The History of
A l l o d i   A c c o r d i o n s
New Instruments     Secondhand Instruments

CLICK ON either of the links below to go to the BBC's One Show
FEATURING suggs interview at ALLODI ACCORDIONS LTD or


aClick on accordion

Please click on Allodi Accordions Interview to view film 
made by Vanluke Watson on Vimeo.  

B R U N O   A L L O D I
1 July 1915 - 25 July 2006

The picture (left) shows the dashing, young Italian accordionist, Bruno Allodi, at a time when he was one of Italy's most promising talents.   Bruno, born 1 July 1915, was determined to learn to play the accordion and he would settle for being no less than the very best.  In a quiet, sleepy hamlet called San Ilario, Felino, near Parma, Italy, this young man started a fascinating and fulfilling life that he could not even have begun to imagine from such humble beginnings.

As a young boy he would take the tram to his music lessons across the Italian countryside and dream of becoming a famous accordionist.  Later, when he owned a bicycle, he would travel for days to play a "gig" - a  far cry from the way the music scene operates these days!  Yet he remembered every small detail till the day he died, with pride and affection.  From a very early age Bruno worked with his father at carpentry, building and whatever was needed all the while saving for the treasured accordion lessons, alongside his friends and fellow students Gigi Stock and Nando Monica.  Bruno was always remarkably resourceful, creative, practical and imaginative, in literally all walks of life, no matter how basic the materials or how limited the finances.

This is the story of Bruno Allodi and his family, their journey to England from Parma, Italy; their small beginnings in North London and the birth and growth of the Allodi Accordions Limited that we know today.

Bruno is greatly missed by his family everyday and by all who knew him.

SoloRina.jpg (20704 bytes)Allodi Accordions is a well established family business that has endured some 65 years.  It started with Bruno, Emilio's father, who opened an accordion sales and repair shop in Mountgrove Road, North London with his wife Rina (pictured right, aged 19) and their then only son, Claudio;  Emilio followed later, born here in London. The two brothers, Claudio and Emilio, were both talented and passionate about music even as small children.  Claudio became a professional accordionist and accordion teacher.   Emilio, although an accomplished accordionist and pianist up until the age of 18, opened his branch of the business in South London in 1978.  Since his twenties, Emilio has played bass guitar professionally in addition to running his own shop and teaching accordion and piano in the early years.

  Bruno and children Claudio & Emilio with their accordions in the garden of their homeThe young newleyweds- Rina & Bruno Allodi

The picture left, shows Bruno with his two young sons at their North London home in the days before he had achieved his ambition of an accordion business of his own.  Post war Italy offered little or no work, and Bruno, after a severe and debilitating illness did not possess the strength to continue playing as before.  He and his brother Umberto, mentioned further down, were well known and respected in the Italian accordion world when someone came over from England, scouting for an instrument expert, Bruno was the perfect choice.   Bruno also supplemented his income by working as a carpenter/builder, skills he excelled in....      (pictured 1943)

The two larger instruments you see played by Bruno and Claudio pictured left were made in the kitchen of their home.  The shop in North London quickly went from strength to strength; this was in no small part due to the support he had from his wife Rina.  Arriving in England a year or so after Bruno with savings of just 5 between them and unable to speak a word of English, she quickly made herself the hub of the family and business plan.   No task was too big or too small; all this besides running the home and bringing up their two boys.   Her day frequently involved cleaning and re-valving reeds along with other essential skills involved in the maintenance of the accordion.  She possessed a fine creative talent all her own, not only in ideas pertaining to the accordion; aged around 70 she discovered an ability for water colour painting, and we have a treasure trove of her work hung around the family home!  Rina passed away in December 2003.  She had been very ill for some time and died shortly before her 84th birthday on the Christmas Eve.  She is sadly missed by us all.

BJul2000.jpg (56820 bytes)The photograph on the left was taken by a regular visitor and friend, Ken Hopkins (a man with a truly huge collection of pre-war instruments) in July 2006 after hours of chatting about the accordion with Bruno.  He very kindly presented us with this snapshot and we only then realised that Bruno had been playing the very same  accordion he had made totally by hand  as used in the black and white picture on the left above, forty five years later!

Bruno at work in a London accordion factory in the 1950's
The photo shows Bruno in one of the London accordion specialist centres he worked in as a tuner and repairer.
Bruno pictured right working at the Accordion Development Centre, North London in 1954.

It was a source of great joy to his parents when from a very early age both Claudio and Emilio showed the desire and ability to follow in their father's musical footsteps.  Claudio became a superb one man entertainer as well as running his own band for many years to date.  Although Emilio has always been a part of that band, he focused mainly on building up his own shop and perfecting the repairing of the instruments under the guiding hand of his father.   
The Bruno Allodi Shop in Mountgrove Road, N5.
 
The Allodi family outside the shop in North London.  

