Bandoneon related Biographies

Carl Friedrich Uhlig

Carl Friedrich Uhlig was born in Chemnitz, Saxony on April 23th, 1789 and died on July 9th, 1874. He worked as knit ware manufacturer in Chemnitz and played clarinet as well. On a trip to Vienna he knew Demian's accordion. Fascinated with this new instrument he tried to find out as many informations as possible about. Back to Chemnitz he started experimenting on the free reed thinking about realizing an instrument without programmed chords which he found not adequate for his music. Not knowing about Sir Charles Wheatstone's Symphonium of 1829, he created in 1834 his first one-row instrument with 5 keys on each side. One year later he founded his instrument company Phisharmonika und Accordion Fabrik von C. F. Uhlig - Chemnitz with an annexed store musikalische Instrumenten und Saiten Handlung and which later was renamed to Carl Friedrich Uhlig, Bandonion- und Konzertina - Fabrik, Chemnitz. Very soon he started exporting instruments with 2 and 3 rows to Russia and Great Britain. The fact that he could participate at the very expensive Manufacturer's Exhibition of München in 1854, the Industrial Exhibition 1867 in Dresden and as the Friedrich Lange (vorm. C. F. Uhlig) Konzertina- und Bandonion-Fabrik, Chemnitz in Chicago 1893, confirms his success making his products best known all over the world. many pictures

While in those times many free reed instruments still were single action instruments, that is, the reeds sounded only closing the bellow, his concept included already reed chambers which permitted two reeds per key. Instead of distributing single notes among both sides of the instrument, he assigned the right side to a melody instrument while the left had to fulfill harmonic requirements. The 3 rows of the harmony side where used for a tonica, the corresponding dominant and the third was a complementary one. The small amount of notes however limited the possibility of playing different keys. Therefor he used different instruments according to his requirements. The key labeled 5 on closing was always the key note for the instrument. Once a fingering was fixed for a given piece, it was simple to transpose it by using the instrument on an other key.

Uhlig named his instrument accordion like other manufacturers, since 5 years after the invention of Demian's instrument, the privilege had expired. However, there was no systematic terminology among the producers due to the need of attracting customers with new names and circumventing foreign rights. The name Concertina which came popular for his instruments later, was probably used first by Debain in Paris for his orgues expressives before 1840, and which later became the harmonium. In 1939 Debain sold his rights for 10 years to J. Alexandre.

Sir Charles Wheatstone changed the name of his instrument to Concertina in opportunity of his patent of 1844 since Regondi used this name during his popular performances on Wheatstone's instrument. R. Blagrove, owner of a Wheatstone instrument.

The Band Dynasty

The Band's were a musician's family. Peter Band, Heinrich Band's father, was owner of a music store in Krefeld and played violin during his free time. Heinrich Band, the second of 16 children, was born in Krefeld, Germany on April 4ALT=, 1821. In 1843 he founded his own shop for musical instruments and started selling accordions and other free reed instruments of the time, gave music lessons and played cello in the orchestra of Heinrich Geul. From 1845 on he begun to publish printed music.

It is not clear who's instruments he sold. He never build instruments: He was registered as merchant in Krefeld, had no employees and no factories there were able to deliver instruments. But in 1850 he advertised:

An die Accordionfreunde:
Durch eine neue Erfindung haben wir unsere Accordions wieder bedeutend vervollkommnet und sind diese Instrumente in neuer Konstruktion in runden und achteckigem Format von 88 bis 104 Töne bei uns vorrätig, welche wir, wie unsere bekannten 20 bis 88 tönigen Accordions zur gefälligen Abnahme bestens empfehlen.
which means: To the accordion friends:
Due to a new invention we could considerably improve our accordions and have these instruments on stock in round and octagonal shape from 88 to 104 voices which we recommend like our known 20 to 88 voice accordions to be purchased.

und rundem und achteckigem Format, von 88 bis 104 Tönen wie 20 bis 88

Note that he did not say anything about the originator of the new invention. But as a music teacher he could best introduce his products.

In the time from 1850 to 1856 he extended the previous 56 voice instrument gradually up to a 130 one. Instruments from 56 to 130 voices were available and additionally instruments with dual reeds came on the market. The popularity was not limited to the Rhine region and in 1856 the dealer Johann Schmitz advertises:

Lager in allen Arten von Accordion's, Concertino's, von einigen wohl auch Bandonions genannt, von 20 bis 220 Tönen mit Oktavenveränderung, welche alle bis jetzt angefertigten Zungeninstrumente in tragbarer Grösse übertreffen
which means:
Stock of all types of accordions, also called bandoneons by some, from 20 to 220 voic

The name BANDONION was composed by the name of the distributor and the ending of accordion. One year later the Hofmeister'sche Handbuch included the sheet music of Band in its catalogue.

For at least three things were important for Band's success:

So he did not invent the instrument, but his trade mark served to make it best known.

Band's instruments were very popular in the Rhine region and additionally he made compositions: in 1857 he publishes his own polkas and waltzes. While in 1847 Heinrich Geul advertises for music lessons strings, brass and accordion in 1857 he publishes a Band edition of his Op 15 für Bandonion.

