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Ms Mary Baker with Concertina, c. 1857


Ms Mary Baker with Concertina, c. 1857


The PICTURE GALLERY for this issue features a photograph—after a daguerreotype from the London studio of Antoine Claudet, c. 1857—of Ms Mary Baker (d. 1882), nicknamed ‘Min’, holding an English concertina, probably a Wheatstone (see picture).

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Mary ‘Min’ Baker (d. 1882), as shown in a photograph after a daguerreotype
by Antoine Claudet, c. 1857; reproduced courtesy of the Rev. Ian Graham

Mary was one of seven children born to a well-to-do family of merchants with extensive sugar holdings in Jamaica and Mauritius. In 1855, Mary, still unwed (she eventually married into a family named Cawsten), became the surrogate mother to the children of her widowed brother Samuel White Baker (1821-1893), who, after his wife passed away that year, sought solace in hunting and travel. In fact, Sam Baker became well known as a big-game hunter and explorer, and together with his second wife, Florence Szasz (von Sass), set out to search for the source of the Nile and eventually discovered Lake Albert (named after Prince Albert) in 1864 (for which he was knighted in 1866).1

What is particularly interesting about the photo of Mary and her concertina is that we may be able to identify the instrument she is holding and when she bought it. As Allan Atlas has suggested, Mary may well be the Miss Baker who purchased Wheatstone no. 6628 for twelve guineas on 31 October 1854, and later treated herself to two more concertinas: on 3 December 1858, when she borrowed Wheatstone 10663, and 27 August 1859, when she paid £2.0.0 for Wheatstone 9981.2

Finally, Mary might not have been the only member of the family who played the concertina, as the Wheatstone sales ledgers also record transactions for a Mrs and Mr Baker, with the latter having purchased his concertina on 23 August 1859, just four days prior to Ms Baker’s final transaction.


1. I tell the story of the Bakers’ exploration in To the Heart of the Nile: Lady Florence Baker and the Exploration of Central Africa (New York: William Morris, 2004).
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2. See his ‘Ladies in the Wheatstone Ledgers: The Gendered Concertina in Victorian England, 1835-1870’, forthcoming in the Royal Musical Association Research Chronicle, 39 (2006). The three transactions are recorded in the Wheatstone sales ledgers: 31 October 1854 in C1049, p. 29; 3 December 1858 in C1051, p. 54; and 27 August 1859 in C1051, p. 85. The ledgers are housed at the Horniman Museum, London, Wayne Archive, and appear online at
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Two Salvation Army Concertina Bands


Two Salvation Army Concertina Bands

Introductory Note by CHRIS ALGAR

Founded as a Mission in 1865 (its name was changed to the present one in 1878), the Salvation Army began as a movement to work amongst the poor in order to help alleviate their hardship. No doubt, the concertina was adopted early in the movement’s history because it was portable and thus suitable for the outdoor meetings that, in the early days, made up the bulk of the Army’s services. Our two photos of Salvation Army Concertina Bands illustrate the change that took place in their make-up during the early twentieth century.

As the photo of the Norwich Citadel Band (1907) makes clear (see Figure 1), the concertina of choice, at least early on, was the Anglo, perhaps because it had the advantage of being the least expensive of the concertinas, and thus the one most likely to be found in the hands of the people to which the Army ministered. The photo shows a band made up of twenty-one Anglos, at least three of which are Jeffries/Crabb-type instruments; in addition, there are a number of twenty-six-button Anglos, which, from the evidence of their gold tooling, might also be of the Jeffries/Crabb type.

Fig.1 The Norwich Citadel Band (1907)

In contrast, the Sergeants’ International Training College Band of 1931 (see Figure 2) had nine concertinas (alongside the brass instruments that were beginning to replace them). Here there are at least five English concertinas—including an Aeola and an instrument recognizable as having been made by George Case—and at least two Triumph Duets. There is not a trace of an Anglo.

The Sergeants International Training College (1931)

This change in instrumentation appears to have taken place around the end of World War I. Prior to that time, it seems that the Anglo was the concertina of choice, only to be supplanted by war’s end by the English and the Duet. I suspect that the reason had to do with versatility: both English and Duet are completely chromatic, with the former being available in models whose ranges extended from bass to piccolo.

Finally, I recently bought a Lachenal amboyna Edeophone from an Army contact: appropriately, it had been painted black!

Barbara Bartell and her Golden Edeophone


Barbara Bartell and her Golden Edeophone

Introductory Note by CHRIS ALGAR

Our picture gallery features a publicity photo of Barbara Bartell (see Fig. 1), a 1920s-30s ‘variety artiste’ whom I met in the early 1980s when, well along in years, she was living in a Brixton (London) flat.

I was introduced to Barbara by her former theatrical agent after I had appeared on television, talking about concertinas. Barbara wanted to sell her two instruments, so I went to London to see her, and learned a good deal in the process.

Barbara was one of two daughters of Mr Stephen Bartle (she adopted ‘Bartell’ as her stage name), who, she told me, had been the ‘World Concertina Champion’ prior to Alexander Prince. When Barbara and her sister were of an age to perform (six or seven), they were taught the concertina, and, with their parents, formed the Royal Bartle Quartet (a performance before the royal family contributed to the name), which made a reputation for itself in the music halls. Barbara, of course, became an outstanding entertainer in her own right, playing concertina and musical glasses. She also did a lot of pantomime, usually as the principal boy (that is, the role of the juvenile male, customarily played by a young lady).

Both of the Bartle sisters played custom-built Lachenal Edeophones, which were made for them under special circumstances: while the Bartles paid for the parts, Lachenal provided the labour free of charge as a tribute to their father. The instruments were dazzling: amboyna casing, brown bellows, all finished off with gold-plated ends, buttons, and fittings.

I bought Barbara’s concertina, along with a miniature soprano that belonged to her father. (Her sister’s Edeophone was eventually purchased by one of the Richardson Brothers of Boys of the Lough fame.) And though I kept the instrument for some years, I eventually passed it on to a wonderful young musician in the Lake District who still plays it.

Looking back at the visit, I now have one regret. Though Barbara offered me a trunk-full of musical memorabilia—posters, programs, photographs, etc.—I politely turned down the offer down since I had no way of taking the materials with me. I guess they are now lost forever. I hope, though, that this little Picture Gallery feature will go some way in restoring the names of both Barbara Bartell and her father, who, though rarely mentioned nowadays, were once among the finest players of their generations.

POSTSCRIPT: My good friend Richard Harrison of Ferrybridge, Yorkshire, a concertinist and collector of 78-rpm concertina recordings, has a rare copy of Stephen Bartle playing ‘Hornpipe Medley/Under the Freedom Flag’ on a World War I-vintage recording issued on the Olympic label (No. 173). It features Bartle on English concertina with piano accompaniment; and, as Richard says, the playing is ‘brilliant’, even more engaging than that on the many 78s that he has of Alexander Prince.

View or Download the PDF format file for this page

Enlarged: 2360*3490, 1.2 MB

Fig. 1. Barbara Bartell and her golden Edeophone as shown in a publicity photo from the 1930s (courtesy of Chris Algar, Barleycorn Concertinas).

Concertinas in The Times, 1860


Concertinas in The Times, 1860


In my research for a forthcoming article, ‘Ladies in the Wheatstone Ledgers: The Gendered Concertina in Victorian England, 1835-1870’,1 I had occasion to sift through the pages of three years worth of The Times (1845, 1855, and 1860) in search of references to the concertina.2 I was not disappointed: notices about the concertina abound, and they contribute powerfully toward the history—the social history in particular—of the instrument in mid-Victorian England.

What follows are seven notices—with brief comments—from the pages of The Times for 1860.

* * * * * * * *

20 April (p. 3): AN AMATEUR is desirous of joining a select MUSICAL PARTY for mutual improvement in concerted music, either instrumental or mixed. Plays the bass concertina, and would take either the bassoon or alto part. Address, with full particulars, to Basso, Stanesby’s Library, Sloane-street, Chelsea.

By ‘alto part’ the writer refers to the viola, and thus attests to the practice of concertinists—both professional and amateur—to form ensembles in which they availed themselves of the string quartet literature. The opportunity to delve into this repertory was especially welcome among women, since string instruments were more or less off limits to them until the final quarter of the century.3

20 April (p. 3): MRS. ARTHUR STONE begs to announce she continues to give LESSONS in SINGING, and on the guitar and concertina—169, Great Portland-street, Portland-place, W.

Mrs Stone is listed as a Professor of Music in the Musical Directory, Register and Almanack for 1855 (p. 70), at which time she resided at 18 Great Portland Street. A frequent visitor to Wheatstone’s shop on Conduit Street—the Wheatstone sales ledgers record nine transactions for her from the late 1840s to 1859—she was one of twelve concertinists who participated together with Richard Blagrove and George Case at a mammoth concertina concert—it featured an ensemble of twelve concertinas—in June 1848. Finally, she is but one of a number of women who played and taught both concertina and guitar.4

19 June (p. 5): GERMAN and ENGLISH CONCERTINA MUSIC:— Regondi’s 200 sacred airs, 1s., and his 200 miscellaneous airs, 1s, for the German concertina; or both works, bound in one vol., cloth, gilt edges, 3s.; Regondi’s celebrated Hand-book, a complete tutor or the German concertina, with 60 melodies (100th edition), 1s.; Regondi’s German Concertina Melodist, in 18 Nos. (30 airs in each), 6d. each; Sedgwick’s 200 airs for the English concertina, 1s.; upwards of 100 books, 1s. each, of vocal and instrumental music. Published only at the Musical Bouquet office, 192, High Holborn.

23 June (p. 1): NOTICE.—Signor GIULIO REGONDI has never Composed or arranged any music for an instrument so called the German concertina.

This is fascinating! Regondi adamantly denies having anything to do with the German concertina (‘Anglo-German’) tutors and song collections that the firm of Charles Sheard was issuing under his name. Clearly, Sheard was cashing in on Regondi’s fame.5

13 July (p. 3): SHELLS of OCEAN, the beautiful Fantasia by [William] Abbot, 3s.; 88th edition of the song, 2s.6d.; two voices, 2s.6d.; glee, 2s.6d.; guitar, 1s.6d.; concertina and piano, 2s; piano duet, 3s.—Holloway, publisher, Hanwaystreet, Oxford-street, W., where may be had all the best music at half-price.

This advertisement attests to the common practice of arranging hit songs for myriad instruments and ensembles. The original song, ‘I Wandered on the Sea-Beat Shore, or The Shells of the Ocean’, was written by Cherry and Lake and published by Holloway & Co. in 1855. William Abbott’s ‘Fantasia’ was one of a number of arrangements for piano.6 I do not know who arranged the song for concertina.

26 July (p. 4): EDUCATION (superior) for YOUNG LADIES: inclusive terms 40 guineas a year.—In old-established finishing school, of high standing, conducted by a lady of talent, assisted by English and foreign governesses and eminent masters daily for all the accomplishments. The instruction comprehends all the higher branches of English, modern languagues, piano, singing, concertina, guitar, drawing, dancing, and calisthenics. The domestic arrangements are on a most liberal scale. The residence is a spacious mansion, delightfully situate, with extensive garden, and the locality not to be surpassed for salubrity. Address A.B., 9, Stanley-gardens, Kensington-park.

14 November (p. 3): MORNING or DAILY GOVERNESS.—A married lady, accustomed to tuition, wishes an ENGAGEMENT. She teaches piano, harp, concertina, singing, French, and Italian fluently, drawing, rudiments of German, and all other requisites To a Lady’s education.—A.B., 5, Lyndon-street, Sussex-gardens, Hyde-park.

These two notices express in quintessential fashion the Victorian notion that, for the well-bred young woman, music was a necessary ‘accomplishment’. They also show that the successful governess had to possess a background in music, with the concertina—and we are dealing with the English concertina only—taking its place alongside the piano, harp, and guitar among instruments that were considered suitable for women.7


1. To appear in the Royal Musical Association Research Chronicle, 39 (2006).
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2. For his help with the task, I am grateful to Mr Robert Wood, a candidate for the Ph.D. in Music at The Graduate Center of The City University of New York.
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3. On the gendering of string instruments, particularly the violin, see the fine survey in Paula Gillett, Musical Women in England, 1870-1914: “Encroaching on all Man’s Privileges” (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000), 77-140.
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4. On Mrs Stone, see Atlas, ‘Ladies in the Wheatstone Ledgers’, which also discusses the intersection between concertina and guitar circles, the most important female member of which was undoubtedly Catherina Josepha Pelzer, later Mrs R. Sidney Pratten. There is a review of the 1848 concert in The Musical World, xxiii/23 (3 June 1848), 3; a similar concert in May 1851, organized by Case, featured an arrangement of Rossini’s Overture to William Tell for twelve concertinas; see Atlas, The Wheatstone English Concertina in Victorian England (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), 68. The nine extant Wheatstone sales ledgers, preserved in the Wayne Archive of the Horniman Museum, London, are available online at
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5. The tutors are listed in Randall C. Merris, ‘Instruction Manuals for the English, Anglo, and Duet Concertina: An Annotated Bibliography’, The Free-Reed Journal, 4 (2002 ), 111-12; an updated version of the article appears online at
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6. There is a list of arrangements in the British Library’s Integrated Catalogue, online at
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7. See my ‘Ladies in the Wheatstone Ledgers’ for a fuller discussion of the concertina’s role.
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George Grove’s Article on the ‘Concertina’ in the First Edition of A Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1878)


George Grove’s Article on the ‘Concertina’ in the First Edition of A Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1878)

Introductory Note by ALLAN ATLAS

Published by Macmillan & Co. in four volumes over the course of eleven years—from 1878 to 1889—Sir George Grove’s A Dictionary of Music and Musicians (A.D. 1450-1889) is a landmark in English-language musical lexicography. Its main goal was, as stated in a pre-publication announcement, to correct the following situation:

There is no one work in English from which an intelligent inquirer can learn, in small compass and in untechnical language, what is meant by a Symphony or Sonata, a Fugue…or any other of the terms which necessarily occur in every description or analysis of a Concert or a piece of Music; or from which he can gain a readable and succinct account of the history of the various branches of the art, or of the rise and progress of the Pianoforte and other instruments, or the main facts and characteristics of the lives of eminent Musicians.1

As such, Grove had an agenda: to teach the public (or at least the ‘cultivated’ portion thereof) about music, specifically the ‘high-brow’ music that was then in the process of being canonized and that his readers would have heard in the concert hall and upper-class drawing rooms. And among the things that he thought worthwhile informing them about was the concertina.

What must strike the present-day concertinist immediately—and perhaps it would have been noticed even by contemporary readers of the Dictionary—is that Grove accounts for one type of concertina only: the ‘English’. Nowhere is there even an allusion to the existence of the ‘Anglo’ or the ‘Duet’, though these would certainly have been known to—if not loved and easily distinguished by—Grove’s ‘intelligent inquirer’ through their presence in such places as street corners and other venues that made up the everyday Victorian soundscape. This, of course, should not surprise us. It is simply a consequence of the English concertina’s contemporary presence in the concert hall and upper-class musical circles in general (though by the late 1870s this was already on the wane), its chamber music repertory (cited in part by Grove), and Grove’s (and thus his Dictionary’s) own prejudices and personal tastes. In other words, it was only in the form of the English that the concertina and Grove’s agenda could share common ground.2

Beyond that, Grove’s article calls for a few comments with respect to its claims about both the instrument and its repertory.