Emilio has a stack of memories of life in the shop in North London; his father teaching, repairing and of course, playing the accordion.  Over the years, literally thousands of customers and enthusiasts would come to his father for help.  On many occasions, the more audacious have been known to ring the doorbell after 10pm at night, when suddenly faced with the emergency of a broken reed whilst they were working in the North London area!  flacho.jpg (27172 bytes)

A fond memory from the Mountgrove Road shop days is that of a visit from the great Mexican player Flaco Jiminez with the BBC in 1984, pictured right with Bruno and Claudio.   Claudio recalls "he was one of the friendliest men I have ever met and I was stunned at his incredible technique."  Click on picture.

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<The picture left is yet another example of Bruno's limitless creativity and resourcefulness; he designed and made the toy car proudly driven by Claudio, just as he made their prams and buggies I am reliably informed.  Click on the picture to see it in full size and take a close look at the Super Salas accordion grill used on the front!  These Allodis' waste 'nuffin'!  For me however, it's the hat that gets it!   It is typically Italian and oh soooo scary!!! (Think Sopranos)!

The instruments you see with Umberto were made especially for him by SuperSalas in Stradella, Northern Italy.  The Bass system he used was a Belgian system with three extra rows of free bass allowing four octaves of single notes, and the one pictured on the right had extra reed blocks for those free bass reeds.  I hate these kinds of accordions coming in for repair, as I cannot lift them up to put them on the work bench without a crane!   

Bruno was one of two brothers.  Umberto Allodi, his younger brother (pictured) was for many years a top professional accordionist.  Indeed he was a consummate entertainer up until he died.  He was a large, booming man with a keen sense of fun who loved to tease and play tricks on the young Emilio in the summer holidays spent in Italy.  With his world class playing he achieved high status in Europe and made dozens of recordings, later establishing his own large, teaching school in La Spezia, Italy.  There was a fierce competitiveness between the two brothers in all that they did, and this served to make them very entertaining when together as often brothers are.  Bruno outlived his brother by many years and always spoke admiringly and with that special love only siblings have.  

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Busillachio Advert featuring Umberto Allodi
Following an introduction to Ildo Busilacchio, a leading Italian accordion manufacturer of the time, Bruno trained in his factory as a tuner, but he also took a greater and wider interest in the accordion as a whole.
  This helped equip him with enormous experience, leading him to make complete accordions at home, and therefore, with the passing of time, master all the principles of accordion manufacture.  He mastered every aspect of the instrument.  
Pictured left, Umberto at the Busilacchio factory
      
Pictured right, the Busilacchio emblem

The Busillachio emblem

Bruno & friend in war-time ItalyBruno and his brother studied music, specifically the accordion with Ubaldo Ferrari, a composer, conductor and famous band leader throughout Italy.  They professionally entertained the troops throughout much of the country during war time.  As young men they would cycle up into the Northern mountains and play for the villagers at their "festas"  (open air dances to you and me).  A wooden dance floor would be laid down and the people danced all night under the stars to the popular tunes of the time.  The picture left shows Bruno, ever with accordion, with some of his army regiment and friends in the 1940s.  Since that journey from Parma, Italy to England in 1951, Bruno has spent his life working with the accordion.  His professional playing career ended while in Italy due to illness where Rina lovingly nursed him back to eventual good health.  Having obtained his shop in Mountgrove Road, North London for his own accordion business as a result of his hard work, Bruno's talent was quickly apparent with him becoming known as the "maestro" and "craftsman"of the accordion, not just in London, but anywhere.  
Bruno at work in his own workshop in the 70's
Some would mistakenly think of the accordion as one of the instruments technology has passed by, but this is not so; upon the advent of electronic accordions back in the late sixties, Bruno began enthusiastically converting accordions brought to him by clients who wished to expand their instruments' potential in this way.  With his natural forte for engineering and ingenuity he was equally adept in this field, finding the neatest and most practical place on the instruments to install the electronics and also a joy in doing it.  For this multi-faceted and talented man, it was simply a natural progression.  

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picture left, Bruno's shop sign from 50s.    Till the day he died he would astound the family with his designs and innovative ideas for modifications to his beloved accordion.   Even as he reached his nineties, he would practise for 4-5 hours every day to master the most difficult passages of virtuoso pieces such as "La Gazza Ladra" by Rossini.  Despite being very frail by this time, as usual, he developed a way of being able to manouvre the accordion (which was a full size 120 bass double cassotto) into a comfortable playing position without strain.  This was achieved by carefully positioning furniture, cushions and an ingenious adaption to the shoulder straps meaning not requiring a back strap.  All this was to enable him to make some recordings of his playing to improve his technique and really get into the harmonics.
<

shopopen81.gif (58526 bytes)Many years have passed since Emilio first opened his own shop in Lewisham, South London in 1981, and it has since changed a great deal.  However, the Allodi tradition continues to be maintained.  Bruno's youngest son has perfected his skills.  His craftsmanship, experience, honesty and integrity are much sought after and renowned in the accordion world today more than ever.  Indeed, he is frequently visited by enthusiasts from other countries, as well as contributing to TV and radio programmes when expert information is needed.  In addition to his commitment to the largest stock of new and secondhand instruments anywhere in the United Kingdom, the shop provides an on-site repair facility, and the bulk of Emilio's time is spent restoring customers' much loved pieces.  Emilio Allodi repairing an accordion in his workshopThis can be a good and bad thing, as with a never ending workload, the queue for overhauls and repair work becomes longer and longer and any days off are usually spent at the workbench!  