For the expansion of the business he cooperated with the violinist Jacob Dupont. In 1959 his brother Johann Band established a company in Köln (Cologne) to distribute Band's products. The same occured in other places with the rest of his 5 male musician brothers.

It is known of representatives in Den Haag, Glasgow and New York. After Heinrich Band died on December, 2nd 1860, his widow Johanna Siebourg continued the business with Band's partner Dupont.

Alfred Band, the son of Heinrich, established near 1886 the Alfred Band Company he named Fabrik v. Bandonions – Verlag v. Musikalien f.Bandonion. Although the name of the company suggests a manufacture, Alfred Band acquired his instruments like his father from Saxony (possibly Waldheim) which he commercializes besides his publisher activity, selling sheet music, tutors and even an instruction for bandoneon maintenance together with a tool set for 15 German marks. But the strong competitors from Saxony forced him to sell his company, presumably to Artur Weber of Dortmund, a very important publisher and merchant of Westfahlen. In 1923 Alfred Band died and his unmarried daughter Maria Band, the only survived family member, continued working with a music shop and some publishing until her death in 1926.

Carl Friedrich Zimmermann

Carl Friedrich Zimmermann ( * Morgenröthe, August 1817 - October 20th 1898) was an instrument maker in Carlsfeld specialized on bellow instruments since the 1830ies. He is known to have build his first harmonikas there in 1849 after having learned C.F. Uhlig and which he called Concertina. He was probably the only manufacturer of the time able to build complex 102(104) voice instruments (Scheffler'sche Concertina). That was what Heinrich Band was looking for to realize his ideas. In 1854 in fact, if not earlier, he was producing with his brothers probably exlusively instruments for Heinrich Band. But after Heinrich Band died in 1860, depending of his principal client, he decided to sell the factory in 1864 to Ernst Louis Arnold, one of his formen and to emigrate to the United States. For a long time nobody knew about his resting life. Fortunately family members in the USA comunicated after the fall of the wall in 1989 that Charles F. Zimmermann continued as an instrument maker, as he patented an autoharp in 1882, and which he commercialized with great success.

The Arnold Family

Ernst Louis Arnold 1828 - 1910

The Arnold factory begins to grow fast and becomes one of the mayor bandoneon manufacturers. It is known, that Max Epperlein from Leipzig becomes Arnolds most important exporter around the beginning of the 20ALT= century. Epperlein travels to Buenos Aires where he remains many years. It is not clear if Epperlein has something to do with the introduction of the 142 voice system. Juan Maglio, is one of the first bandoneonists using the expanded voice system and it is also the time (1912) when the a 152 voice system is launched by the Arnold factory.

When Ernst Louis Arnold dies in 1910, the oldest son Ernst Hermann Arnold (1859 - 1946) takes over the production. It is not known exactly why, but the other two brothers, Paul Arnold (1866 - 1953) and Alfred Arnold (1878 - 1933) founded in 1911 at the same town Carlsfeld a second bandoneon factory, the Alfred Arnold Bandonion und Konzertina Fabrik, devoted nearly exclusively to the export market. But the first World War stopped the production. Due to the tango boom near 1925 and the important tango orchestras in Paris and other European places, the demand for bandoneons increased rapidly. It was the time when the two Arnold factories had to distinguish clearly their instruments: The Ernst Luis Arnold where labeled ELA and the Alfred Arnolds AA. The “doble A” became very famous, although the ELA instruments where equivalent if not better in quality.

On November 11th, 1933 Alfred Arnold dies and his son Horst Alfred Arnold (1905 - 1979) and his nephew Arno Arnold (1893 - 1970), son of Paul Arnold, continue to manage the production as they are introduced previously. Political reasons create problems for the bandoneon during the Nazi regime during 1933 - 1945. Only because of the export importance of the Arnold factories they are allowed to continue exporting, but they had no material guaranty. Short before the war, the Alfred Arnold Company is forced to use reed material from the Gebr. Dix AG factory in Gera, a highly specialized manufacturer. Some people believe this to be the time when the quality of the AA declined. During the world war the production ceased completely. After the war, Germany was divided and Carlsfeld passed to the soviet sector with a controlled production system. A few instruments left the factory but were rejected in Argentina because they did not show the AA-label. The instruments were sent back and were relabeled, but the quality did not satisfy the requirements. On May 7th, 1948 the Alfred Arnold factory was expropriated and closed. In 1950 it was turned into state property and in 1952 the installation was brought to the Klingenthaler Harmonikawerke the state's accordion manufacturer close to Carlsfeld with the promise to reactivate the bandoneon production. That never happened.

Arno Arnold could escape in 1949 from the GDR to the western town Obertshausen near Offenbach and were he started in 1950 a new production. However, his products did not match the market requirements and one year after his death, in 1970, the production had to finish for ever.

In 1959 the factory of Ernst Louis Arnold was incorporated into the Klingenthaler Harmonikawerke, but only in 1964 the production in Carlsfeld was stopped definitely and all the machinery was brought to Klingenthal.