(1) Grove writes that the concertina was ‘patented by the late Sir Charles Wheatstone June 19, 1829’. Now there are two patents that are pertinent to Grove’s claim: No. 5803 of 1829, which deals mainly with the Symphonion, but which alludes to what is at least the drawing-board state of the concertina—though without referring to it by name—in its drawings of a bellows-driven instrument; and No. 10041 of 1844, which offers a full-blown description of the English concertina as it then existed. Now even if the 1844 patent is ‘the definitive concertina patent’, as Neil Wayne calls it,3 Grove was quite right in dating the original patent from 1829. For instance, when Giulio Regondi performed in Ireland in 1834-1835, The Dublin Evening Post announced his concert of 12 June 1834 as follows: ‘Master G Regondi … intends to give two Musical Entertainments on the Guitar and on Wheatstone’s Patent Concertina …’.4 Likewise, when Regondi performed at London’s Haymarket on 28 June 1837, his instrument was once again described as the ‘Patent Concertina’.5 Moreover, as Stephen Chambers has pointed out, Wheatstone’s first real competitor, Joseph Scates, set up shop as a concertina manufacturer in his own right in 1844, that is, the very year in which the patent of 1829 would have run its fourteen-year course (and to chalk that up as sheer coincidence strains creditability).6 Finally, we may clinch the case for Grove. As Wheatstone’s claimed in their price list of 1848, titled The Concertina, A New Musical Instrument …: ‘No instruments, except those manufactured by Messrs. WHEATSTONE and Co. are constructed with the improvements for which a second Patent [my italics] was obtained by them in February, 1844 …’.7

(2) Grove claims that the treble is a ‘double’action instrument (producing ‘the same note both on drawing and pressing the bellows’), while tenor (about which, more presently), bass, and double bass are ‘single’action instruments (producing ‘the sound by pressure only’). He thus uses the ‘single/double’ terminology in two different ways: first to distinguish the English treble from the Anglo, on which the buttons produce different pitches depending on the direction of the bellows, and then to identify instruments that sound only when the bellows are being pressed in. It is a confusing use of the ‘single/double’action terminology, one that persists even today.

(3) With his statement that the tenor concertina is a single-action instrument (that is, that it sounds only when the bellows are going in), Grove opens up a can of worm-like questions at which we can only hint here.8 For instance, the Lachenal price lists of 1859 and 1862 make it clear that ‘Tenor or Baritone’ concertinas are double-action instruments.9 On the other hand, the Wheatstone sales ledger C1052 (p. 35) records the following transaction for 7 November 1860: ‘Boucher [name of customer] —— SH [second hand] Single Act[ion] Tenor’,10 while Rock Chidley exhibited both single- and double-action tenors at the Great Exhibition of 1851.11 Thus tenors were available as both single- and double-action instruments.

But what was the mid-century tenor concertina? As noted above, the Lachenal price lists refer to ‘Tenor or Baritone’ (my italics), and then go on to describe ‘Tenor or Baritone’ as sounding one octave lower than the treble, in which case their lowest note would be G. If, however, they shared the same range, how did they differ from one another? To add to the confusion: the Wheatstone price list of 1848 (see note 7) states that the tenor goes down only to c (an octave beneath middle C), so that it does not reach an octave below the treble (as the Lachenal advertisements claim it does), omits any reference to the baritone altogether, and says nothing about the single- or double-action question. And to further muddy the waters: although I am acquainted with a fair amount of Victorian music for baritone concertina (by Regondi and Case, among others), as I am also with the repertory for concertina ensembles (usually calling for some combination of treble(s) and baritone, with bass thrown in on occasion), I have yet to see a piece that called for tenor concertina. On the other hand, John Hill Maccann’s The Concertinist’s Guide (1888), notes that ‘At the Inventions Exhibition Messrs. Wheatstones’ Recitals … were greatly admired, and the Quartettes … were played on the Treble, Tenor [my italics], and Bass Concertinas …’ (p. 3);12 the Lachenal sisters performed on trebles, tenor, and bass when they toured Scotland in 1865-1866;13 and William Cawdell speaks of ensembles that consisted of tenors and baritones.14 In the end, then, the term ‘tenor’ may well have been applied to more than one kind of concertina, may have varied in its meaning from one manufacturer to another, and may have changed at least some of its characteristics as the second half of the century rolled along.

(4) Much of the music cited by Grove was seemingly never published and is apparently lost. Thus we no longer have either Molique’s concerto in D (while Regondi’s E-flat concerto survives only in manuscript) or the series of pieces by Silas, while Macfarren’s Quintet, the two-movement Romance and Allegro agitato, reaches us only as a single-movement Romance for concertina and piano.15

Grove’s article on the concertina appeared in A Dictionary of Music and Musicians, vol. I/fasc. 4 (London: Macmillan, 1878), 386-87.


CONCERTINA, a portable instrument of the Seraphine family, patented by the late Sir Charles Wheatstone June 19, 1829.

It is hexagonal, and has a keyboard at each end, with expansible bellows between the two. The sound is produced by the pressure of air from the bellows on free metallic reeds. The compass of the treble concertina is four octaves [a music example shows the range extending from g to g’’’’, and thus a 56-button instrument], through which it has a complete chromatic scale. This instrument is double action, and produces the same note both on drawing and pressing the bellows. Much variety of tone can be obtained by a skilful player, and it has the power of being played with great expression and complete sostenuto and staccato. Violin, flute, and oboe music can be performed on it without alteration; but music written specially for the concertina cannot be played on any other instrument, except the organ or harmonium. Nothing but the last-named instruments can produce at once the extended harmonies, the sostenuto and staccato combined, of which the concertina is capable. There are also tenor, bass, and double bass concertinas, varying in size and shape. These instruments are single-action, producing the sound by pressure only, and are capable of taking tenor, bass, and double bass parts without alteration. The compass of these is as follows—[a music example shows the ranges of the three instruments: tenor = c – c’’’; bass = C – c’’; double bass = C’ – c’] making the total range of the four instruments 6 5/8 octaves. The late Signor Regondi was the first to make the instrument known, and was followed by Mr. George Case. Mr. Richard Blagrove is now the principal performer and professor. Among the music written specially for the instrument are 2 Concertos in G and D for solo concertina and orchestra, by Molique; 2 ditto ditto in D and Eb, by G. Regondi; Sonata for piano and concertina in Bb, by Molique; Quintet for concertina and strings, by G. A. Macfarren; Adagio for 8 concertinas in E, by E. Silas; Quintet in D for piano, concertina, violin, viola, and cello, by the same; 6 Trios for piano, concertina, and violin, by the same. Much brilliant salon music has also been written for it. Messrs. Wheatstone & Co. are the best makers. [G.]


1. ‘Preparing for Publication: the Dictionary of Music…’ (London: Macmillan, March 1874); cited after Leanne Langley, ‘Roots of a Tradition: the First Dictionary of Music and Musicians’, in George Grove, Music and Victorian Culture, ed. Michael Musgrave (London: Palgrave/Macmillan, 2003), 169; Langley’s article provides a fascinating glimpse into the Dictionary’s concept, design, editorial processes, publication, and reception. For a well-rounded portrait of the multi-talented Grove (1820-1900)—he was an engineer, biblical scholar, long-time editor of Macmillan’s Magazine, secretary of and writer of program notes for the Crystal Palace concerts, authority on the music of Beethoven, Schubert, and Mendelssohn, and first director of the Royal College of Music—see the collection of articles just cited; for a biography, see Percy Young, George Grove, 1820-1900 (London: Macmillan, 1980). Finally, the Dictionary itself went through five editions as of 1954 (with a change of name along the way to Grove’s Dictionary); in 1980 the Dictionary was totally revamped, expanded, made more global-minded, and renamed The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, which in turn has now gone through a second, revised edition of 2001; note that New Grove/2 is available online at <>, though a subscription is necessary.

2 Indeed, it was not until the Dictionary was totally overhauled in 1980 as The New Grove Dictionary (see note 1) that it began to afford proper and ample coverage to the likes of folk, popular, and non-western music traditions (as well as to the instruments with which those musics are made). Admittedly, my own article on the concertina in The New Grove/2, vi, 236-40, lavishes more space on the English than it does on the Anglo and Duet combined.

3. Wayne, ‘The Wheatstone English Concertina’, The Galpin Society Journal, xliv (1991), 120; available on line: <>.

4. Cited after Tom Lawrence, ‘Giulio Regondi and the Concertina in Ireland’, Concertina World: International Concertina Association Newsletter, 411 (July 1998), 22; available on line: <>.

5. My thanks to Alessandro Boris Amisich for calling the announcement of this performance to my attention. Mr Amisich’s article, ‘Where was Giulio Regondi Born?’, will appear in PICA, 3 (2006).

6. Chambers, ‘Louis Lachenal: “Engineer and Concertina Manufacturer”, Pt 1’, The Free-Reed Journal, 1 (1999), 13, sees the 1844 patent ‘largely [as] an attempt to prolong the life of [the] . . .original Symphonium [and concertina] Patent of 1829’ (p. 13); available online: <>; the two patents are online: <>.

7. The price list is available in Chambers, ‘Louis Lachenal’, 16-18, the passage just cited appearing on p. 17; the pricelist is available online: <>.

8. The brief discussion that follows owes much to a stimulating exchange of e-mails with Stephen Chambers, Robert Gaskins, and Chris Algar during the first days of 2005.

9. The price lists are conveniently reproduced in facsimile in Stephen Chambers, ‘ Some Notes on Lachenal Concertina Production and Serial Numbers’, PICA, 1 (2004), 5-6; the pricelists are available online: <>.

10. The entry lacks a serial number for the instrument. The ledger is housed in the Wayne Archive, The Horniman Museum, London. The complete series of nineteenth-century Wheatstone ledgers are available online: <>.

11. See Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations, 1851. Official Descriptive and Illustrated Catalogue (London, 1851), 470; for a convenient summary of all the instruments exhibited at the Exhibition, see Peter and Ann Mactaggart, Musical Instruments in the 1851 Exhibition (Welwyn [Herts]: Mac & Me, 1986).

12. Maccann’s Guide is available online: <>.

13. My thanks to Robert Gaskins for this information; Mr Gaskins is preparing his research on the sisters’ Scottish tour for publication online: <>; see also the article by Faye Debenham and Randall C. Merris in this issue of PICA.

14. Cawdell, A Short Account of the English Concertina (London: William Cawdell, 1865), 10, 15; available online: <>.

15. For further information on these pieces, see Allan W. Atlas, The Wheatstone English Concertina in Victorian England (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), 58-68; available online: <> (by subscription, though one can ‘preview’ things).

Mayhew’s ‘Concertina Player on the Steamboats’


Mayhew’s ‘Concertina Player on the Steamboats’
from London Labour and the London Poor, vol. 3 (1861)

Introductory Note by Allan W. Atlas

Although Henry Mayhew (1812-1887) will need little introduction to those familiar with Victorian London (he was a journalist, novelist, playwright, travel writer, author of moralizing books for children, one of the founding editors of Punch, and, in a sense, a proto-sociologist), perhaps a few words of background are in order about his famous London Labour and the London Poor. Published in what would be its definitive, four-volume form by Griffin, Bohn in 1861, the origins of the work go back to a series of articles—called ‘Letters’—about London’s working poor, including street musicians and entertainers, that Mayhew contributed to the Morning Chronicle from 19 October 1849 to 12 December 1850. After falling out with the publisher of the newspaper along the way over political matters, Mayhew continued the series independently, publishing new installments on a weekly basis throughout 1851-1852. Finally, after breaking off work on the project altogether—he had to flee to Germany to escape his creditors—he picked it up once again in 1856, at which time he interviewed a few other street musicians, including the young concertina player who plied his craft on the steamboats that ran up and down the Thames.

As our concertinist tells us, he is almost fifteen years old, plays an imported ‘twenty-button’ German instrument for which he paid 16s. (he has a more expensive one at home), and spends 1s. each week to keep it in good order. Though he plays primarily on the steamboats, he supplements his earnings there (he seems to average about 5s. a day over the course of the year) by playing in a ballroom—with fiddle, harp, and fife—three evenings a week, where he earns another 2s. 6d. (plus food and drink) a night. He plays entirely by ear.

The entire four-volume work has been reprinted by Dover Publications (New York, 1968), with our document appearing in vol. 3, pp. 182-85. The bibliography on Mayhew is large, with an excellent starting point being the comprehensive study by Anne Humpherys, Henry Mayhew. Twayne’s English Authors Series 396 (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1984), to which should be added the recent study by Bertrand Taithe, The Essential Mayhew: Representing and Communicating the Poor (London: Rivers Oram Press, 1996).

* * * * *

“I was always very fond of music, and if ever I heard any in the streets, I always followed it about. I’m nearly fifteen now; but I can remember when I was seven, being particularly taken with music. I had an uncle who was captain of a steamer that run to Richmond, and I was always on board with him; and they used to have a band on board. It wasn’t in particular a passage-boat, but an excursion one, and let to private parties, and a band always went along with them. I was taken along to run after orders for the steward; and when I had nothing to do, I used to go and listen to them. I learn all their tunes by heart. They mostly played dances, and very seldom any sentimental songs, unless anybody asked them. For myself, I prefer lively tunes. I don’t know much operatic music, only one or two airs; but they’re easier to play on the concertina than lively music, because it’s difficult to move the fingers very quickly. You can’t hardly play a hornpipe. It makes the arm ache before you can play it all through, and it makes such a row with the valve working the bellows up and down, that it spoils the music.”

“I had not got my instrument when I was in this steamboat. When I heard a tune, I used to whistle it. I asked my father to buy me a instrument, but he wouldn’t. I was always on the steamboat, helping uncle; and I could have had lots of time to learn music there. When they, the musicians, put the harp down in the cabin, I’d get playing on it. There was a hole in the green baize cover of the harp, and I used to put my hand in and work away at it. I learnt myself several tunes, such as the ‘Sultan Polka.’ I must have been eight years old then. I didn’t play it with both hands: I couldn’t do the bass.”

“I never had any lessons in music. I’ve done it all out of my own head. Before I had a concertina, I used to go about amusing myself with a penny tin whistle. I could play it pretty well, not to say all tunes, but all such as I knew I could play very well on it. The ‘Red, White, and Blue’ was my favourite tune.”

“I have a brother, who is younger than I am, and he, before he was ten, was put out to a master to learn the violin. Father’s a labourer, and does something of anything he can get to do; but bricklaying generally. He paid so much a quarter for having my brother Henry taught. I think it was about 16s. a quarter. It was a great expense for father at first; but afterwards, when we was hard up, Henry could always fly to the fiddle to earn a crust. Henry never took to music, not to say well. I can play more out of my own head than he can by notes. He’s a very good player now.”

“I was about getting on for twelve when father first bought me a concertina. That instrument was very fashionable then, and everybody had it nearly. I had an accordion before; but it was only a 1s. 6d. one, and I didn’t take a fancy to it somehow, although I could play a few tunes on it. I used to see boys about my own height carrying concertinas about the streets, and humming them. I always wanted one. There was a little boy I knew, he got one, and then I wanted one worse. He used to come to our house, and play all sorts of tunes, for he played very well. I like the concertina, because it’s like a full band. It’s like having the fiddle and the harp together. I used to ask this little boy to lend me his instrument, and I’d work the keys about a little, but I couldn’t do any airs.”

“I play entirely out of my own head, for I never had any lessons at all. I learn the tunes from hearing other people playing of [sic!] them. If I hear a street band, such as a fiddle and harp and cornopean playing a tune, I follow them and catch the air; and if it’s any sort of a easy tune at all, I can pick it up after them, for I never want to hear it more than twice played on an instrument.”

