Henry Doktorski is one of the leading concert accordionists in the United States and a recognized figure in international classical accordion circles.
He was the first-place winner in the American Accordion Musicological Society Virtuoso Solo Competition (1990: King of Prussia, Pennsylvania) and since then has delighted hundreds of thousands with his tasteful and sophisticated musical interpretations, including performances on accordion with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Tanglewood Festival Orchestra, the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, the New Philharmonic Orchestra (Glen Ellyn, Illinois), the Northwest Indiana Symphony (Merrillville, Indiana), the Loudoun County Symphony (Leesburg, Virginia), the Butler County Symphony (Pennsylvania), the Wartburg Community Symphony (Waverly, Iowa), the McKeesport Symphony (Pennsylvania), the Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic, the Duquesne University Contemporary Ensemble, the River City Brass Band (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), Pittsburgh's Civic Light Opera Orchestra, and the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, in addition to radio and television appearances.
Besides classical music, Mr. Doktorski is equally adept at popular and international music as well, and performs for private parties, receptions and special events such as Oktoberfest celebrations. His extensive repertoire ranges from Bach, Brahms and Piazzolla to Gershwin, Mancini and tunes from hit Broadway musicals and Hollywood movies like The Sound of Music, Fiddler on the Roof and Titanic.
He has recorded with the Cleveland Chamber Symphony and the Pittsburgh Symphony (you can hear him on the Sony Classical hit CD Cinema Serenade with violinist Itzhak Perlman) and was the featured soloist on six compact discs:
- Ave Maria: Hymns to Mary (solo album),
- Celebrated Polkas by Pietro Deiro (solo album),
- Vaudeville Accordion Classics (solo album),
- Classical Accordion Recital (solo album),
- Music by George Gershwin with the Duquesne Chamber Players, and
- A Classical Christmas with the Pittsburgh Chamber Orchestra.
Mr. Doktorski serves as Instructor of Accordion on the faculty of The City Music Center at Duquesne University, and formerly served for two seasons as Instructor of Accordion at the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He is the founder of The Classical Free-Reed, Inc. -- a nonprofit educational organization devoted to the accordion and classical music. He is in demand as a recitalist and clinician and often presents concerts and workshops at national and regional accordion conventions. He has performed at the Coupe Mondiale in Alexandria, Virginia, and in Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Duluth, Fairbanks, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, New York City, Orlando, Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Waverly, Iowa, and Wheeling, West Virginia. Doktorski also teaches accordion students, from beginners to advanced professionals.
During a radio interview on WQED-FM, Mr. Doktorski said, "I never tire of performing classical pieces on the accordion -- both transcriptions and original works -- for audiences, however small. It really gives me a thrill when I watch the faces in the crowd. Initially, I see indifference or skepticism or outright joking; but after the first few bars, I see amazement. Then after a minute or two, I see enjoyment. Most people simply have not been exposed to the possibilities of the instrument."
For sample recital or concert programs, click on Repertoire.
About Doktorski's AccordionHenry Doktorski plays a Victoria "Emperor"-model piano-accordion with a left-hand quint convertor/free-bass system built in Italy in 1978 and custom-tuned to A-440 by the Canadian accordion technician Leo Niemi. It weighs 31.5 lbs. The instrument contains 552 individual Swedish blue-steel free-reeds which encompass a total range from E1 to C8 (81 pitches, nearly seven octaves).
The right-hand manual has 44 keys, F3 to C7, (3 ½ octaves) consisting of four 44-note ranks of reeds (in pipe organ parlance: one low 16-foot rank sounding one octave lower than written, two middle 8-foot ranks sounding as written, and one high 4-foot rank sounding one octave higher than written) thereby effectively increasing the range of the right-hand manual from F2 to C8 (5 ½ octaves). Total reeds in the right-hand manual: (44 x 4) x 2 = 352. Eleven stops activate preset combinations of reed ranks. Two ranks of reeds (one 16-foot and one 8-foot) are contained in a wooden chamber (cassotto) to create a darker tone. The "violin" stop (two unison 8-foot ranks of reeds) is tuned "dry."
The left-hand manual has 140 buttons arranged in seven rows consisting of eight 12-note ranks of reeds encompassing a range from E1 to B5 (4 ½ octaves). The seventh row consists of pedal bass notes, one octave below the fundamental bass row. (Most accordions have C2, or sometimes A1 as their lowest note.) Total reeds in the left-hand manual: (24 + 24 + 36 + 16) x 2 = 200. (Some pitches are duplicated as free-bass and stradella do not always share the same reeds, and the pedal notes sound in octaves.)
The left-hand manual has ten stops which activate preset combinations of reed ranks: seven stops for the traditional stradella system (bass and chords) and three stops for the free-bass system (single notes or melody-bass). Some reviewers have called Doktorski's instrument "the Stradivarius of Accordions."