The Free-Reed Journal
Articles and Essays Featuring Classical Free-Reed Instruments and Performers

Concertina Literature

by Hilding Bergquist
Minneapolis, Minn.

This article was reprinted in its entirety from the October, 1950 issue of Accordion World (New York).

Although I have given the major original concertina literature in the previous bibliographies, I thought it advisable to prepare this "addendum" list of a few other various composers which will comprise the first part, and in the concluding portion the songs and guitar works by Giulio Regondi, which I think will be found to be an interesting supplementary list to his original concertina works given previously.

First, although W. Sterndale Bennett, a major English composer of the last century, has been stated to have written for the concertina, I have not found anything about such selections, so I only mention his name for reference.

Wallace, another major English composer, is also said to have written for concertina, but the only instance I have found is his "Premier Nocturne" in G for concertina and piano, which he either collaborated upon with Regondi, or Regondi arranged it. It was published by Wheatstone around 1853, #1213, but out of print today, and also published by Wessel (Ashdown) in 1856.

Joseph Warren wrote three "Preludes" (Modulations and Cadences) still available from Wheatstone, #'s 1441-2-3. They are for concertina solo. And around 1853 Wheatstone published for concertina and piano Warren's arrangement of Mauro Giuliani's (a famous guitarist) "Introduction and Variations on an Admired Theme by Cimarosa", but not listed today.

Warren, in collaboration with the harpist, Oberthur, also wrote "Mon Sjour a Darmstadt" (Nocturne) for concertina and harp, published around 1853 by Wheatstone, but not listed today.

Henry Albano wrote an "Imitation of Church Bells and Organ" for concertina solo, but now out of print by Wheatstone, #2460. Alexander Prince, a leading concertinist, beautifully recorded these church bells imitations in the selection, "The Blue Bells of Scotland", made some 35 years ago on Pathe and Gennett Records.

John C. Ward wrote a "Nocturne in B Flat" Wheatston # 2381, and still available. If this is an arrangement it is not stated.

A woman, Clementine Ward, has also "Romance in G" Wheatstone #2190 and is still available. If this is an arrangement, it is not listed.

R. S. Pratten wrote "Two Romances" Wheatstone #2139, and still is available. If these are two arrangements, it is not listed.

Floyd Choll wrote "Two Reveries" (Larghetto) Wheatstone # 2341, and Adagio, # 2342, both out of print.

A woman, Annie W Pelzer wrote "Ah Che Assorta" (Valse Brilliante) Wheatstone, # 2119, and still available. Also she wrote "Nel Cor Piu" (Morceau De Salon) published in 1854, but out of print today, Wheatstone # 2130. Addison Co. in 1856 published "Romance" by her, but not listed by Wheatstone.

J. A. Astley wrote "Couronee D'Or" a quartet for 1st, 2nd Trebles, Baritone, bass Concertinas and still available from Wheatstone, #2480. If this is an arrangement, it is not stated. If this is an original work, it is probably the first in this media.

The only instance of a selection for concertina and guitar in Wheatstone's Catalog is a Potpourri from "Der Freischutz" by Kuffner, and still available, #2370.

And now, before proceeding to the songs and guitar works of Regondi, perhaps it is just as well I list a few other of his pieces for concertina, (not given in previous writings), so as to have his works as complete as possible.

Expressly for (baritone) concertina solo, Regondi wrote four pieces which seem seemingly original, but if they are arrangements, it is not stated in Wheatstone's Catalog. Number 1259 is "Ricordati Di Me", still available. Number 1260 is "Thou Art Gone From My Gaze", still available. Number 1269 is "Remembrance", now out of print. 1270 is "Souvenir D'Amitie", now out of print.

In collaboration with Krakamp, Regondi wrote 4 "flower" Romances called Flora, which Wheatstone published around 1853 for concertina and piano. No.1, La Rose, still available. No. 2, La Tulipe, not listed today. No.3 - La Violette, still available, #1258. No.4 - L'AE : llet - not listed today.

In collaboration with the renowned harpist, Oberthur, Regondi wrote "Souvenir De Scwalbach" (Nocturne in F, Op. 42) published by Wheatstone around 1853, in two versions, one for concertina and piano, 1230, another for concertina and harp, 1230a. Both out of print today.