“At last, after bothering father a long time, he bought me a half-crown concertina. I was in bed when he brought it into my room, and he put it on the bed; when I woke up I see it. I instantly set to work, and before I had got up I had learnt ‘Pop goes the Weasel.’ I was just pleased. I was up and dressed, and playing it all day long. I never used to let anybody touch it, not even my own father hardly, for fear he should break it. I did break it once, and then I was regular dull, for fear I should lose all my tunes.”

“It took me six months before I could play it well, and then I could play a’most any tune I heard. The fingers had learnt the keys, and knew where the notes was, so that I could play in the dark. My brother could play the fiddle well, long before I could do any tunes. We used to play together duets, such as ‘A Boat, a Boat unto the Ferry.’ We never hardly went out together in the streets and play together, only once or twice, because a fiddle and a concertina don’t sound well together unless a harp’s with it, and then it’s beautiful.”

“How I came to get on the steamboats was this: father went to take a trip up to Kew one day, so I wanted to go, and he said if I could earn my fare I might go. So I thought I’d take my concertina and try. So I went, and I earned that day about 9s., all in halfpence and 4d. bits. That was only by going up to Kew and coming back again. It was on a Whitsun-Monday. Then I thought I’d do it again the next day, and I think I took about the same. Then I kept on them all together. I didn’t keep to the Kew boats, because they had got their regular musicians, and they complained to the superintendent, and he forbid me going. Then I went to the Woolwich boats, and I used to earn a heap of money, as much as 10s. every day, and I was at it all the week for the season.”

“I usen’t to pay any fare, but I got a free pass. It was mostly the crew. When I got out at the pier, I used to tell them I’d been playing, and they would let me pass. Now I know near every man that is on the river, and they let me go on any boat I like. They consider I draw customers, and amuse them during the trip. They won’t let some hardly play on board only me, because I’ve been on them such a long time—these three years. I know all the pier-masters, too, and they are all very kind to me. Sometimes, when I’m waiting for a boat to go up anywhere, I play on the piers, and I always do pretty fair.”

“In winter I go on the boats all the same, and I play down in the cabin. Some of the passengers will object to it if they are reading, and then I have to leave off, or I should put my own self in a hobble, for they would go and tell the captain; and if he wouldn’t say anything, then they would tell the superintendent. In winter and wet weather is my worst time; but even then I mostly take my 3s. In the winter time, my best time is between three o’clock and six, when the gentlemen are coming home from office; and I never hardly come out before two o’clock. In summer its good from twelve till eight o’clock. The passengers come to go to the Crystal Palace in the morning part. Those that are going out for pleasure are my best customers. In the summer I always take at the rate of about 6s. a-day. Pleasure-people mostly ask me for dancing tunes; and the gentlemen coming from business prefer song tunes. I have got a good many regular gentlemen, who always give me something when they are coming from business. There are some who give me 6d. every day I see them; but sometimes they go up by a different boat to what I’m in. There’s one always gives me 6d. whether I’m playing or not; and it’s about four o’clock or half-past that I mostly see him.”

“In winter my hands gets very cold indeed, so that I can scarcely feel the keys. Sometimes I can’t move them, and I have to leave off, and go down below and warm my hands at the cabin fire.”

“In the summer I sometimes go out with a mate of mine, who plays the piccolo. He’s very clever indeed, and plays most extraordinary. He’s a little bigger than me. He lives by playing music in the boats. We don’t play in the streets. I never played in the streets in my life. He don’t play in the winter, but works with his father, who makes hair-oil and that, and sends it out in the country. He’s a regular perfumer; and serves chandlers’ shops and that like.”

“There’s a tune we play together called the ‘Camp at Chobham.’ It begins with my doing the bugle, and he answers it on his fife. Then we do it in the distance like. Then come all the different marches the soldiers march to. Some people are so fond of it, that when they see us they come up and ask us to give it them. It takes a good quarter of an hour to play it. When I’m with him, I earn about the same as when I’m alone; but I like to go with him because it’s company.”

“One of the songs I play is, ‘Mother, is the battle over?’ That’s lately come out. It is a lady’s song, and they generally ask me for it. They also ask me for the Varsovienne. At the present time, the girls mostly ask me for ‘Polly, won’t you try me, oh!’ Sometimes I forget the tunes; they go right out of my head, and then, perhaps, a month afterwards they’ll come back again. Perhaps I’ll be fingering the keys, and I’ll accidental do the beginning of the air I’d forgot, and then I remember it all of a sudden the same as before. Then I feel quite glad that I’ve got it back again, and I’ll keep on playing it for a long time.”

“When once I begin to play, I can scarcely leave off. I used at first to play as I went along the streets, but now I feel too tired to do it. If I haven’t been out in the boats, I must have a play just the same. I like it very much. I don’t like any of the other instruments, now I’ve learnt this one so well. The fiddle is pretty good, but nothing, to my fancy, like the concertina.”

“The concertina I use now cost me 16s. It’s got twenty double keys—one when I pull the bellows out and one when I close it. I wear out an instrument in three months. The edges of the bellows get worn out: then I have to patch them up, till they get so weak that it mostly doubles over. It costs me about 1s. a-week to have them kept in order. They get out of tune very soon. They file them, and put fresh notes in. I get all my repairs done trade price. I tune my instrument myself. The old instruments I sell to the boys, for about as much as I give for a new one. They are very dear; but I get them so cheap when I buy them, I only give 16s. for a 25s. instrument.”

“I’ve got a beautiful instrument at home, and I give a pound for it, and it’s worth two. Those I buy come from Germany, where they make them, and then they are took to this warehouse, where I buy them.”

“Once I was turned off the penny steamboats. There was such a lot of musicians come on board, and they got so cheeky, that when they was told not to play they would, just the same, and so a stop was put to all music on board. If one was stopped all must be stopped, so I was told not to go. I still had my fourpenny boats. I never used to go on the penny boats hardly, for I never used to get much money in them. Now I am allowed to go on them just the same as before.”

“I can’t say how often I’ve been up the Thames. I never go as far as Chelsea hardly, only about twice a-day, for most of the people get out between London-bridge and Nine-elms. My general run is down to Hungerford and back to Blackfriars; and I do that about fifty times a-day.”

“I never go out on the Sunday. I mostly go to a Sunday-school, and then take a walk. Father wants me to be a scholar; I can read and write. I’m a teacher at the Sunday-school, and make the children read their lessons. I know multiplication, and addition, and all them. I go to school every night at half-past six and come home at nine. Father makes me and my brother go to school every day, and we pay 1s. each a-week. It’s a very good school, and the master is very kind. There are about 30 night scholars and 50 day ones, besides about 20 girls. His daughter teaches the girls.”

“At night when I leave school I go and play music three nights a-week at a ball. My brother goes with me. We go to a place in the Westminster-road on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. It’s a very nice ball-room, and there are generally about 200 there. They pay 1s. each. There are four musicians, a fiddle, a harp, a fife, and a concertina. It isn’t a Casino; it’s an assembly-rooms. We teaches on three nights in the week, and the pupils assemble and practice on the other nights.”

“The room is like a street almost, and the music sounds well in it. The other three play from notes, and I join in. I learnt their airs this way. My mother and father were very fond of dancing, and they used to go there nearly every night, and I’d go along with them, and then I’d listen and learn the tunes. My brother regularly played there. He was about ten years old when he first went to play there; but he could play any music that was put before him. In the daytime he blows the bellows at a blacksmith and engineer’s. The first time I played in a orchestra I felt a little strange. I had been to rehearsal. I went twenty times before I was confident enough to appear at night. I could play the tunes well enough, but I didn’t know when to leave off at the exact time they did. At last I learnt how to do it. I don’t have any stand before me. I never look at any of the others’ music. I look at the dancing. You’ve got to look at the time they’re dancing at, and watch their figures when they leave off. The proprietor knew father, and that’s how I came to have the job. I get 2s. 6d. a-night for playing there, and plenty to eat and drink. There’s bread and cheese and a drop of beer. On the other three nights when I’m not at the ball I stop at home, and get a bit of rest. Father sends us to bed early, about half-past nine, when I come home from school. On ball-nights I’m sometimes up to two o’clock in the morning. ”

“I take all the money I earn home to father, and he gives me a few halfpence for myself. All the year round it comes to 5s. a-day. I buy my own food when I’m out on the boats. I go to a cookshop. I like pudding or pie better than anything, and next to that I like a bit of bread and butter as well as anything, except pie. I have meat or veal pies. They charge you 6d. a-plate, and you have potatoes and all. After that I have a couple of pen’orth of pudding with sugar. I drink water. My dinner comes to about 9d. a-day, for I generally have a pen’orth of apples as dessert. It makes you very hungry going about in the steam-boats—very much so.”

“I’m the only boy that goes about the steam-boats with a concertina; indeed, I’m the only boy above-bridge that goes about with music at all on the boats. I know the old gentleman who plays the harp at the Essex pier. I often go and join in with him when I land there, and we go shares. He mostly plays there of a morning, and we mostly of an afternoon. We two are the only ones that play on the piers.”

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Henry Mayhew

A Note on Salvation Army Concertina Bands

In his contribution to the ‘Picture Gallery’ in PICA 2 (2005), Chris Algar gave a clear account of the transition that took place with respect to the concertina types used by The Salvation Army.1 Both historical circumstances and documentary evidence confirm that instruments of the Jeffries/Anglo type gave way to English and Triumph (Crane) systems during the first two decades of the twentieth century.

The five-row system adopted by the Liverpool music dealer Crane & Sons—and subsequently manufactured for them by Lachenal—was not patented by John Butterworth until 1896.2 Thus any adoption of this system, and the change of name to Triumph by The Salvation Army, had to occur after that date. As for the introduction of the English fingering system: though early paintings and engravings clearly show Jeffries/Anglo types,3 and though Salvation Army advertisements from the turn of the century still give prominence to the Anglo-German concertina, the 1904 edition of the Army’s Concertina Tutor, whilst still being primarily for the Anglo-German instrument, contained ‘a Supplementary Part. . .giving a complete course of Instruction for the English Concertina’ (see Fig. 1).4

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Fig. 1. An Advertisement for the 1904 edition of the Salvation Army’s Concertina Tutor in The Salvationist, 18/Pt. 12 (June 1904), outside rear cover.
(Click to enlarge)

Thus from a starting point set early in the twentieth century, the adoption of the Crane and English systems was, as Algar points out, accomplished by the end of World War I, in a matter of less than twenty years. The evidence for this is compelling. In addition to photographs, there are numerous personal accounts. For instance, Bramwell Thornett recounts purchasing a Triumph model, with thirty-five bone keys and rosewood ends, in 1920 for a little over £5.5 He had been inspired at the time by Brigadier Archie Burgess, himself a master of the Triumph (Crane) duet.6 Although Thornett chose the same model as his teacher (Burgess), he notes that his parents ‘played a Jeffrey’s [sic] model tuned to B flat for band use in earlier days’.7 Ernest Ripley records purchasing his Triumph concertina on 2 May 1932 for £14.15, obtaining it from the ‘S.P.& S.’, the Salvationist Publishing and Supplies retail centre, as a used instrument ‘guaranteed in perfect condition’, and, by strange coincidence, ‘used by Major Burgess in Staff Band programmes as a solo instrument’.8

By the 1930s, then, the Triumph (Crane) and English systems were clearly the Army’s instruments of choice, a conclusion reinforced by the definitive tutors that they issued for those instruments at the time.9 Significantly, there is nothing for—or even a reference to—the Anglo system.

With a nostalgic look to the past, Norman Armistead would comment: ‘It seems to me that The Salvation Army ethos—musically speaking—is best represented by the humble concertina’.10 This versatile instrument—Crane and English—now came to play three roles, as concertina bands were formed in many places throughout the United Kingdom—Bristol, Plymouth, Doncaster, Harlesden and Norwich, to mention but a few. The concertina became invaluable as a solo instrument, adding worthy variation to any musical programme, and was considered by many to be indispensable as an accompaniment to voices, particularly when used in the Army’s open-air evangelical meetings. Some players became very efficient, so that Alf Lockyer was known to both lead and accompany a choir as he played directly from the four-part S-A-T-B vocal arrangement. Bramwell Thornett admits to having an instrument to his own specifications, dropping some of the duplicated keys and reeds on the left hand side and substituting bass notes, thus extending the instrument without adding to its weight.11 And if Frank Butler deprecated this practice, regretting that concertina makers were always prepared to build exceptional instruments,12 Neil Wayne takes a rather more philosophical view of such idiosyncratic systems: ‘Wheatstones would have made anything, however bizarre!’ 13

In all, the evidence for the change from the Anglo system to the Crane and English systems is undeniable. Moreover, the shift coincides precisely with what was happening among the ‘secular’ concertina prize bands of the same period. As Nigel Pickles points out, the Mexborough English Concertina Prize Band was formed in 1897 as an Anglo concertina band, but quickly changed to the more flexible English concertina prior to winning a competition at Woodkirk in 1903.14 Likewise, having excelled at the Crystal Palace competition of 1909, the members of the Heckmondwike English Concertina Premier Prize Band were pleased to pose with their instruments, their English-system layout clear for all to see.15 Finally, a 1913 photograph of the New Bedford (Massachusetts) Concertina Band shows that, while English-system instruments still formed a minority, they were taking their place among the Anglos.16

Whilst Chris Algar’s conclusions in the ‘Picture Gallery’ regarding the date of the change in instrument types are well substantiated, his juxtaposition of the two photographs is somewhat unfortunate. The Norwich Citadel photograph (page 66) is correctly referred to as their Concertina Band, but the second photograph (page 67) requires further comment. The caption to the photograph is correct, stating that the subjects are the Sergeants at the International Training College in 1931. However, the text inadvertently refers to them as ‘the Sergeants’ International Training College Band of 1931’. The photograph was taken on the entrance steps to The Salvation Army International Training College,17 opened just two years earlier, as a memorial to their founder, William Booth, for the purpose of training its officers, that is, its Ministers. The Sergeants were the ‘elite’, chosen from the Cadets of the previous session to act as junior staff over the next incoming group of Cadets. Typical of the photographs of that period—these were frequently taken by Robert M. Barr Photographers of Denmark Hill, who seemed to have the contract for several decades—it shows the male Sergeants assembled prior to their evangelical campaign, which usually lasted around ten days. It is very doubtful that the brass instruments would have combined with the concertinas to form a single musical ensemble. Rather, the brass would have been used to present instrumental solos or duets during the various meetings that the Sergeants would have held.

We may even doubt whether all nine of the concertinas ever played as a single group. There are two reasons for asserting this. First, it was not unusual, on occasions such as these, for the sergeants to present a somewhat inspirational picture that typified their evangelical zeal. Yes, they certainly possessed concertinas. Yes, they are likely to have had concertina lessons as part of their optional curriculum. But whether they could all yet play to a sufficient standard to form a coherent group is quite another matter.

A 1950s snapshot in my possession upholds this assumption. It shows nine Cadets with three concertinas, two accordions, a guitar, banjo, and flute; the flute, however, was the only instrument ever seen out on Campaign. Other records from the 1930s confirm this. A formal photograph of twelve Cadets actually on Campaign at Bletchley in 1931 shows two concertinas, which would have been used to accompany singing, to attract a crowd, and even to ‘drown out’ unwanted disturbances (see Figure 2). Another photo from that year shows a Brigade of eighteen at the Training College with but one concertina and a guitar, whilst a group photo from 1932 shows ten Cadets, but only the Officer with a concertina in hand.

