from his store in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

 
1917

Rudy Patek begins to sell concertinas and sheet music arranged for the chemnitzer from his store in Chicago, Illinois.

Otto Schlicht and his associates begin to produce chemnitzer concertinas in the United States for Rudy Patek under the Patek brand name.

The International Accordion Company opens in Chicago, Illinois, founded by Walter Kadlubowski Sr., Walter Mojsewicz and Kajetan Perkowski. They manufacture several models of accordions and chemnitzer concertinas under the brand names of International, Schukert, Sitak, and Silberhorn.

 
1919

The Cicero Concertina Circle is founded in Cicero, Illinois.

 
1925

Otto Georgi and Louis Vitak partner (Georgi & Vitak) end their partnership.

Louis Vitak and his nephew, Joseph P. Elsnic, partner (Vitak & Elsnic) to sell concertinas and sheet music arranged for the chemnitzer from their store in Chicago, Illinois.

 
1926

The International Accordion Company begins producing chemnitzer concertinas under the brand name of Star.

 
1930

Henry Silberhorn begins selling the Clarion Concertina, an instrument built according to his own design.

Henry Silberhorn organizes the Clarion Concertina Club in Chicago, Illinois.

The International Accordion Company goes out of business while Walter Mojsiewicz continues to build its Star brand concertinas under a new company, the Star Concertina and Music Company.

 
1932

Otto Schlicht receives a patent for “Action for a Concertina,” improving upon previous designs from other manufacturers.

 
1933

Friedrich Emil Lange passes away.

Alfred Arnold passes away. His son Horst Alfred Arnold and his nephew Arno Arnold continue to manage the manufacture of AA instruments.

 
1934

Lachenal & Company closes for business.

 
1937

Walter Kadlubowski Sr. passes away.

 
1940

The chemnitzer makes its way into mainstream polka music in the United States. Musicians and arrangers such as Eddie Zima introduce the instrument and extend its popularity to thousands of Polish-American music fans.

 
1942

Pat Watters begins to sell concertinas and sheet music arranged for the chemnitzer from his store in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

 
1948

Alfred Arnold Company close their factory.

 
1950

Otto Schlicht’s associates close their Chicago factory.

 
1951

Otto and Paul Glass cease the production of the Glass Concertina.

 
1952

Ernst Louis Arnold Company close their factory.

 
1955

Christy Hengel begins to produce concertinas in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota under the brand name of Hengel using concertina manufacturing equipment purchased from Otto Schlicht. Christy moves the manufacturing to Waseca, Minnesota in 1958 and finally to New Ulm, Minnesota in 1965.

 
1960

Stan Uhlir begins to produce concertinas in Minneapolis, Minnesota under the brand name of Echo.

 
1961

Henry Silberhorn passes away.

 
1963

Walter Kadlubowski Jr. purchases Star Concertina in Chicago, Illinois.

 
1964

Eraldo Carbonari joins Walter Kadlubowski Jr. as a partner in Star Concertina in Chicago, Illinois.

 
1967

Anton Wolfe purchases Rudy Patek’s remaining stock of concertina components and begins to manufacture the Wolfe brand concertina in Stevens Point, Wisconsin.

 
1970

Arno Arnold passes away.

 
1971

The Central Wisconsin Concertina Club is founded in Wausau, Wisconsin.

The last bandoneon is produced by the Arno Arnold company.

 
1974

Pompilio Rosciani and Umberto Carroci, owners of the Imperial Accordion Company, purchase Star Concertina in Chicago, Illinois.

 
1975

The World Concertina Congress (“WCC”) is established.

Steve Dickinson purchases Wheatstone & Company.

 
1979

Art Altenburg opens Art’s Concertina Bar in Milwaukee, Wisconsin featuring weekly chemnitzer concertina jam sessions.

 
1980

Wheatstone & Company changes their name to Boosey & Hawkes (Concertinas) Limited.

 
1984

Bob Novak joins Stan Uhlir to assist with the design and manufacture of the Echo Concertina.

 
1986

Bill Brown of Brown’s Music Store in New Ulm, Minnesota acquires the remaining sheet music inventory of the Vitak-Elsnic company.

 
1988

Walter Kadlubowski Jr. and Rich Raclawski began building Eagle brand concertinas in Prospect Heights, Illinois.

 
1989

John Bernhardt and Ed Cogana purchase Star Concertina in Chicago, Illinois. Bernhardt eventually becomes sole owner.

Bob Novak becomes the sole owner of Echo Concertina.

 
1990

Boosey & Hawkes (Concertinas) Limited closes for business.

 
1991

Karpek Concertina closes its Milwaukee, Wisconsin store.

 
1992

Walter Kadlubowski Jr. passes away.

Rich Raclawski becomes the sole owner of Eagle Concertina.

 
1994

Anton Wolfe sells the majority of his concertina tooling and parts inventory to Jerry Minar of New Prague, Minnesota.

 
1995

Jerry Minar begins his Hengel Concertina building career, selling Hengel brand concertinas as part of his company, JBM Sound, Inc.

 
1996

ConcertinaMusic.com is introduced to the world via the Internet with a very modest collection of one, free sheet music title: All I Want For Christmas Is A Concertina.

Stanley Uhlir, the original manufacturer of the Echo brand concertina passes away.

 
2000

Star Concertina of Chicago, Illinois, closes for business.

 
2002

The Czech Area Concertina Club is founded in New Prague, Minnesota.

 
2007

John Bernhardt, the last owner of Star Concertina passes away.

Art Altenburg sells Art’s Concertina Bar in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Andy Kochanski. The renamed Kochanski’s Concertina Beer Hall maintains Altenburg’s concertina traditions.

 
2008

Josh Sellner begins to manufacture the Supreme Concertina in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota.

 
2010

The United States Concertina Association (“USCA”) is founded as a virtual entity.

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