Also published by Wheatstone around 1853, but not listed today, were seven songs of the masters arrange by Regondi for voice, piano, and concertina obbligato, and called "Les Concerts de Societe". These were: 1. Oh! See the Moon's Liv'ry Light (Schubert) 2. Spring's First Breezes (Kalliwoda) 3. The Fleecy Clouds (Proch) 4. By a Brook a You Was Lying (Proch) 5. The Captive Nightengale (Proch) 6. Happy, Quiet, Peaceful Vale (Kalliwoda) 7. Art Thou Mine? (Lachner)

Although Clinton is seemingly giving composer credit in Wheatstone's catalog, Clinton, together with Regondi, wrote two trios for two treble concertinas and piano. Number 1299 is "First Two Ongarese". Still available. Number 1300 is "Second Trio Ongarese" still available. These were also published first around 1853.

We now come to the songs composed by Regondi for voice and piano, or rather, with piano. His earliest songs were published by Wessel (later called Asdown). (Wessel, incidentally, was the original publisher of Chopin's piano works in England.) Whether Asdown, (who is publishing today) have Regondi's songs available, I do not know. An inquiry can be made by concertinists or accordionists who also sing, and who would have pleasure in investigating the songs of the versatile Regondi.

Regondi's first song with piano was "Absence" which he dedicated to the woman pianist Mdlle. Isabelle Schuster, and published in 1854 by Wessel (Ashdown.)

In 1855 Addison Co. (and possibly also Wessel-Ashdown) published his "Tell Me, My Heart, Why so Desponding?" with words by Miss Grace Sterling. The following review of it is from the "Musical World" for January 5,1856, page 14:

"It has great merit, since it not only avoids commonplace but also attains refinement. We may suggest however, that the transition into E major from D Major (page 6) on the words, "there mission is sublime" is forced and unnatural. This is the only spot in a composition charming in every other respect. The verses of Miss Grace Sterling, who officiates as poetess both to Regondi and others, are (not to pun) remarkable for their sterling grace. They will bear indeed (as Wagner might say) to be contemplated narrowly and examined soberly.

In either 1855 or 1856 Wessell published his "As Slowly Parts the Shades of Night".

In 1860 Wessell published his "L'Avviso" for mezzo-soprano, with Italian words. The "Musical World" for March 17, 1860 said:

"L'Avviso (canzone per mezzo-soprano) is the composition of a thorough musician, graceful, and melodious and inexpensive."

And of the same song "Athenaeum" for March 31, 1860 said: "Holding, as we do, Signor Regondi to be one of the few executive musicians of genius living, every work by him commands attention, since it can hardly fail to bear the stamp of true metal. Neither does Canzone L'Avviso a graceful and melodious song for a mezzo-soprano, showing, nevertheless, inexperience of vocal writing in the too arbitrary repetition of two forms (making up a two bar phrase) throughout the song. A touch of two in removal of this monotony would have made it charming. Let us hope that Signor Regondi will write more for the voice."

And it does seem that he did write six more songs which were published by Purday Co. and first advertised in 1864 in the "Musical World". These were: 1. Leave me not lonely. 2. The lonely cloud. 3. The orphan child. (sung by the well known vocalist Miss Poole) 4. Parting and meeting. 5. Wake her not rudely. 6. The mermaids. (This a duet.)

And now we come to Regondi's guitar works, which, although they are not many in number, nevertheless require virtuosi to play them. The following 5 works were published undated by Jean Andre in Offenbach, Germany.

1.Reverie in D, Op. 19 (Nocturne) 2. Fete Villagegeoise in D, Op 20 (Rondo Caprise) . First Airt Varie in D Op 21. 4. Second Air Varie in D, Op 22. 5. Introduction et Caprice, in E, Op. 23.

These were also available from Purday Co. and Augener Co. in London. In the US they were imported by the H. F. Odell Co. in Boston, and Carl Fischer and G. Schirmer firms in New york, I believe, but apparently are not available today. Fortunately, the Library of Congress in Washington have them. I too, have acquired them, and at a suitable time will try to prevail upon some recognized guitarist to play and record these works.

Regondi also wrote a number of Etudes for Guitar, of which all were probably published by the Free (International) Society for the Promotion of Good Guitar Music in Augsburg, Germany, of which I also possess "Etude no. 4." They had also been obtained from F. Sprenzinger in Augsburg - Lechhausen, Germany, and the HF Odell Co. in Boston. They were also undated.

In my references I find that Regondi, on May 14, 1862 at the Hanover Square Rooms, played one of his "Air Varies for Guitar", upon which occasion he also played Molique's Second Concerto for concertina in D Minor, Op. 66, and accompanied by a full orchestra conducted by Alfred Mellon, who also conducted all the symphony orchestra concerts of the Musical Society of London.

Also, at the same Rooms two years later on June 30, 1864, he played on guitar his "Reverie" (Nocturne) Op. 19, and "Fete Villageoise", Op. 20, as well as the premiere performance of his "Introduction et Caprice", Op. 23. This concert, also, heard his premier playing of Franz Bosen's Concerto for the Concertina in D Major, accompanied at the piano by Fransesco Berger.