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Fig. 2. Party of Officer Cadets on evangelical campaign in Bletchley,
Buckinghamshire, 1931. The author’s mother is seated front left
(photo in author’s collection).
(Click to enlarge)

When comparing these photographs with the group of Sergeants in the ‘Picture Gallery’, then, it is necessary to bear in mind that the Sergeants were selected for their all-round proficiency, so that we might expect to see a higher proportion of concertina players amongst their number, but not necessarily to the extent suggested by their photograph.


1. The feature was entitled ‘Two Salvation Army Bands’, 65-68.
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2. Butterworth’s patent is available online at For a brief discussion, see Phil Inglis, ‘The History of the Duet Concertina’, Pt.3, Concertina Magazine (1985), 11-12, who notes that although the Crabb family claims to have invented the system in the 1880s, they neither patented nor made any such instruments at that time; Inglis’s article is available online at
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3. See, for example, William Strang’s 1889 painting of a Salvation Army march (through typical London East End, Docklands surroundings) headed by concertina and tambourine; and E. Borough Johnson’s 1891 engraving of a Salvation Army prayer meeting, the leaders of which have a concertina and violin. Painting and engraving are reproduced in Cyril Barnes, God’s Army (Oxford: Lion Publishing, 1978), 27 and 31, respectively.
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4. The advertisement appeared in The Musical Salvationist, 18/Pt. 12 (June 1904), outside rear cover; published for the The Salvation Army Page 32, Pica 3 2006 Publishing Department by W.L. Simpson, London. On the various editions of the tutor, see Randall C. Merris, ‘Instruction Manuals for the English, Anglo, and Duet Concertina: An Annotated Bibliography’, The Free-Reed Journal, 4 (2000), 98, 105; also online at
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5. Bramwell Thornett, ‘Why I Play the Concertina’, The Musician (2 March 1985), 136.
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6. Brigadier Archie Burgess was an accomplished player, and often provided a concertina solo item on the programmes of the Army’s International Staff Band. Though rare, his recordings on the Regal Zonophone label are still to be found in some private collections.
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7. Thornett, ‘Why I Play the Concertina’, 136.
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8. Ernest Ripley, ‘Fourteen Pounds Fifteen Well Spent!’, The Salvationist (10 June 4000), 24.
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9. Arthur Bristow, The Salvation Army Tutor for the Triumph Concertina, new and rev. ed. S.A., 102 (London: Salvation Army Publishing and Supplies, 1935), and The Salvation Army Tutor for the English Concertina, new and rev. ed., S.A. 103 (London, Salvation Army Publishing and Supplies, 1935). On the tutors, see Merris, ‘Instruction Manuals’, 98, 117.
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10. Norman Armistead, ‘Symbol of an Authentic Army Spirit”, The Salvationist (21 January 1989), 3
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11. Kurt Braun notes that Harry Crabb’s Crane system was designed so that the left- hand side extended to F (below the bass clef) and had a key to sound the low C (two octaves below middle c’); see
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12. Frank Butler, The Concertina (New York, Oak Publishing, 1976), 4
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13. Neil Wayne ‘Wheatstone’s 12-sided Duet: A Report on its Origin, Condition and Provenance’, online at; for a far more detailed discussion of this instrument, see Neil Wayne, Margaret Birley, and Robert Gaskins, ‘A Wheatstone Twelve-Sided “Edeophone” Concertina with Pre-MacCann Chromatic Duet Fingering’, The Free-Reed Journal, 3 (1999), 3-16; also online at www.concertina. com/wheatstone-edeophone.
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14. Nigel Pickles, liner notes to recording The Mexborough English Concertina Prize Band, Plant Life Records PLR 055 (1983), 3.
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15. See the centrefold illustration in Concertina & Squeezebox, 23 (Summer 1990).
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16. The photo is online at
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17. Situated on Denmark Hill, South London, and overlooking Kings College Hospital.
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Giulio Regondi at Oxford

In Fall 2005, Allan Atlas approached me with a gleam in his eye (discerned at some distance—in fact, via e-mail) with a request that I write a short piece on ‘Regondi at Oxford’. To aid me in this, he supplied an extensive bibliography of Regondi—but, he added, ‘none of these items mentions Regondi at Oxford’. As I had mentioned the subject myself in a recent publication,1 I was evidently deemed a suitable candidate for the task. What follows constitutes, of course, merely a footnote to history, but I hope not an uninteresting one. It is in that spirit that I offer it.2

I have, then, previously (though all too briefly) documented Regondi at Oxford in the 1850s, and a more detailed consideration of this activity will form the nub of the discussion here. It might reasonably seem that the fashion for the concertina in Oxford was synonymous with Regondi’s appearances in the city. As so often happens, however, upon further investigation a precedent becomes apparent. In March 1843 a local newspaper advertisement announced Mr John P. Barratt’s ‘Grand Vocal and Instrumental Concert’, scheduled to take place on Tuesday, 21 March, in the Town Hall, Oxford, ‘for which he has been fortunate enough to procure the assistance of the following Artistes’: it then lists among the ‘vocalists’ Mr [John] Braham (in first place), and heading the instrumentalists ‘Herr Koenig (cornet à pistons)’, followed by ‘Mr Julian Adams (Concertina)’.3

John Braham was clearly the principal attraction on this occasion. The Journal subsequently noted that a ‘numerous audience’ had assembled early to witness the return of ‘the veteran Braham’.4 The critic was enthusiastic in praise of the performances, both vocal and instrumental: ‘Of the instrumental performers, we cannot but speak in very high terms. . .’; the violin solo, he reported, was exquisite, ‘and so were Koenig’s on the cornet à pistons and Julian Adams’s on that admired instrument the concertina’.5

This early sighting of the concertina as a recital instrument in Oxford is, as far as I am aware, the only such occurrence before the 1850s and the arrival of Regondi on the scene. It would seem that the inclusion of the concertina in a list of the multifarious musical instruments owned (or hired) and practised by members of the university, published in 1856, reflects primarily the influence of Regondi’s performances in Oxford.6 It is also, of course, possible that Regondi was invited to perform in Oxford in the first instance as a result of an already growing interest in the concertina locally. However, other factors enter into the question, and before surveying his Oxford concerts, a glance at the nature of concert life in the city will be in order here.

It is only relatively recently that the focus in studies of music in England from the eighteenth century onwards has shifted significantly away from a London-centred approach, towards the provinces. Oxford is a special case, as a leading university city—one of the most ancient in the kingdom— Pica 3 2006 , Page 21 with a long and notable musical tradition, marked in that period by the distinction of having hosted the visits of Handel and Haydn, in 1733 and 1791, respectively. Important as they are, these two high points in Oxford’s musical life, copiously documented in the primary sources and the secondary literature, could all too easily obscure the continuity and extent of music’s cultivation in Oxford throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and beyond.

Another possibly distorting effect arises from the way in which the story has been told. It is to the work of the Revd John H. Mee, himself something of a legend in Oxford, that we owe the establishing of Oxford’s concert life as a topic of historical record, and the creation of the legendary reputation attached to the Holywell Music Room (opened 1748) as the first purpose-built concert hall in Europe.7 As I have observed elsewhere, Mee ‘constructed his Holywell history distinctly in terms of past glories and their coming to an end’.8 His two concluding chapters are entitled ‘Suspension of the Concerts’ and ‘The End of the Music Room’:

The third period in the history of the Music Room is a gloomy one … at last the enterprise, so vigorously started in 1748, and so sturdily maintained even during the greatest political and military struggle that ever engaged the energies of the English nation, comes to an inglorious end in 1840.

And his agenda at this point was clearly set out: ‘Our immediate task is to trace the progress of decay’.9

The demise of the celebrated subscription concerts run by the Musical Society at the Holywell for the remarkable period of nearly one hundred years in fact marked the beginning of a new phase in Oxford concert life from the 1840s onwards. The Musical Society, governed by a Committee, and almost exclusively using the Holywell Music Room as its concert venue, was now replaced by a number of individual entrepreneurs putting on performances in a variety of locations. This change gave a boost to the city’s concert life, and brought Giulio Regondi to Oxford in the midcentury.10 The stewards of the Musical Society had been keen ‘talentspotters’, booking the leading performers from London and abroad to appear as guest soloists in Oxford. Their successors as concert organizers in the city continued to be energetic in this regard. During the 1840s, invited soloists included Jenny Lind, Clara Novello, John Braham, Sigismund Thalberg, Madame Louise Dulcken (‘Pianist to the Queen’),11 Camillo Sivori (violin), and the Messrs Distin on ‘sax horns’.

Among those who launched their own concert series at this time were members of the Marshall family, a local musical dynasty. William Marshall senior had been leader of the Holywell Band, the resident orchestra for the subscription concerts, for more than forty years beginning in 1801. His sons William and Edward appeared regularly in concerts in the middle decades of the century, performing on violin and flute, respectively. The family collectively took a prominent role in Oxford’s musical life for at least half a century. William Marshall junior had made his Oxford debut on the violin, playing a duo with his father in 1815 at the age of about nine; he was Page 22, Pica 3 2006 also a singer, organist, and pianist, and was appointed Organist of Christ Church, Oxford (and simultaneously of St John’s College), in 1825, a post he held until 1846.12

Perhaps through the Marshall family’s London connections (William junior had trained as a chorister at the Chapel Royal), Regondi seems to have been adopted into their musical circle in Oxford, contributing to a number of their concerts in the early 1850s. (Another possibility is that members of Regondi’s own London network provided an introduction for him to Oxford’s concert platforms.) Even more inviting is the notion that members of the Marshall family were themselves concertinists, as the Wheatstone sales ledger C1046 records a transaction for a Mr W.P. Marshall on 12 May 1842 and another for a Mr. E. Marshall on 21 November 1840.13 In any event, Regondi’s first appearance in Oxford can be documented as having taken place in one of Edward Marshall’s concerts, held at the Star Assembly Room on 22 April 1850.14 The list of performers (advertised as ‘the following eminent Professors’) was headed, as was customary, by the vocalists, namely Mrs Alban Croft (‘late mezzo-soprano of the Royal English Opera, Drury Lane’) and Mr Sims Reeves (‘principal tenor of Her Majesty’s Theatre’), with Mr Alban Croft (baritone, also late of Drury Lane) in third place. Listed among the instrumentalists, after ‘Herr Ernst, (The eminent German Violinist)’—it was his first appearance in Oxford—was ‘Signor Giulio Regondi (Concertina and Guitar)’, followed by Mr Hamilton (pianoforte) and Mr Edward Marshall (flute). Mr Hamilton was billed as conductor on this occasion.

The concert was evidently a ‘high-profile’ event, with tickets advertised as on sale through a specialist agency, Russell’s of High Street, as well as through the usual outlets (which included individuals’ houses). There was to be a limited number of reserved seats, and patrons were advised to book early. The event was reported in the following week’s issue of the Journal as ‘well attended’, but not all aspects of the evening’s programme had proceeded smoothly as planned:

Previously to its commencement, however, handbills were circulated in the room, announcing that in consequence of a severe accident to Mrs. Alban Croft, that lady could not appear. . .[and so] the other performers had kindly consented to play or sing more than was specified.

Regondi, then, may perhaps have contributed more than he had bargained for. Both audience and critical reception were again enthusiastic: Sims Reeves was well received with his ‘Death of Nelson’, while Ernst (billed as a ‘pupil of Paganini’) scored a hit with his ‘“Carnival of Venice,” in which he introduced several new movements’, which were ‘perfectly marvellous’ and attracted hearty applause. ‘Giulio Regondi played an exquisite solo on the concertina, and another on the guitar, in both of which he met with well-merited applause’.15

That the association between Regondi and the Marshalls continued to develop is attested by the advertisement for Marshall senior’s benefit concert later that year:

Mr. Marshall, who has had the honour of leading the Concerts in the University of Oxford for the last 50 years, with great respect informs the Nobility and Gentry of the University and City, and his friends, that a Concert for his benefit will be given at the Star Assembly Rooms, on Monday the 11th of November, for which the following vocal performers are engaged:—Miss Messent, Miss Taylor [both from the Royal Academy of Music, London], Mr. Whitehouse (from the Chapel Royal, Windsor) and Mr. G. Marshall. Solo performers: Flute: Mr. E. Marshall; Concertina: Signor Giulio Regondi.16

The leader was Mr Marshall, assisted by Mr Reinagle, Mr Sharp, and the members of the Oxford Choral Society, who had ‘kindly given their services on this occasion’. The conductor was Dr Stephen Elvey, organist of New College and a respected figure in the University. Regondi was thus brought into contact with many of the leading lights on the Oxford musical scene, and they with him. The Journal reported that Marshall’s ‘friends and patrons’ had rallied round him, and singled out for praise Regondi’s performance: ‘Signor Regondi was encored in both of his performances on the concertina, which were executed in a manner that astonished and delighted all who heard them’. The concert was judged ‘extremely successful, and appeared to give much satisfaction to the large audience assembled on the occasion’.17

Regondi’s Oxford appearances continued during 1851, with his contribution in December of that year to ‘Mr Marshall’s concert’ at the ‘[Star] Assembly Rooms’, reportedly ‘attended by a highly respectable audience’, and judged an ‘excellent concert’. The characteristically mixed programme included, as well as some exquisite singing, various instrumental solos: ‘As usual, Regondi delighted the company by his unrivalled performance on the concertina’, while Mr E. Marshall was ‘deservedly applauded in his fantasia on the flute’. Numerous encores were demanded, ‘which were conceded most willingly’.18

Another important local entrepreneur was James Russell, of ‘Mr. Russell’s Music Warehouse’, situated at 125 High Street and 5 Turl Street, Oxford. He too engaged an impressive series of star performers for his concerts in the 1850s, some of them shared with Marshall’s concerts. Among the artists on his books was Giulio Regondi. For ‘Mr. Russell’s Concert’ on 10 February 1859 at the Town Hall, no less than ‘Madam Viardot Garcia’ was among the singers, while among the instrumental performers were, on ‘Concertina. Signor Giulio Regondi’, and on the ‘Pianoforte. Miss Arabella Goddard’.19 The critical review focused on Arabella Goddard, a frequent visitor to the city, and noted that the event was attended by ‘as large an audience as we ever remember to have seen at a concert in that room’.20

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Giulio Regondi: 1852 lithograph by Edward Gunstone from a daguerreotype by Martin Laroche.

Some context for Regondi’s performances at these concerts is given first by the Journal’s notices of items for sale: thus the issue of 26 November 1853 contained an advertisement offering readers, at the head of a list of items, ‘CONCERTINAS. 7s. 6d. to 18s.’ as well as ‘best French accordions’ at 5s. (8-key) and 7s. (10-key), to be had from the ‘Civet Cat and Scented Soap Works’, a general and rather fashionable emporium in the Corn Market, Oxford. Secondly, a reminder that this was a city populated by a relatively large proportion of young people, with attendant problems of decorum, is provided by the notice in the Journal of 21 November 1857, issued the day after a performance featuring mimicry and song had been given by the ‘sisters Sophia and Annie’:

Owing to the disgraceful behaviour of several gentlemen [of the University] at the entertainment at the Star Hotel on Monday evening, the Sisters Sophia and Annie decline appearing again in Oxford.

This was clearly a rather lowbrow entertainment, viewed as an occasion for riotous behaviour, but in the years that followed there were reports of undergraduates’ ‘bad manners’ keeping ‘most ladies away’ from the more serious classical concerts. I have, however, found no evidence to suggest that Regondi’s performances were received other than appreciatively and with the utmost courtesy on the part of his Oxford audiences.

