The Montmagny World Accordion Festival

The accordion as we know it was invented about two hundred years ago in Europe, but for centuries before an instrument with a similar concept had been known in China. Encyclopedia Britannica says the accordion, a free reed portable musical instrument, was patented in 1822 under the name Handaoline by Friedrich Buschmann in Berlin, and in 1829 under the name Akkordion (German for harmony) by Cyril Demian in Vienna. 

The instruments with right-hand arrangement got named piano accordion and button accordion. As a result of extensive modifications to the left-hand manual, two basic types of accordion emerged: the stradella, traditionally associated with ethnic, folk, and pop music, and the free-bass accordion, developed mainly as a classical music instrument. The concertina, an instrument of the reed-organ family similar to the accordion (without a keyboard and with hexagonal ends), is mostly heard in traditional music.       

In Quebec, the button accordion, stradella, together with the fiddle and harmonica has been part of a repertoire of reels, jigs, and other dance pieces. French settlers brought with them not only their music, but also stories of the Père Zim, a legendary street musician from France, who became famous at the end of the 19th century. Nowadays in Quebec there is a festival in his honour, celebrating maple syrup producers.

In 1989, the Montmagny World Accordion Festival (Carrefour mondial de l’accordéon) first took place in the region of Chaudière-Appalaches with a mission to showcase all forms of the accordion and all musical styles associated with it. The Festival is an international event, mainly centered on presenting concerts. Its founder, Mr. Raynald Ouellet, is also a music teacher and a performer who played this instrument at concerts all over the world, as well as the founder of a musical instrument factory, the Accordéons Mélodie.

Thanks to the Festival, the accordion music in Quebec enjoys its revival. Every year during the Labour Day weekend, the Festival celebrates cultural diversity and offers its guests a unique chance to discover various musical styles: folk, classic, rock, jazz and popular repertoire. Thousands of music aficionados gather in Montmagny to enjoy the marvelous sound of the accordion. In 2007, for the first time guests of the Festival can take accordion classes before the major events.

Following the successful launch of the Festival, the Accordion Museum (Musée de l’accordéon) opened its doors with the help of the Montmagny municipality. Located in the Manoir Couillard-Dupuis, the Accordion Museum proudly houses a collection of 130 musical instruments, among them a rare melophone, a harmonieflute, and a unique type of bass.

The Montmagny World Accordion Festival’s website:

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