One write wrote of Regondi's guitar works: "Technically, they might be compared with (violinist) Paganini's guitar compositions, and at times remind one of Chopin and Mendelssohn."

Before Regondi arrived in England in June 1831, he had been famous as a child guitar prodigy in all the Courts of Europe, and in reference to Paganini, it is interesting to note that Paganini already then a mature artist, and the child Regondi both arrived in England at almost the same time. Paganini heard Regondi play, for in the "Athenaeum" for September 3, 1831, page 573, a critic, writing of a conversation he had with the great violinist about Regondi's guitar playing, states that Paganini's "expressed his most unqualified astonishment and delight at young Regondi's performances." Paganini should have stayed around a little longer and heard Regondi play concertina shortly after!

Also, probably still preserved today in the Archives - dedicated to a lady pupil, is stated to have been in the possession of Ernest Shand, a London guitarist of some 50 years ago. An original work.

Also, probably still preserved in the Archives of the Society of Friends of Music in Vienna, Austria, are two other treasured manuscript pieces by Regondi, dated "February 9, 1841, Vienna." One is an "Andante de Leonhard Schulz", in A, for guitar. Schulz was a guitarist, friend of Regondi. And the other an original work for concertina. Both pieces were written for and dedicated to Baron M. Wimpffen, resulting probably from Regondi having played in the home of the music loving Barron, as also did Paganini, for there is also a piano piece dedicated by hum to Countess Wimpffen.

The Library of Congress also has three lines of Manuscript guitar music by him (Regondi) signed and dated "February 4, 1841, Vienna", which is included in a collection of 110 album leaves compiled in an autograph book formerly belonging to W. A. Mozart, son of the great composer. The Regondi music leaf number is 108.

Giulio Regondi's best guitar work is undoubtedly his "Reverie" (Nocturne) Op. 19, and has been described as being "distinguished for its graceful form and elegant harmonies, and is considered a super-production and one of the most notable guitar compositions of the last century."

In fact, this "Reverie" was so much liked by his friend and pianist, Frederic D'Alquen, that the latter gentleman made a piano transcription of it, which was published by Ashdown, and is possible still available today. There is such a euphonious eulogy of it in the review from "The Musica World" for October, 21, 1871, page 681, that I can't resist quoting it:

"This is a pianoforte adaptation of Giulio Regondi's Nocturne - Reverie, Op. 19, one of the most melodious, charming, and ingenious effusions ever written for the guitar of which Regondi is and has always been far and far away the most accomplished master. No amateur need be told what this truly admirable artist has in time been able to do, with the instrument of his predilection - or, rather, one of the instruments of his predilection, remembering as we do, that his mastery of the guitar is scarcely exceeded by his mastery of the concertina. But above all, Signor Regondi is a musician of the truest stamp. The pieces he writes for his two favorite instruments have the genuine ring in them. They are not merely successions of notes "ad libitum", but are real music, the offspring of a truly elegant and cultured mind. The nocturne before us, dedicated to Madame Arabella Goddard - "avec permission" (as if she could possibly have declined so graceful a compliment from one who in complimenting confers an honor) - is a highly finished and attractive piece. How Signor Regondi playes the Nocturne himself upon the instrument for which is was expressively composed, it would be superfluous to say - just as superfluous as to say that he plays it in a manner which no one else, under any circumstances, could hope to rival. In its present shape, as carefully and effectively "transcribed" for the pianoforte by his friend, M. Frederic D'Alquen, it is a boom for pianists who desire something combining expression with brilliancy for public performance, and who at the same time possess manual dexterity enough to master it with ease. We confess that we should like to hear it played by Madame Arabella Goddard on the pianoforte, both on Signor Regondi's account, and on her own, on Signor's account because under sympathetic fingers, it would be shown that his music can speak no less eloquently through the medium of the pianoforte than through that of the guitar and concertina, and on Madame Goddard's account, because she would then be provided with a new and legitimate means of exhibiting those qualities of feeling and mechanism which have raised her to the position she occupies as a mistress of her art."

In concluding, I would like to refer readers to two portraits of Regondi reproduced in my April 1948 article. The top one, which shows him as a youth, was erroneously captioned "Bernhard Molique". The two portraits are both of Regondi. In some future article I will write a biography of him.

The Classical Free-Reed, Inc. staff gratefully acknowledges volunteer Benjamin Lang who assisted in the production of this article, as well as Stanley Darrow and the comprehensive American Accordion Musicological Society library.

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