Birth, Development and Evolution

Unlike what has happened to other instruments of the tango, the origin of bandoneón is a subject in which the historians have only agreed in the place of their birth: Germany.

Not thus in the name of its creator. Some attribute their invention to Carl Friedrich (or Herman) “Uhlig” (1789-1874), who was born in a town called Chemnitz, in Sajonia.
In 1830 and for the fair of Leipzig, Uhlig presents an instrument that, modifying the English concertina of hexagonal boxes, is acquiring the form that it has at the moment but only with five notes in each one of its sides, now squares.

The new born instrument was essential to replace the organ, because of its high cost and difficult transfer, in the religious and funeral offices as well as in the street processions. It was executed hung of the neck and soon it began to be used to accompany jubilant dances in Baviera and Hamburg.

But who initiated its artisan production was Heinrich “Band” (1805-1888), native of the city of Krefeld. From his last name it derives its name, whereupon “Bandoneón” is known world-wide; with its diverse variants like Bandonium, Bandonión, Bandonio, Bandoleón. In Argentina it is called affectionately “Bandola”, but its commonest name between the players of the tango is “Fueye”.

Later it begun to be manufacturated on industrial scale. It was Alfred Arnold the one who, in 1864, sent to the market his famous mark “A-A”, and who in 1911 founded the “Alfred Arnold Bandonión, Konzertina und Piano Accordión Spezlal Fabrik”, that manufactured until 1949, with interruptions during the two world wars, the brands “Premier” and “América”, in addition to the ones named before.
The prestigious Hohner house, produced the marks “Germania”, “Tango”, “La Tosca”, “Concertista”, “El Pentagrama” and “Cardenal. Also the company “ Mainer and Herold” produced bandoneones with the mark “3B”.
Outside Germany are known instruments manufactured in Brazil by “Danielson”, but they were not successful between the Argentine executants, although in the south of that country and in the Argentine coast are still using them to interpret folkloric music of that region.

In Italy they were elaborated by “Panzotti”, and instruments in Japan have been done as well.
The Bandoneón is a portable aerophone with keys, action with two harmonic wood boxes, in whose interior they vibrate by the action of the air provided by bellows, metallic tongue-pieces. It was growing with time, and his different uses in sizes and amounts of notes; from that primitive one of Uhlig to the model at the moment used of 71 keys: 38 in the right part and 33 in the left, and a total of 142 voices.
There are them of black, brown, yellow and white colors. Their boxes have different presentations: from the original ones with acute vertices, to present with chamfered angles with the classic lira. Some models have nacre incrustations, and as a curiosity, they are indicated the ones called “Luis XV” with small elevations in its ends, concave the external edges of the box slightly and with a profuse rod.

Its arrival to Argentina

If its origin is discussed, much more it is when and whom introduced it here. On the subject there are also numerous hypotheses and versions: Augusto P. Berto says that was an English sailor, Tomas Moor who brought with himself one of 32 keys. Héctor Bats maintains that it was a Brazilian called Bartolo and Eros N. Sirl that a tropero of Pascualín name, brought of Germany. Others think that one of Brand’s sons came with the instrument that his father had made and gave the first lessons on its use to a native, Jose Santa Cruz, who soon transmitted his knowledge to his followers.
The only certain thing is that it arrived at the port of Buenos Aires towards 1870, without being known its mechanics and its technique, without musical tradition, virgin and empty: without history.

When it reached well-known diffusion through the tango, it began to being import from Germany, firstly by the company of “Emilio Pitzer”, soon by those of “Sharp and Veltrem”, “Oehrtmann”, “Romero y Fernández” and “Casa América”. There was an attempt to make them in Argentina by the house “Luis Mariani”, when its import from Germany was blocked by the 2nd. world war, but that praiseworthy initiative was truncated by diverse causes.


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