Accordion company celebrates 100 years

November 16, 2010 3:30:15 PM PST
When a family business lasts a hundred years that usually means it's doing something right.

The Italo - American Accordion Company on West 95th Street opened in Chicago in 1910 by Anne Romagnoli's father and his two brothers. Their music just continues to play.

"They would make $25 to 30 a week and they had done this for thirty years," said Romagnoli, who owns the shop. "There's a lot of them out there with our name on it."

Those were the days when Italo American had 75 employees and the accordion was one of America's most popular instruments. It's still somewhat popular thanks to musicians like Jerry Cigler, but back in the 1950s and 60s something happened.

"Well, the guitar came in to being. The Beatles came and they changed the whole system of music. The kids liked that type of music. The guitar," said Romagnoli.

Italo-American doesn't make accordions at the building anymore. They are made in Italy. But they do repair the broken instruments from all over the country across the decades. Sometimes it's hard to find parts, so they have an accordion graveyard-- shelves and shelves of old broken down stomach Steinways.

"Old accordions and I take parts from them," said Pompilio Rosciani, accordion technician. "I can fix anything no matter how old."

There is new life in the old business.

"The accordion is not now geared towards one ethnic group. We have a variety of accordions and we are able to cater to different ethnic groups," said Nikki Hernandez, great granddaughter of founder. So at Italo American the music is scheduled to play on and on for another hundred years.


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