As well as chronicling the Oxford element in Regondi’s concert career, a facet of his life previously undocumented in the published literature, these snapshots of Oxford concerts in the nineteenth century give much insight into the concert-going customs and expectations of the period. Regondi’s art as performer on the concertina evidently responded to those conditions with repeated successes, forming a reputation for him in Oxford, as indeed elsewhere, of being ‘unrivalled’ in his field.


1. In my book Music at Oxford in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 171.
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2. I am grateful to Allan Atlas for stimulating my further enquiry into this topic, and to the staff of the Bodleian Library, Oxford (Modern Papers), and the Centre for Oxfordshire Studies for facilitating my access to source material.
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3. Jackson’s Oxford Journal (JOJ: hereafter referred to in the text as ‘the Journal’), 11 March 1843. Allan Atlas notes (in a personal communication) that the Wheatstone sales ledgers record several entries for a Mr Adams, one of whom has a first initial J. (he purchased a 48-button instrument on 4 May 1841); Horniman Museum, London, Wayne Archive, C104a, 22; the ledgers are online at
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4. JOJ, 25 March 1843.
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5. JOJ, 25 March 1843.
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6. See Peter Maurice, What shall we do with Music? A Letter (London: published for the author, 1856), 4 and 22 (documenting, in the colleges, 125 pianofortes, Page 26, Pica 3 2006 10 harmoniums, 30 flutes, 20 violins and other strings, 30 concertinas and accordions, 18 cornets, and more ‘instruments in great variety’).
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7. See John Henry Mee, The Oldest Music Room in Europe: a Record of Eighteenth- Century Enterprise at Oxford (London and New York: John Lane, 1911).
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8. Susan Wollenberg, ‘“So much rational and elegant amusement, at an expence comparatively inconsiderable”: the Holywell Concerts in the Eighteenth Century’, in Susan Wollenberg and Simon McVeigh, eds., Concert Life in Eighteenth-Century Britain (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004), ch. 12, 247.
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9. Mee, Music Room, 175.
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10. At the same time as the growth of individual entrepreneurship, a plethora of new organizations formed, with both university-wide and college-based musical societies flourishing in increasing numbers as the university and its colleges expanded during the nineteenth century.
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11. We might note that Madame Dulcken was among Giulio Regondi’s accompanists, and that her niece Isabelle (b. 1836) was herself a virtuoso concertinist; see Allan W. Atlas, The Wheatstone English Concertina in Victorian England (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), 43, and ‘Ladies in the Wheatstone Ledgers: The Gendered Concertina in Victorian England, 1835-1870’, forthcoming in the Royal Musical Association Research Chronicle, 39 (2006); see also, Helmut C. Jacobs, Der junge Gitarren- und Concertinavirtuose Giulio Regondi: Eine kritische Dokumentation seiner Konzertreise durch Europa 1840 und 1841. Texte zur Geschichte und Gegenwart des Akkordeons, 7 (Bochum: Augemus, 2001), 94, 252.
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12. Further on the Marshall family see Mee, Music Room, 184-86; and H. Watkins Shaw, The Succession of Organists of the Chapel Royal and the Cathedrals of England and Wales from c. 1538 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991), 214.
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13. The notices appear on pages 13 and 6, respectively; communication from Allan Atlas.
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14. JOJ, 20 April 1850. The Star was a local coaching inn, known under that name as early as 1469; after refurbishment of the building in 1783 it underwent further renovation in the early nineteenth century, with the opening of its Assembly Rooms to house public entertainments.
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15. JOJ, 27 April 1850.
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16. JOJ, 2 November 1850. Benefit concerts for individual musicians had been established since the mid-eighteenth century under the Musical Society’s rules. It was customary for colleagues to offer their services free on these occasions.
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17. JOJ, 9 November 1850.
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18. JOJ, 6 December 1851. The concert took place on the previous Monday, 1 December 1851. (In general the details of the repertoire performed at such concerts are not given systematically in the local press at this period.)
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19. JOJ, 5 February 1859. The Town Hall building, which was used increasingly for concerts in the nineteenth century, dated back to 1751; its replacement, built in 1893, still stands and is in use for civic events and concerts.
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20. JOJ, 12 February 1859.
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Clare: the Heartland of the Irish Concertina

Perched on the edge of insular Europe, the musical mecca of Clare covers almost 1,400 square miles of windswept mountain, blanket bogland, and limestone desert on the west coast of Ireland. Bartered historically between the western province of Connacht and the southern province of Munster, Clare sits between the barren wilderness of Connemara and the rich farm lands of Limerick and Tipperary. Throughout prolonged cycles of geological time, climate and glaciation conspired to surround the region on three sides by water and virtually isolate it from its neighbors. To the north and west, it is bordered by Galway Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. To the south and east it is hemmed in by the Shannon estuary and Lough Derg, while to the north and northwest it is cut off by the uplands of Sliabh Aughty and the lunar landscape of the Burren.

Human history in Clare began around 4000 BC, when the first Neolithic farmers arrived in the Burren karst. Speckled with over seven thousand archaeological sites — among them Bronze Age tombs, Iron Age forts, and Early Christian churches — Clare has been a research cornucopia for legions of archaeologists and natural historians since the close of the nineteenth century. The area was also layered with Viking, Norman, Elizabethan, and Cromwellian settlements, all of which left lasting imprints on the topography of the county. Few periods in Clare history, however, can compare with the social and psychological trauma of the Great Famine of the mid-nineteenth century. Sparked by an incurable potato blight, it ripped through the over-populated rural communities of the south, west, and northwest of Ireland and deprived millions of their food staple for five successive years from 1845 to 1850. By the time it was over, one million people had died of starvation, while another million had left the country in emigrant ships. Clare was in the front line of this Armageddon, which was to change forever the cultural topography of the region.

The Great Famine rocked Clare society to its foundations. In 1841, almost 25,000 Clare families lived in one-room mud cabins with inadequate ventilation and scant protection from the elements. This accounted for sixty percent of all registered houses in Clare. These homes were to become the primary victims of the famine tragedy, as hunger, disease, and emigration coincided to rid the area of entire communities. In the grim decade 1841-1851, the population of Clare fell by twenty-five percent. In all, about thirteen thousand Clare homes became uninhabited during the famine decade. 1 The anguish of Clare’s famine victims is graphically described in a plea sent on their behalf to the assistant secretary to the Treasury, Charles Trevelyan, and the Board of Works in Dublin by a Captain Wynne in December 1846:

Although a man not easily moved, I confess myself unmanned by the intensity and extent of the suffering I witnessed more especially among the women and little children, crowds of whom were to be seen scattered over the turnip fields like a flock of banished crows, devouring the raw turnips, mothers half-naked, shivering in the snow and sleet, muttering exclamations of despair, while their children were screaming with hunger. 2

Despite the feeble efforts of relief committees, public work schemes, soup kitchens, and assisted emigration to America (which was minimal from Clare), the burden on the lower social classes continued to worsen into the early 1850s. With the economic pyramid crumbling beneath them, Clare landlords responded with callous severity. They set the pace for mass evictions in Ireland. With 3.2 percent of the Irish population, the county experienced 8.3 percent of all permanent evictions recorded by the Royal Irish Constabulary in the years 1849-1854.33 Increased costs and declining rents drove some landlords, like the Marquis of Thomond, who owned 40,000 acres, from mortgage to mortgage and eventual bankruptcy. Others, like the Machiavellian Vandaleurs in Kilrush (about whose purchases of Wheatstone concertinas, see below), opted for mass evictions and house leveling in an attempt to rid the countryside of inefficient rundale farms.4 Chronicled in horrific detail by the Illustrated London News, many of these clearances were conducted with untold brutality by land agents like Marcus Keane on the Iorrus peninsula. Keane, who exercised control over 60,000 acres, leveled as many as five hundred homes on behalf of his ascendancy clientele.5 From November 1847 to July 1850, more than 14,000 people (2,700 families) were evicted in the Kilrush Union alone, an exodus unparalleled in any other part of Ireland. Evicted tenants had few options, none of which was appealing. The prospect of being admitted to the workhouse was tantamount to a slow death, with cholera, malnutrition, and family breakup included as part of the destitute package. Many chose instead to brave the elements — and defy the law — by making temporary shelters in scailps (bog holes), behind stone walls, or in ditches, using the remnants of their broken homes as makeshift shelters.

The Grim Requiem of the Music Maker

While Crown clerks compiled sterile statistics on the famine catastrophe, and journalists tugged at the heartstrings of the literate public, the folk poet, the singer, and the music maker indexed the cultural cleansing of the Great Famine from the humanistic perspective of the famine victims themselves. Reflecting in lucid detail upon the inner world of the Irish-speaking clachán, famine songs, piping airs, and musical-place lore chronicled the demise of community life, work rituals, calendar customs, and folk beliefs. These anonymous tunes also mirrored the ultimate demise of their own keepers, who had given them a voice in the living traditions of pre-famine Ireland.

In Clare, where tradition-bearers and listeners, repertoires and musical territories were ravaged irrevocably by starvation and diaspora, folkloric evidence cites musicians ending their days in the workhouse, instrument makers going to ruin, and pipers following their audiences into exile in the New World. Contemporary antiquarians like George Petrie and Eugene O’Curry, who collected music and songs from clachán-based informants in West Clare prior to the famine, reflect sadly on the ‘silence’ which had been inflicted on the ‘land of song’.6 Their pessimism was an epitaph for the old world of the swaree and the dancing master, the townland and the fairy path, which had now ceded its place to a more conservative and materialistic milieu.7

While they cannot be regarded in the same light as orthodox eyewitnesses, traditional musicians did observe the famine droch-shaol (bad life) at close quarters. Their grim requiem contains cogent observations of its impact in rural communities.8 The small fragments of Clare songs which survived in Irish, like that recorded from Síle Ní Néill in Coolmeen, focused on the interwoven themes of mortality, destitution, and exile from the ‘insider’ perspective of the victims and their immediate kin. The following verse, recorded from Seán Mac Mathúna, who was born in Luach near Doolin in 1876, is a poignant case in point:

Is dána an rud domhsa a bheith ag súil le comhra
Is maith an rud domhsa má d’fhuighinn braillín
Is a Rí na Glóire tabhair fuscailt domhsa
Go dté mé im´chónaí san gcill úd thíos.9

It is a bad thing for me to expect a coffin
It will be a good thing for me to get a sheet
And God of Glory, grant me solace
Until I go to dwell in that graveyard below.
(My translation)

Despite the cultural cleansing of the Great Famine, almost a half-century would pass before the indigenous piping dialects of Clare would finally expire. In the years after 1850, a few itinerant pipers managed to eke out a livelihood in the small towns and villages in the west of the county. For example, Paddy O’Neill and John Quinlan worked as pipers on riverboats plying the Shannon between Limerick and Kilrush. Quinlan, who was commonly known as ‘Jack the Piper’, also played for holiday makers in Lahinch and Lisdoonvarna.10 In the Sliabh Aughty uplands of East Clare, the last remnants of local piping died with Mick Gill and Michael Burke before the end of the century. One of the last pipers of note to visit the area was Loughrea man Pat Twohill, who, along with his brother John, had worked as a professional piper in England during the 1860s. Twohill’s younger brother James was father of the celebrated American piper Patsy Touhey, who emigrated from Loughrea, Co. Galway, with his parents in 1869.

Fleeing the depression of the post-famine era, several Clare pipers followed their audiences into exile in the New World. Corofin-born Patrick Galvin left Clare for New Zealand in the late 1850s. Dubbed ‘The New Zealand Piper’ by the collector Francis O’Neill, it would be forty years before Galvin would return again to his native place. His contemporary, Johnny Patterson, was the most flamboyant of Clare’s emigrant pipers. In his celebrated ditty ‘The Stone Outside John Murphy’s Door’, Patterson immortalized his impoverished childhood in the hovels of Old Mill Street in Ennis. Having survived the worst effects of the famine, Patterson joined the British Army, where he received piccolo and drum lessons in the army band. At the end of five years of service, he bought his way out of the army and joined Swallow’s Circus. For the next forty years, Patterson toured Ireland, England, and the United States with a variety of circus companies. Dubbed the ‘Rambler from Clare’, Patterson featured piping in many of his shows, especially in the United States, where he was billed as a ‘Famous Irish clown and piper’. His songs include such Irish-American standards as Good Bye Johnny Dear, The Hat My Father Wore, The Garden Where the Praties Grow, and The Roving Irish Boy, and thrived on emigrant sentimentality.11

Pipers were not the only music makers to take their leave from Clare. Fiddlers and flute players were also conspicuous among Clare émigrés in North America. Fiddler Paddy Poole from Tulla spent many years in the United States in the late nineteenth century. He began teaching fiddle in East Clare after he returned home in the 1920s. Poole spent some time in Chicago, where he played with the vaudevillian piper Patsy Touhey. Flute player Patrick O’Mahony from West Clare also found his way to Chicago in the early 1880s. There he joined the police force and contributed numerous Clare dance tunes to the published collections of Francis O’Neill.12

It was into this milieu of cultural upheaval and musical change that the Anglo-German concertina arrived in Clare during the middle decades of the nineteenth century. It would eventually replace the uilleann pipes (whose exponents were ravaged by famine and exile) as a popular vernacular instrument. While its presence was especially felt in fishing, piloting, and trading communities along the lower Shannon estuary — one of the busiest riverine networks in Ireland during the nineteenth century — its espousal by women music makers would become its most enduring sociological feature at a time when women in Irish society were, for the most part, subservient players in a ubiquitous patriarchal milieu.13

Newfound Wealth, River Pilots, and Women’s Concertinas

Women born into rural communities in post-famine Clare grew up in a spartan, materialistic world. As non-inhering dependents in a patriarchal culture, women shared a common fate with servant boys, farm laborers, and disinherited males on the family farm. As the ‘disinherited sex’, they were deprived of the independent income, however meager, they enjoyed from domestic industry prior to the famine.14 With marriage becoming an economic union more often than an amorous one, wives became increasingly subservient to their domestic masters, their husbands. Similarly, unmarried sisters were governed by the whims of their fathers and brothers. For women lacking the luxury of a dowry or a farm to boost their economic status, their only escape was to emigrate, or else to find work as servant girls or shop attendants in a nearby town.

As the landless laborer and the clachán disappeared from the Clare countryside, the average size of farms got bigger. In the resulting economic transformation, it became increasingly difficult to marry above or below one’s ‘station’. As strong farmers refused to marry their daughters to laborers, the social choice for prospectors in the marriage market narrowed considerably.15 The age of marriage also changed. Sons waiting to inherit the family farm tended to be more patient than daughters waiting for a husband. Hence, husbands tended to be older than their wives. The widening age gap between spouses created a high proportion of widows at the other end of the life cycle. Wives and widows, many of them victims of loveless matches engineered by their fathers or local match makers, often projected their hunger for affection onto their eldest sons, and dreaded the rivalry of a daughter-in-law, who would ultimately compete with her for her son’s loyalty.

By the 1890s, however, the climate of frugality, which had marked the previous decades, began to wane, and the quality of women’s lives improved. Successive Land Acts and the deft attempts of Tory governments to ‘kill Home Rule with kindness’ led to an overall improvement in social and economic life in the Irish countryside. Inspired by similar developments in Denmark, Sir Horace Plunket’s cooperative movement helped to improve Irish agriculture, especially dairy farming. Plunket founded the first of his dairies, or ‘creameries’ as they are called in rural Ireland, in 1889 to upgrade the quality of Irish butter and cheese.16 Within a decade, creameries became common landmarks in most rural parishes. Following the brief failure of the potato crop in 1890, the future Prime Minister Arthur Balfour introduced a number of light railway schemes. In 1891, the Congested Districts Board was established to amalgamate farms and improve living conditions in impoverished western areas. Similarly, political devolution took an unprecedented step forward in 1898, when the Local Government Act created urban and county councils all over Ireland.