Many customers and accordion enthusiasts find it really enjoyable to go to the workshop section and watch him work.  For the professional musician, the knowledge that Emilio can and will fix a problem, on the spot wherever possible, is a huge benefit.  Many of us face the dilemma of leaving our prized instruments to be sent away for repair with no certain knowledge of when they might return or what the cost will be.  Most of us feel the same way about any possession we cherish; we want to know that the person we leave it with to restore is trustworthy and capable of the job required, and without fear of any contradiction, there is no-one in the United Kingdom who will serve you better.

family1999.jpg (196007 bytes)Music shops on the whole can be intimidating places, especially for those who play only for pleasure or as a hobby, but Allodi Accordions is a warm and friendly environment where you can take as little or as long as you need to find your perfect instrument, or simply gain the advice you need.
 <Picture left - A proud family moment of the two Allodi generations.

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So many instruments to see ..... so many questions ....
so many accordions to try...... so many to choose from.... 
so much to learn ......
in a comfortable, non-pressurising atmosphere...

You are always made welcome at 
Allodi Accordions 

Watch your repair done for you while-u-wait on many occasions.  Mike fitting.... broken reeds ...
sticking notes.....

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All repairs done on the premises

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You may be lucky and meet up with the 
Cosmic
Sausages - An innovative band making use of the accordion's portability for their original and zany act.  Dan Teper is a frequent visitor to the shop.

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When the shop first opened, the high street was a very different place to that of today.  Many customers are pleased to find that this business has remained traditional and true to its roots.  With the advent of the Internet, expertise and advice is mostly lost to the click and collect method, where you are left to make the choices on your own without any advice or opportunity to try.  This is one of the largest cache of accordions located within one business.  Instruments of all makes, sizes and specifications literally line the walls.  

Emilio fully appreciates the needs of all his customers when selecting an instrument.  Buying any accordion can be a scary experience if you are met with indifference or a lack of patience and understanding of your needs.  Within a short time at Allodi Accordions however, you won't recall being apprehensive at all. 

Emilio recognizes the importance of taking time, and providing guidance, if wanted. He has little areas tucked out the way that allow those less experienced than others to play with freedom and experiment until they are confident that they have made the right choice with no pressure whatsoever.  Emilio's driving philosophy is that a business is only successful if you've attained a happy customer who will want to return to you in the future.  

If you do not play at all - no problem.  Emilio will be happy to demonstrate any instrument you wish to hear.  Indeed,  this is a vital part of the selection process.  As an example, a musette tuning is different from double octave tuning, or cassotto to non cassotto.  He will let you hear these differences and explain the terms so that you understand which is the best to suit you.   

If you would like more details of this kind, y
ou can click here and go to a section which gives information as clearly as possible.   So many new customers who come to the shop and already have instruments very often have no idea what specification of accordion they own because of a lack of information perhaps provided when they may have bought or inherited it.

Allodi Accordions Limited, continually striving to achieve excellence in all areas of service to the accordion players of the world, 
professional and amateur alike. 

RINA & BRUNO HIT THE HEADLINES!

"We Love Each Other" 
Declare Couple Married 55 Years

Bruno said ..... 
I played all the popular songs on my accordion.  I was very clever in choosing a wife.  I serenaded her under her bedroom window in our home town, Poggio di San Ilario,  Northern Italy.  

He continued ...One night, while playing, I saw someone peering through the curtains.  
So the next day, I went to the house.  Nothing!  She didn't say a word.  I'd played a beautiful song, but it didn't work.  

Rina said ... I had come to the window, but my father was on the floor below so I couldn't stay.  It was a pity I didn't hear more, but he has played for me many times since.  

She continued ... In summer, he'd play in gardens and people would come and 
bring meats and wine.  

I was just a young girl then, and he was my first love.

By Craig Taylor
 
taken from The Guardian Saturday, 8 March, 2002.

T
BRUNO, FATHER OF CLAUDIO AND EMILIO, AND FOUNDER OF 
ALLODI ACCORDIONS, WHO PASSED AWAY PEACEFULLY IN HIS SLEEP, 25 JULY 2006.  

HE IS RE-UNITED WITH HIS BELOVED WIFE, RINA IN PARADISO.

E con grande dolore che annunciamo che il nostro caro Bruno, padre di Claudio ed Emilio e fondatore 
di "Allodi Accordions" e' morto nel pomeriggio di martedi' il 25 luglio 2006 mentre dormiva. 

 
I make no apology for leaving these articles on the website even though Rina and Bruno are both no longer with us.  Their story is so touching, enduring and such a contrast to the world as we all know it today, that it is simply too special to remove. 

For us, they are still here and a part of our everyday lives because we remember so well and so often, the conversations, the traditional
meals, the various home-made furniture, gadgets and ideas, their loving personalities, unconditional support and of course, the music.  

Kim Allodi

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