Clare was among the beneficiaries of these economic changes. The West Clare Railway had been incorporated in 1883. Within a decade, its South Clare line, linking Kilrush, Kilkee, and Miltown Malbay, was completed. As well as improving travel within the county, the railway introduced a whole range of consumer goods and services, which were once beyond the reach of its patrons. The combined effects of increased communication, the co-op movement, and the Congested Districts Board helped to generate new independent income for women in rural Clare. By the end of the century, many were taking advantage of the buoyant economic climate to sell eggs and butter in local country shops or nearby village markets. Others boarded the ‘West Clare’ to transport animals and garden produce to market towns along the railway line. This new domestic income allowed women to buy a range of goods, including cheap concertinas, which became ubiquitous in rural communities by the early 1900s. Their intriguing espousal of this hexagonal squeezebox would have far-reaching musical and social consequences.

Influenced by the Chinese shêng, and perhaps the Laotian khaen (ancient free-reed instruments brought to Europe by French Jesuit missionaries in the eighteenth century), the concertina had come to fruition during the Romantic period. The English concertina was patented by Sir Charles Wheatstone in 1829. Popular in music salons and parlors from Victorian England to Tsarist Russia, Wheatstone’s expensive chromatic instrument remained a ‘high art’ curiosity for most of the nineteenth century, though by the 1880s, it had found its way down into the ranks of working class musicians in industrial England, as well as into traditional music communities in rural Lancashire, the Cotswolds, and Central Midlands. It would be another half century, however, before a single-action Anglo version of Wheatstone’s concertina would become popular in the west of Ireland.17

Although the Dublin concertina manufacturer Joseph Scates advertised his instruments in the popular Freeman’s Journal as early as 1852, there is no evidence to suggest that his concertinas enjoyed widespread popularity among music communities in contemporary Clare.18 Moreover, though the names of such aristocratic Clare families as the Vandeleurs, Tolers, and Abingers appear in the sales ledgers of the London Wheatstone company during the 1840s and 1850s,19 oral history contends that the first concertinas to arrive en masse into Clare were German-made imports. Fragile, cheap, and short-lived, these ‘consumer’ instruments were probably adapted from Carl Uhlig’s diatonic konzertina made in Chemnitz, Germany, in the 1830s, and popularized by Manen’s twenty-key concertinas that reached the English marketplace in 1847. These cheap instruments enjoyed widespread popularity among sailors on long sea voyages and were stocked by maritime chandlers as part of their stock-in-trade merchandise. German concertinas arrived in Clare through a variety of sources, some direct and conspicuous, others oblique and vicarious. Its initial courier was most likely river traffic plying the Shannon between Loop Head and Limerick city, the last port of call for tall ships before crossing the North Atlantic.

Superceded to some degree by the West Clare Railway after 1892, the Shannon had been one of the busiest waterways in insular Europe throughout the nineteenth century.20 Apart from foreign cargo, the river had a thriving local trade. Steam boats carried stout, butter, and coal between Limerick and Kilrush, while turf boats brought turf up the river from as far west as Kilbaha. With its bustling ports, brisk shipping trade, and onerous navigational challenges, the river offered employment to shipwrights, dockers, coopers, lighthouse keepers, and fishermen who lived along its banks. The lives and activities of these riverine communities have been recorded extensively in the traditional songs and folklore of West Clare. Maritime superstitions, ghost ships, sea monsters, and mermaid legends are all part of the rich repository of Clare sea lore.

As well as servicing vessels arriving from foreign ports, islanders and river men along the Shannon had extensive ocean-going experience themselves. Ships owned by Limerick merchants enlisted crews from communities on both sides of the river in Clare, Limerick, and Kerry. Merchant seamen from Scattery Island, on the mouth of the estuary, had a long history of maritime travel. In 1903, for example, the three-master sailing ship the Salterbeck, owned by Captain James Murray of Kilrush, was transporting kelp and flagstones from Cappagh across the Atlantic to St. John’s, Newfoundland. Its crew ‘to a man’ was from Scattery. According to folklore collected on Scattery Island by Seán Mac Craith in 1954, the Salterbeck made the round trip across the Atlantic in the spring of 1903 in a record-breaking ‘eight weeks and five days’. 21 Up until the 1950s, social life on Scattery showed all the signs of maritime wealth. Book collections, eight-day clocks, and wireless sets were standard fittings in many island homes. In the 1920s, the islanders were among the first people in Clare to own Victrola-type gramophones and 78 rpm recordings of Irish traditional music. These were brought back to Scattery from America by merchant seamen from the island. It is likely that German concertinas reached West Clare through these same maritime channels.

By 1900, the concertina had replaced the uilleann pipes as a household instrument in rural Clare. Women earning surplus income from egg and butter sales, as well as other domestic industries, were among its chief patrons. In the vernacular of West Clare, the instrument was referred to as a bean cháirdín (female accordion), such was its popularity among female players. By 1910, concertinas were being stocked by hardware stores and bicycle shops in Ennis, Kilrush, Kildysart, and Ennistymon. They were usually bought on market days after poultry or dairy produce had been exchanged for money. Women, whose cottage earnings were consistent from year to year, could afford to upgrade to a new concertina, for the princely sum of half-a-crown, every few years.

The concertina was given pride of place in the country house kitchens of West Clare. Like tea, tobacco, and other domestic commodities, which were stored in a dry place, a special clúid, or alcove, was constructed for the concertina in the inner wall of the hearth, close to the open fire. Although many houses had resident concertina players who knew enough tunes to play for a polka set, some non-musical households also purchased concertinas, which they kept on hand in the alcove for a local concertina player to ‘come on cuaird to the house’ (literally ‘come on a visit to the house’).22 Unlike the daughters of strong farmers who learned to read piano scores and classical arias in bourgeois convent schools, young women who bought concertinas ‘out of their egg money’ learned their music informally in a kitchen setting. In this largely egalitarian environment, there was no obligation to learn an extensive repertoire, or to rise to certain predetermined standards of musical excellence. Many country house debutantes used a numbering system to learn tunes, while others relied on a more direct process of aural transmission. The primary objective for most young concertina players was to perfect local jig, reel, and polka rhythms, and to learn enough dance tunes to play for the Plain Set dance. In this self-contained rural milieu, proactive sharing of music and dance was considered far more important than the private appreciation of ‘high-art’ music from a distant urban periphery, which was then becoming the norm in many bourgeois families in the west of Ireland.

For most of the next century, concertina music would dovetail with the indigenous set dancing dialects of rural Clare and find its main patrons in rural communities in the west and east of the county. When Anglo-German concertinas made by Jeffries, Wheatstone, and Lachenal flooded the antique markets in Petticoat Lane after World War II, Clare musicians working in London became a key source for delivering concertinas to their neighbors back home. Henceforth, emigrant parcels, music shops, and hardware stores became the chief suppliers of new instruments, which were really ‘cast off’ instruments from the upper echelons of British society.

Clare Concertina Dialects and Players

In the period 1890-1970, concertina playing in Clare took place primarily in mountain communities (above the 200-foot contour) to the north and east of the county, and in the blanket boglands of West Clare.

Topographical examination of these concertina territories reveals four musical ‘dialects’ which were formed by clachán-type community clusters during the post-famine era, and which dovetailed with the indigenous set dancing dialects of rural Clare.23 The concertina dialect of south West Clare was highly rhythmical, melodically simple, and characterized by single-row fingering techniques on Anglo-German instruments. The Plain Set danced to polkas predominated in the region prior to the diffusion of the ubiquitous Caledonian Set in the 1920s and 1930s. Because of the influx of traveling teachers like fiddler George Whelan who crossed the Shannon from Kerry, the music of the area was linked umbilically with the polka and slide repertoires of Kerry and West Limerick. Hence, older concertina players like Charlie Simmons, Solus Lillis, Elizabeth Crotty, Matty Hanrahan, Frank Griffin, and Marty Purtill played a variety of archaic polkas and single reels. The Caledonian Set, however, facilitated more complex double reels, which were favored by players like Tom Carey, Sonny Murray, Tommy McCarthy, Bernard O’Sullivan, and Tommy McMahon.

The concertina dialect of mid West Clare was shaped explicitly by the rhythmic complexities of Caledonian set dancing, as well as the by American 78 rpm recordings of Co. Westmeath exile William J. Mullaly, which were prefaced by the dispersal of gramophones in the area during the 1920s. Dominated by the brean tír uplands of Mount Callan, this area extends from the Fergus Valley in the east, to Quilty on the Atlantic seaboard. Home to celebrated concertina masters such as Noel Hill, Edel Fox, Miriam Collins, Michael Sexton, and Gerard Haugh, as well as the late Tony Crehan and Gerdie Commane (see Example 1 in the Appendix for his version of ‘The Kilnamona Barndance’), the region still houses the steps and dance figures of Pat Barron, the last of the traveling dancing masters to teach in West Clare in the 1930s. Complex cross-row fingering, intensive melodic ornamentation, and a formidable repertoire of dance tunes mark the indigenous concertina style of this region.

The most outstanding concertina master in mid West Clare in recent times was Paddy Murphy from Fiach Roe, a rural community on the brow of Mount Callan (see Figure 1) . Influenced by the American concertina recordings of William J. Mullaly in the late 1920s,24 Paddy pioneered a unique system of cross-row fingering which facilitated the use of alternative scales for tunes in unfamiliar keys.25 The first Irish-born concertina player to broadcast on Irish radio, Paddy Murphy was also a competitive pioneer of the instrument. His victory at the All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil (National Music Competition) in Cavan in 1954 marked the first-ever appearance of the concertina in an Irish national music competition. This forum has since attracted thousands of concertina players from all over Ireland, Britain, and North America. Much of Murphy’s vast repertoire (see Example 2 in the Appendix for his version of ‘The Moving Cloud’) was learned aurally from the fiddling of the local postman, Hughdie Doohan, who had a rare ability to read music from O’Neill’s Music of Ireland, which was published in Chicago in 1903 and enjoyed biblical status among Irish music communities by the 1920s and 1930s. Doohan, who was a key member of the local Fiach Roe Céilí Band, made well sure that his cohorts (whose skills of musical acquisition were primarily aural) would not want for access to the largest data bank of traditional Irish dance melodies in the world at the time.

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Fig.1. Clare concertina master Paddy Murphy, 1990 (© Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin,1990)

North Clare consists of three concertina communities situated along the perimeter of the Burren karst, all of which shared a common musical dialect. Two of these, Doolin and Bellharbour, were coastal, while the third was located in Kilfenora and Kilnaboy in the south Burren. With the curious exception of Pakie Russell (whose innovative style also explored cross-row fingering), most of the older players in North Clare favored melodically simple music and single-row fingering techniques, accentuating the inside or G row of the Anglo-German concertina. The overriding characteristic of this dialect was its emphasis on rhythm and ‘lift’ for set dancers. This ‘lift’ was endemic in the music of Peadaí Pheaitín Ó Flannagáin, James Droney, Brody Kierse, Biddy McGrath, and Michilín Connollan. It is still conspicuous today in the concertina playing of Chris, Ann, and Francis Droney (see Figure 2), Máirtín Fahy and Mick Carrucan, all of whom are extolled by North Clare set dancers.

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Fig. 2. Three generations of the Droney family from Bellharbour, northwest Clare,1969: Ann, James, and Chris. Chris Droney continues to enjoy a formidable reputation both in Ireland and among Irish concertina players in Europe and North America (© Chris Droney. Courtesy of the Droney family, 1988).

Concertina music in East Clare was concentrated along the Clare-Galway border in Sliabh Aughty, in the drumlin belt of Clooney and Feakle, and above the fertile lowlands of the Shannon, in Cratloe and Kilfentenan. German-made concertinas predominated in the region during the early 1900s, most of which were owned by women who seldom played beyond the confines of their own kitchens. The archaic repertoire and ethereal settings of Sliabh Aughty found a resolute custodian in concertina master John Naughton of Kilclaren. Many of his settings were shared by Connie Hogan from Woodford in East Galway, where dance music was dialectically linked to the repertoires played in neighboring communities in East Clare. The house music of the drumlin belt to the south was typified by the concertina playing of Mikey Donoghue, Bridget Dinan, and Margaret Dooley, the latter two continuing to play well after their one-hundredth birthdays. The concertina music of Cratloe and Kilfentenan survived until recent times in the playing of Paddy Shaughnessy and John O’Gorman. Reminiscent of an older world of cross-road dancing and rural ‘cuairding’, their traditional milieu was purged by the suburban sprawl of cosmopolitan Limerick and, ironically, ignored by the revival of traditional music in nearby towns and villages during the 1970s. The most prominent exponent of East Clare concertina music today is Mary McNamara, who has sustained a vibrant corpus of dance tunes from such masters as John Naughton and Mikey Donoghue. (See Figure 3 for a topographical map of Clare concertina music, 1880-1980.)

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Fig. 3. Topography of Clare Concertina Music, 1880-1980 (©Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin)

Clare Concertina Music Today

Concertina music in Clare has experienced a phenomenal upsurge since the 1980s, not least as a result of schools like Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy and Éigse Mrs. Crotty, which have created a forum for master performers and students. While this upsurge has attracted huge numbers of students to the instrument, it has failed to stem Clare Concertina Music Today Concertina music in Clare has experienced a phenomenal since the 1980s, not least as a result of schools like Scoil Samhraidh Clancy and Éigse Mrs. Crotty, which have created a forum performers and students. While this upsurge has attracted huge of students to the instrument, it has failed to stem the inevitable decline of regional concertina dialects in Clare. Conversely, recent developments in competitive performance and commercial recording have spurred the growth of a ‘modernist’ generic style and a meticulous imitation of professional performers, a practice that is not without precedent in Irish music history. While this homogenization has raised the level of technical accomplishment in Clare concertina playing, it has also led to the emergence of prodigiously ornamented tune settings and the introduction of non-indigenous repertoires. Similarly, it has led to an increased separation between ‘performance’ music and ‘dance’ music. Older players, whose sense of rhythm was implicitly linked to set dancing, often feel isolated by younger players who have eschewed the traditional dance milieu for the concert stage and television studio. Among the minority of younger players who continue to sustain the older dialects of Clare are Jacqui McCarthy, Florence Fahy, Breeda Green, Louise Pyne, and Francis Droney.

Foremost among an innovative corps of ‘modernist’ performers are Edel Fox, Pádraig Rynne, Hugh Healy, John McMahon, and Noel Hill, whose technical genius has propelled the concertina music of Clare well beyond the perimeters of its former communal dialects and whose teaching has helped to create a vast transnational network of Anglo-German concertina enthusiasts who are truly devoted to the concertina music of their Clare mentors. Like their predecessors in the early 1900s, women continue to dominate Clare concertina music. Among its celebrated female exponents are Yvonne and Lourda Griffin, Bríd and Ruth Meaney, Dympna Sullivan, Lorraine O’Brien, and Edel Fox, a recent recipient of the ‘Young Traditional Musician of the Year’ award from Irish national television. It is noteworthy

that longevity is common among female concertina players in Clare. Both Margaret Dooley and Bridget Dinan in East Clare lived well over one hundred years. Similarly, Susan Whelan of Islebrack celebrated her centenary in 1991 by playing a few tunes on her new Czechoslovakian concertina. The oldest musician in Clare until her death in December 2000 at the age of one hundred and four was concertina player Molly Carthy from Lisroe (see Figure 4). Having played music in three centuries, Molly entertained her family nightly (until a week before her death) by playing dance tunes on a teetering Bastari concertina made in Italy. Such centennial temerity bodes well for the future of concertina music in Clare and its renowned female guardians, especially now at the dawn of another new century and another brave new world of Irish concertina music.

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Fig. 4. The author with 101-year-old concertina player Molly Carthy, Clare, 1997 (© Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin, 1997).


1. Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh, ‘Aspects of the Economy and Society in Nineteenth Century Clare’, Dal gCais: Journal of Clare, 5 (1979), 110-14.
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2. Brian Dinan, Clare and Its People: A Concise History (Cork: Mercier Press, 1987), 96.
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3. James S. Donnelly, Jr., ‘The Kilrush Clearances during the Great Famine’, paper presented at the annual conference of the American Conference for Irish Studies, Fort Lauderdale, Florida (April, 1998).
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4. Clacháns (small rural villages or hamlets) associated with open-field rundale farms (using an infield/outfield system of crop rotation) were common in most parts of rural Ireland in the century before the outbreak of the Great Famine; see E. Estyn Evans, The Personality of Ireland: Habitat, Heritage and History (Belfast: Blackstaff Press, 1981), 55.
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5. Donnelly, ‘The Kilrush Clearances’; Donnelly cites the detailed investigations of the surveyor Francis Coffee who presented his findings on the Kilrush Clearances to Poulett Scrope’s select committee in July 1850. Coffee used local Ordnance Survey maps to track evidence of evictions on the southwest Clare peninsula. See also, Donnelly, The Great Irish Potato Famine (Stroud: Sutton Publishing, 2002), 146-47.
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6. George Petrie, The Complete Collection of Irish Music, ed. Charles Villiers Stanford (London: Boosey, 1902-1905), vol. 1, xii.
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7. The term swaree from the French soirée is a remnant of the Gallicized vocabulary of the pre-famine dancing masters.
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8.The famine years were referred to as ‘an droch-shaol’ (‘the bad life’) in Irish speaking communities. The use of the popular term ‘gorta’ (‘famine’) was a much later development.
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9. Cited in Cathal Póirtéir, Glórtha ón Ghorta: Bealoideas na Gaeilge agus an Gorta Mór (Baile Átha Cliath: Coiscéim, 1996), 286.
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10. Francis O’Neill, Irish Minstrels and Musicians (Chicago: Reegan, 1913), 230-31, 342-43. W.R. le Fanu gives a colorful description of meeting Paddy O’Neill on board the ‘Garry Owen’ (a boat plying the Shannon between Limerick and Kilrush) in his Seventy Years of Irish Life (New York: Arnold, 1898); cited in O’Neill, Irish Minstrels and Musicians, 230.
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11. Harry Bradshaw, ‘Johnny Patterson: The Rambler from Clare’, Dal gCais: Journal of Clare, 6 (1982), 73-80.
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12. O’Neill, Irish Minstrels and Musicians, 18-19.
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13. See Margaret MacCurtain and Donncha Ó Corráin, eds., Women in Irish Society: The Historical Dimension (Dublin: Arlen House; The Women’s Press, 1978).
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14. J.J. Lee, ‘Continuity and Change in Ireland 1945-1970’, in J.J. Lee, ed., Ireland 1945-1970 (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan, 1979), 166-77.
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15. Lee, The Modernization of Irish Society 1848-1918 (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan, 1973), 4.
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16. F.S.L. Lyons, Culture and Anarchy in Ireland 1890-1939 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979), 53.
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17. Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin, ‘The Concertina in the Traditional Music of Clare’, Ph.D. dissertation, Queen’s University, Belfast (1990), 47-72; see also Allan W. Atlas, The Wheatstone English Concertina in Victorian England (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), and, on the matter of the patent, Atlas, ‘Historical Document: George Grove’s Article on the “Concertina” in the First Edition of A Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1878)’, Papers of the International Concertina Association, 2 (2005), 61.
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18. See Fintan Vallely, ed., The Companion to Irish Traditional Music (Cork: Cork University Press, 1999). 83. Scates, who imported pianos, harmoniums, and Wheatstone concertinas, traded at 26 College Green, Dublin, a very fashionable Dublin location at the time.
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19. I draw here on Allan Atlas, ‘Ladies in the Wheatstone Ledgers: The Gendered Concertina in Victorian England, 1835-1870’, forthcoming in the Royal Musical Association Research Chronicle, 39 (2006). Briefly the following members of these families are recorded in the ledgers: Lady G[race] Vandeleur, 1 May 1855 (ledger C1049, 53) and 21 June 1855 (C1049, 58); a Lieutenant Vandeleur, 6 November 1856 (C1050, 38); Lady Elizabeth Toler, 12 March 1851 (C1047, 11); and Lord Abinger (= Robert Campbell Scarlet, 2nd Baron of Abinger and father of Lady Elizabeth Toler), 28 April 1842 (C1046, 13, and C104a, 27). The nine extant Wheatstone & Co. sales ledgers from the nineteenth century are housed in the Horniman Museum, London, Wayne Archive; they are online at My thanks to Allan Atlas for sharing this information with me prior to its publication.
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20. Seán Spellissy, ‘The Fergus Estuary: Reclamation and the Life of a River Pilot’, Dal gCais: Journal of Clare, 8 (1986), 31-35. See also Kevin Danaher, In Ireland Long Ago (Cork: Mercier Press, 1962), 118.
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21. Bairbre Ó Floinn, ‘The Lore of the Sea in County Clare: From the Collections of the Irish Folklore Commission’, Dal gCais: Journal of Clare, 8 (1986), 107-28.
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22. In the ‘macaronic’ (half-Irish, half-English) linguistic milieu of late nineteenth-century Clare, Irish language terms and phrases still enjoyed currency in the vernacular speech of rural communities, an uneasy reminder of the cultural cleansing effects of the Great Irish Famine (1845-1850).
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23. See Ó hAllmhuráin, ‘The Concertina in the Traditional Music of Clare’, 95, 432.
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24. Harry Bradshaw, liner notes to the recording William Mullaly: The First Irish Concertina Player to Record (Dublin: Viva Voce 005, n.d).
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25. Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin ‘From Hughdie’s to the Latin Quarter’, Treoir: The Book of Traditional Music, Song and Dance, 25/2 (1993), 40-44.
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Select Discography

Bernard O’Sullivan and Tommy McMahon, Clare Concertinas: Bernard O’Sullivan and Tommy McMahon, Topic-Free Reed, 502 (1975).

John Kelly, John Kelly: Fiddle and Concertina Player, Topic-Free Reed, 504 (1975).

Various Clare Concertina Players, Irish Traditional Concertina Styles, Topic-Free Reed, 506 (1975).

Pakie, Micko, and Gussie Russell, The Russell Family Album, Topic, 251 (1977).

Noel Hill, Noel Hill: The Irish Concertina, Ceirníní Cladaigh, CC 21 (1988).

John McMahon featured in Fisherstreet: Out in the Night: Music from Clare, Mulligan, CLUN 57 (1991).

Mary McNamara, Mary McNamara: Traditional Music from East Clare, Ceirníní Cladaigh, CC 60 (1994).

Chris Droney, Chris Droney: The Fertile Rock, Cló Iar-Chonnachta, CIC 110 (1995).

John Williams, John Williams, Green Linnet, GL 1157 (1995).

Gearóid ÓhAllmhuráin, Gearóid ÓhAllmhuráin: Traditional Music from Clare and Beyond, Celtic Crossings, CC2005 (1996/2005).

Tommy McCarthy, Tommy McCarthy: Sporting Nell: Concertina, Uilleann Pipes and Tin Whistle, Maree Music, MMC 52 (1997).

Tim Collins, Dancing on Silver: Irish Traditional Concertina Music, Cróisín Music, CM 001 (2004).

Ex. 1. Gerdie Commane’s version of The Kilnamona Barndance. The late Gerdie Commane, who died in December 2005, at the age of 88, was one of Clare’s most celebrated traditional concertina players. His recording with Inagh fiddler Joe Ryan, Two Gentlemen of Clare Music (Ennis: Clachán Music, 2002), is a landmark in archival recording (transcription © Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin, 1990).

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Ex. 2. Paddy Murphy’s version of The Moving Cloud reel. Composed by Donegal fiddler Neillidh Boyle, this reel is regarded as a pièce de résistance by free-reed players in Ireland. This transcription shows Murphy’s consummate mastery of alternative scales, melodic variations, and complex ornamentation techniques (transcription © Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin, 1990).

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The Matusewitch Family: A Bibliography

For three generations, stretching back to the early twentieth century, the Matusewitch family has stood at the forefront of both the concertina and accordion worlds. Gregory (1886-1939), the family patriarch, concertized extensively in Russia and Europe before moving the family to the United States in 1923, where he had a relatively brief but active career under the auspices of the young impresario Sol Hurok. The wide spectrum of his performances included appearances in major concert halls (including New York’s Carnegie Hall and Town Hall), on early American radio broadcasts and recordings for the Victor Talking Machine Company, and even, for a time, on the vaudeville circuit.

Boris (1918-1978), the younger of Gregory’s two sons, succeeded him as the USA’s leading concertinist and teacher of the instrument. Over the course of a rich and varied career, he performed at west coast nightclubs, gave annual concerts at Carnegie Recital Hall, appeared on leading television shows, was a featured soloist with orchestras, and teamed up with dancer Rod Strong in an innovative combination of music and dance. As for his students: they are legion. Gregory’s other son, Sergei (1917-1998), was primarily an accordionist, though he also played the concertina and taught the instrument together with Boris at their New York music studio from the 1950s through the 1970s. Finally, Boris’s son, Eric (b. 1951), represents a third generation of the family; and though content to call himself an amateur, he often performed publicly with his father at venues that included Carnegie Recital Hall.

In addition to popularizing the English concertina in the United States, the Matusewitch family’s legacy includes two concertina tutors, several recordings, a handful of original compositions for concertina and accordion, a veritable slew of journal articles about the family, and scrapbooks full of glowing reviews and other notices. These materials constitute a significant collection of (largely English-language) material both by and about the family and form the core of the bibliography that follows.

The bibliography deals with the careers of Gregory, Boris, and Sergei. The entries, which range chronologically from 1922 to the present day, are organized in nine parts, some alphabetically by author/title (the latter for those that are unsigned), others chronologically by ‘event’: I. books and monographs; II. articles in journals, newspapers, and newsletters; III. select concert notices and reviews; IV. a list of compositions written for concertina and accordion by Gregory and Sergei Matusewitch, respectively; V. Boris on Broadway; VI. a reference to Boris’s television appearance; VII. recordings; VIII. concertina tutors; and IX. miscellaneous items. Finally, some entries for journals and newspapers lack references to volume and/or page numbers, this because I have gleaned them from scrapbook clippings that were clipped with just a little too much abandon.

I. Books

Atlas, Allan W. The Wheatstone English Concertina in Victorian England (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996).
Atlas dedicated his book to Boris and Sergei, with whom he studied concertina and accordion, respectively; he notes that the great concertina virtuoso of the first half of the 20th century, Gregory Matusewitch, ‘played mainly violin music, as did his sons Boris and Sergei’ (p. 72, n. 75).

Carlin, Richard. English Concertina (New York: Oak Publications, 1977).
Carlin points out that Gregory was a Russian concertina ‘master’ who toured England and the USA; contains photos of Boris with dance partner Rod Strong, c. 1952 (p. 6) and Gregory and a pupil, from the 1920s (p. 53).

Flynn, Ronald, Edwin Davidson, and Edward Chavez. The Golden Age of the Accordion (Schertz, TX: Flynn Associates, 1984).
Includes an interview with John Reuther, the founding editor of Accordion World, who notes that Sergei studied accordion with Pietro Deiro and taught at Wurlitzer’s in New York during the 1930s (pp. 142-143); there is a photo of Sergei (p. 158).

Rose, Alexander. Memoirs of a Heterosexual (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1967).
The author, who studied with Boris, writes that he ‘[h]eard a concertina player in a night club and rushed to Matusewitch, the famous concertina artist, [the] next day for lessons’ (p. 284).

Taubman, Howard. The Pleasure of Their Company: A Reminiscence (Portland, OR: Amadeus Press, 1994).
The former New York Times music and drama critic served in the army (entertainment unit) with Boris during World War II; he fondly recalls Boris as a friend and musician, writing that ‘Boris played the concertina brilliantly, and his repertoire was enormous’ (pp. 133-34).

Wagner, Christoph. Das Akkordeon oder die Erfindung der populären Musik (Mainz: Schott, 2001).
Includes a discussion of Gregory’s career, along with a publicity photo taken in Danzig during the 1920s (pp. 152-54).

II. Journals, Newspapers, and Newsletters

Accordion World 8 (September 1942); 9 (November 1943).
The covers of these two issues contain photos of Sergei, ‘concert artist, composer and teacher’.

Atlas, Allan W. ‘The “Respectable” Concertina’, Music & Letters 80 (1999), 241-53.
Refers to a recording that includes a 1927/28 selection by Gregory (p. 250; see §VII).

_____. Review of Music for the English Concertina, ed. Willem Wakker, Free-Reed Journal 1 (1999), 81-86.
Includes brief references to Gregory and Boris, and mentions that the latter performed Bernhard Molique’s Concertina Concerto in G, Op. 46 (p. 81).

Berquist, Hilding. ‘The Accordion and Concertina in Russia’, Accordion World 18 (October 1953), 7.
Notes that Gregory ‘studied at the Royal Academy of Music in Riga, graduating in 1915’.

_____. ‘Concertinas’, Accordion World 14 (September 1949), 12-13, 32-33; also online at the Classical Free Reed website:
Writes that ‘[a]ccordionists would do well to attend the recitals and other appearances of our own Boris Matusewitch’.

_____. ‘Concertina Concertos’, Accordion World 15 (January 1950), 17, 37.
Berquist states that he introduced Boris to the Molique Concertina Concerto No. 1 in G, Op. 46 (p. 17).

_____. ‘Concertina Literature, Part 2’, Accordion World 15 (October 1950),12-16; also online at the Classical Free-Reed website:
Berquist notes that he gave Boris copies of concertina concertos by Franz Bosen and Bernhard Molique.

C. Wheatstone & Co. The Concertina World, 1851-1951 (1951).
A seven-page history of—and publicity brochure for—the Wheatstone concertina company; lists Boris as one of the ‘stars’ of the concertina world and includes his photo.

Carlin, Richard. ‘The English Concertina: Hard Times’, Mugwumps 6 (April 1980), 12-19.
Devotes several paragraphs to the careers of Gregory and Boris.

‘Concertina Artist Supreme’, Accordion World 5 (November 1940), 16.
A short profile (with photo) of Boris.

Cooney, Michael. ‘Teach In: How to Find, Train, and Maintain a Concertina’, Sing Out! 20 (March/April 1971), 5-6.
Notes that Boris advertised a five-week concertina course in the Village Voice (a New York weekly) for which he used Wheatstone concertinas (p. 5).

Gabriel, Thomas. ‘The Russian Virtuosi in America: An Interview with Sergei Matusewitch’, Concertina & Squeezebox 21 (Autumn 1989), 4-10.
Sergei reminisces about the Matusewitch family.

Horowitz, Joshua. ‘The Klezmer Accordion: Old New Worlds (1899-2001)’, Musical Performance 3 (2001), 135-62.
Includes a discussion of Gregory as ‘one of the finest of the early Yiddish music accordionists [sic]’ (pp. 137-40, 145) and two European photos of Gregory.

International Concertina Association. Newsletter 155 (June 1968).
Mentions that Neil Wayne, then resident at the University of Wisconsin, ‘has been fortunate enough to spend an afternoon with Sergei Matusewitch, one of the famous concertina playing brothers’.

Jacobs, Kathleen. ‘Old World to New’, Manhattan Plaza News (April 1997), 1, 10-11.
Sergei, who lived in New York’s Manhattan Plaza (limited to performing artists and their families), discusses his musical family; includes photos of Sergei and Gregory.

Matusewitch, Boris. ‘The Growth of the Concertina in the USA’, Accordion and Guitar World 23 (December 1958), 30.
Discusses the growing popularity of the English concertina in the USA.

Matusewitch, Eric. ‘Boris Matusewitch’, Mugwumps 7 (June 1983), 14-15.
Review (with photo) of Boris’s career.

_____. ‘Gregory Matusewitch’, Mugwumps 7 (August/September 1983), 10-11.
Review (with photo) of Gregory’s career.

_____. ‘The Matusewitch Family: Concertina and Accordion Virtuosi—Russia, Europe and the United States’, (1997), also online at the Classical Free Reed website: essays/matusewitch.html.
A history of the family, with photos of Gregory, Boris, Sergei, and Eric.

_____. ‘Pilat and Panzeri, Love Me Tonight, arranged for English Concertina by Boris Matusewitch’, Free-Reed Journal 4 (2002), 162-65.
A brief review of Boris’s career, focusing on his concertina arrangements; includes his arrangement of a popular song by Pilat and Panzeri.

Merris, Randall C. ‘Instruction Manuals for the English, Anglo, and Duet Concertina’, Free-Reed Journal 4 (2002), 85-118; also online at, where it is periodically updated.
Lists two instruction manuals for the English concertina by Boris and Sergei (pp. 94-95).

Palmer, Bill. ‘Should Accordionists Play Bach?’ Accordion World 14 (April 1949), 9; also online at Classical Free-Reed website:
Mentions that Sergei performed J.S. Bach’s Toccata in D Minor (originally for organ) at his concerts.

‘Piano-Accordion’s Distant Relative: The Concertina’, Accordion World 1 (April 1936), 18.
Profile (with photo) of Gregory Matusewitch.

Tarte, Bob. ‘Forces of Nature’, Beat 21 (2002); online at
Includes a review of the Global Accordion—Early Recordings (Weltmusik Wergo; see §VII), and writes of Gregory’s virtuosity as being ‘extraordinary in his performance of “Yidisher Melodien” on piccolo accordion [sic!]’.

Taubman, Howard. ‘No Amateurs, These GI Joes’, New York Times (June 18, 1944), section 2, p. 5.
Howard Taubman, music critic for the Times—and then a private in the army—writes about musicians in the Special Service Training Group at Camp Sibert, Alabama, including Pvt. Boris Matusewitch, ‘virtuoso of the concertina’.

Wakker, Willem. ‘De Matusewitch Familie’ (Pts. 1-3) Klank (January, July, October, 1999); online at
A history of the Matusewitch family (in Dutch).

Wallace, Ed. ‘Twist Its Arm and It Squeals—but Nice’, New York World Telegram and Sun (December 1, 1952), 3.
Profile (with photo) of Boris.

III. Select Concert Notices and Reviews in English

(a) Gregory

Adams, Franklin P. ‘The Conning Tower’, The World (March 4, 1922), 11.
The famed literary figure wrote a favorable review of Gregory’s February 25, 1922, Town Hall (New York) recital.

‘Again Scores Success Here with his Concertina: Gregory Matusewitch is Heard at Alliance’, Savannah [Georgia] Morning News (February 17, 1930).

‘Artist Excels on Concertina’, Houston Post-Dispatch (January 27, 1928).
Short review of Gregory’s January 26, 1928, concert at the Houston Jewish Institute.

Bennett, Grena. “Concertina Recital,” New York American (December 27, 1926).
Brief review of Gregory’s December 26, 1926, Town Hall recital; Bennett wrote that ‘the unusual and delightful instrument was manipulated by Gregory Matusewitch. Handel’s E-major sonata, as it sounded, might have been performed by an orchestra of eight musicians so fully and colorfully harmonized were its four movements’.

‘Concert Will be Given: Jewish Musician to Appear in High School Auditorium Tuesday’, South Bend [Indiana] Tribune (January 24, 1927), 7.
Notes that Gregory (here called ‘George’) has appeared in many cities and that newspaper critics have been ‘highly laudatory’ in their reviews; he is described as having ‘complete mastery of the instrument’ and his performances as drawing large audiences.

Downes, Olin. ‘Gives Concertina Recital’, New York Times (December 27, 1926), 20.
Review of December 26, 1926, Town Hall recital; Downes found that ‘[t]he great range of tone color he produced and his complete mastery gave variety and interest to the four movements [of the Handel sonata in E major]’.

‘Famed Artist on Concertina is Coming Here: Gregory Matusewitch to Appear on Thursday Night’, Erie [Pennsylvania] Dispatch-Herald (February 15, 1927).

‘Gave Splendid Program for Concertina Concert’, Norwich, Connecticut, Bulletin (February 19, 1931).
Favorable review of Gregory’s February 18, 1931, recital sponsored by the Workmen’s Circle.

‘Matusevitz and His Concertina’, Savannah [Georgia] Morning News (January 18, 1928).
A review of Gregory’s January 17, 1928, recital at the Jewish Educational Alliance; the critic exclaimed that ‘[p]laying with a virtuosity that was not short of wonderful, the artist produced music from his small instrument that the writer of these lines could never believe it contained’.

‘Matusewitch Gives Brilliant English Concertina Recital’, New York Herald Tribune (December 27, 1926), 8.
‘At Town Hall yesterday afternoon [December 26, 1926] there was a concert comprising both those rare and invigorating qualities of novelty and complete virtuosity. Gregory Matusewitch showed an astonished and delighted audience that the English concertina, played as he can play it, has a right to be designated a major solo instrument’.

‘Matusewitch Recital’, Accordion World 1 (December 1936), 6.
Reviews Gregory’s recital of November 21, 1936, at Wurlitzer Auditorium (New York), at which he was assisted by his sons, Boris and Solomon (Sergei).

‘Not So Lonely Concertina’, The World (December 27, 1926), 12.
Brief review of Gregory’s December 26, 1926, recital at New York’s Town Hall. The music critic wrote: ‘Under the miraculous manipulation of Gregory Matusewitch, the lowly concertina becomes idealized so that such music as Handel’s E-major sonata. . .emerges as though from the stop of an organ’.

‘“Out All Night” at the Colony’, New York Telegram (September 26, 1927).
Notice of Gregory’s performance at the Colony Theatre, New York; the author writes that Gregory Matusewitch, ‘virtuoso of the miniature English concertina, causes it to emit a startingly versatile collection of sounds’.

‘Russian Café Offers Treat’, New York American (December 7, 1932).
Mentions that Gregory Matusewitch, ‘virtuoso of the concertina’, will be playing at the Russian Art Restaurant in New York on December 11, 1932 (a benefit for the New York American Christmas and Relief-Fund); includes a photo of Gregory.

(b) Boris and Sergei

‘Brothers Matusewitch’, International Musician (March 1952).
Short review of the Matusewitch brothers’ joint recital at Carnegie Recital Hall, February 16, 1952. The critic wrote that Sergei ‘has revealed himself as a sensitive and finished artist, capable of producing unusual musical effects’.

‘Empire Room Headliners’, Chicago Sunday Tribune (February 8, 1953), Pt. 7, p. 13.
Notice that the ‘novelty duo’ of Gregory and Strong will be playing at the Empire Room of the Palmer House Hotel, Chicago; includes a caricature of the concertina-dance team. (Note that Boris dropped the name Matusewitch and used Gregory only in his nightclub act with Rod Strong.)

‘First Civic Music Presentation Hailed as Success by Audience’, Panama City [Florida] Herald (November 3, 1955).
The music critic noted that ‘[a]rtistry and entertainment of the highest caliber were combined last night by dancer Rod Strong and concertina virtuoso Boris Gregory’.

‘Going Out Guide: Bach on Concertinas’, New York Times (August 19, 1981), section C, p. 15.
Notes that Sergei and Randy Stein (Sergei’s student) will play Bach’s Double Violin Concerto on two concertinas with the Balalaika Symphony Orchestra (Seaside Park, Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, New York).

Herron, Paul. ‘On the Town’, Washington Post and Times Herald (May 24, 1954).
Writes that Boris Gregory and Rod Strong are headliners at the Harlequin Room of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Washington, D.C. ‘Our advice is to stay for the second show, too. The act is unusual and you probably won’t appreciate it as much the first time as the second go-round’.

Johnson, Harriet. ‘Review of New York Philharmonic International Promenade Concert’, New York Post (June 12, 1970), 49.
Boris supplied the music for a ballet choreographed by dancer Edward Villela (Off to Sea Once More); Johnson took note of Boris’s nautical stage costume: ‘Boris Matusewitch, a sea-hippie, was there with his concertina to add sights and sounds to life on deck and in port’.

‘Matusewitch Recital’, Accordion World 4 (June 1939), 20.
Short review of a recital by Boris and Sergei at the Rand School Auditorium in New York: ‘The appreciation with which these two artists were regarded left no doubt that they were indeed masters of their favorite instruments, and doing much to make them popular’.

‘Mozart for Accordion’, New York Times (January 18, 1980), section C, p. 18.
Notice of Sergei’s January 19, 1980, recital in the Bruno Walter Auditorium of the Lincoln Center Library-Museum for the Performing Arts.

‘Play Musical Shorts’, New York World-Telegram (Nov. 14, 1952), 23.
Notes that Boris and his dance partner, Rod Strong, ‘will make a series of musical shorts after they complete their present engagement at the Persian Room of the Plaza Hotel, New York City’.

Sobol, Louis. ‘New York Calvacade: Along Prattle-Tattle Lane’, New York Journal-American (November 15, 1952), 11.
Sobol writes, ‘The team of Boris Gregory and Rod Strong at the Plaza Persian Room—one plays the concertina while the other leaps around and dances like mad’.

‘Soldier Shows’, Army Times (?1944).
Notes that ‘the nation’s outstanding concertina artist’ (Boris Matusewitch) will play Cole Porter’s Begin the Beguine and Fritz Kreisler’s Caprice Viennois.

‘Television Reviews: Sight and Sound’, Variety (September 23, 1953).
Short notice that Boris Gregory, ‘the sensational concertina virtuoso, and dancer Rod Strong have been booked for a return engagement on NBC-TV’s ‘Your Show of Shows’ next month’.

‘Two Matusewitches in Musical Program’, New York Times (January 25, 1948).
Review of joint recital in Times Hall, New York, January 24, 1948. ‘The concertina. . .being primarily a melodic instrument, of haunting quality, capable of delicate inflection, nuance and even vibrato. . .His rendition of Mr. [Robert] Lissauer’s works had charm and melody, and the composer added his applause to that of the audience’.

‘Up Front: Lively Music’, New York Post (May 18, 1979).
Notice of Sergei’s May 20, 1979, recital at the Priory concert hall; the program included transcriptions of works by Bach, Mozart, Rachmaninoff, Paganini, Liszt, and Chopin.

Walker, Danton. ‘Broadway: Neon Nites’, Sunday Daily News (November 16, 1952), section 2, p.11.
‘The new nite club combo of Rod Strong and Boris Gregory fits in wonderfully with the background of the Persian Room. But how about letting Boris, who’s touted as the world’s leading concertina virtuoso, have at least one solo, instead of being merely background for handsome and nimble Rod’s dancing?’

IV. Music Written for Concertina and Accordion

(a) Gregory

Oriental, Op. 3, No. 1, for concertina. Arr. J.G. Samos (New York: I. Press and G. Matusewitch, 1928).

(b) Sergei

Artiste Fantasie (A Classic Composition in Modern Concert Style for the Piano Accordion) (Brooklyn, NY: Warner Publications, 1937).

Capriccioso (Classic Accordion Solo) (Brooklyn, NY: Warner Publications, 1947).

Etude in D Minor (A New Concert Bellow Shake Etude in Modern Concert Style for the Piano Accordion) (Brooklyn, NY: Warner Publications, 1942).

V. Boris on Broadway

Fanny (November 1954–December 1956), directed by Joshua Logan, music by Harold Rome, Majestic and Belasco Theatres.
Boris played concertina in the orchestra; his wife (and former student), Norma, substituted for him while he was touring with dancer Rod Strong.

How to Be a Jewish Mother (December 1967–January 1968), based on the book by Dan Greenberg, music by Michael Leonard, Hudson Theatre.
Boris played concertina in the orchestra.

They Knew What They Wanted (October 2-21,1939), play written by Sidney Howard, Empire Theatre.
Music performed by Boris (concertina) and Rosito Anthony (singer/guitarist); listed on the Internet Broadway Database:

The Wall (October 1960–March 1961), based on the novel by John Hersey, directed by Morton Da Costa, featuring songs by Robert De Cormier and Millard Lampell, Billy Rose Theatre.
Boris played the concertina offstage for actor George C. Scott.

Wisteria Trees (March-September 1950), based on The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov, directed by Joshua Logan, musical arrangements by Lehman Engel, Martin Beck Theatre.
Boris played concertina in the orchestra.

VI. A Television Appearance by Boris

Your Show of Shows, NBC-TV (September 13, 1952).
Boris Gregory and dancer Rod Strong performed on the popular show starring Sid Caesar.

VII. Recordings: Gregory, Boris, and Sergei

(a) Gregory

The English Concertina. Compiled and annotated by Richard Carlin. Folkways Records FW 8845 (1976).
Includes selections by Gregory Matusewitch (V. Monti’s Czardas) and The Boris Matusewitch Quartet (Scott Joplin’s Chrysanthemum).

Global Accordion: Early Recordings. Compiled by Christoph Wagner. Wergo SM 1623 2 (2001).
Gregory plays Yiddisher Melodien.

Gregori Matusewitch. Circulated privately either as a tape or CD, this contains previously recorded selections: Zigeunerweisen (Odeon A 10212-A, Germany), Serenade (Victor 73616), Czardas and London Polka (Victor 9035), Yiddisher Melodien and Yiddisher Wulach (Odeon A 10212-A).

(b) Boris

Fanny. A musical play by S.N. Behrman and Joshua Logan; music and Lyrics by Harold Rome. RCA Victor LOC-1015 (1954).
Boris plays concertina in the orchestra of this original cast album.

Around the Samovar. Leonid Bolotine and Orchestra. Warner Bros. Records W1255 (1959).
Boris played concertina in the orchestra in this recording of Russian folk music.

(c) Sergei

Accordion-Concertina Recital. S-M Records, S M 002 (no date).
Includes selections by Frosini, Sarasate, Brahms, J.S. Bach, Massenet, Tchaikovsky, Gluck, and Monti.

VIII. Concertina Instruction Manuals

Matusewitch, Boris Gregory and Sergei. Matusewitch Associates 5 Week Course for the English Concertina (New York: Matusewitch Associates, c. 1965).

_______. Method for the English Concertina (New York: Matusewitch Associates, 1952).
A copy at the Library of Congress.

IX. Miscellaneous

Matusewitch, Gregory. Publicity Brochure (1920s).
Includes excerpts from his European and American concert reviews and a photograph; listed on the International Concertina Association website, Reuben Shaw Archive, Item #RS002:

Matusewitch Associates, “Five Week Course: Concertina’, Village Voice (November 23, 1972), 46.
The brothers’ standard newspaper advertisement for their concertina course; it ran regularly in the Village Voice and New York Times from the 1950s to 1970s.