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Guido Deiro 1928 Sound Film on DVD

Guido Deiro Vitaphone Poster

Count Guido Pietro Deiro (1886-1950)--the Italian-American accordion virtuoso, composer and recording artist-- was a major force in the popularization of the accordion during the early twentieth century. A vaudeville star by 1910 (he taught his younger brother Pietro how to play the piano-accordion), he was the first piano-accordionist to make sound recordings and radio broadcasts.

Guido Deiro was also the first accordionist to be featured in a sound film. Vitaphone #2968, titled GUIDO DEIRO--The World's Foremost Piano-Accordionist, was filmed in Burbank California at the Warner Brothers studio in 1928, and shown in movie houses throughout the United States to critical acclaim. Today the DVD of this film has also received equally critical acclaim.

In this film Guido performs two pieces: (1) The Overture from I Capuleti ei Montecchi by the Italian opera composer Vincenzo Bellini (1801-1835), and (2) the Serenade from Les Millions D'Arlequin by the Italian composer and conductor Riccardo Drigo (1846-1930).

This film displays the great artistry, virtuosity, musicianship, and stage presence of the first great star of the piano-accordion at the age of 42 at the height of his fame. Notice in the introduction to Bellini's overture how Guido uses his left-hand air button (or bar) to close his bellows in order to be better situated for the next passage. In those days accordion air-button valves were much larger and allowed a great deal of air to pass through quickly.

During Drigo's Serenade Guido uses his augmented chord buttons in the left hand, as he was one of the few accordionists to own such an accordion with an extra row of augmented chord buttons. Look carefully and you will see the black cloth Guido used to protect his tuxedo pants from wear and tear by the bellows.

Although this film is short by contemporary standards (a little more than six minutes), it is of great musical and historical interest, as it shows in no uncertain terms the greatness of the man who in 1910 inaugurated the fifty-year Golden Age of the Accordion.

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I have just received the Guido Deiro DVD and it surpassed my expectations. How artistically he plays and with what great musicianship - and with what love for music! I said to myself, "He just had to be an Italian."

I have already written a nice piece about this DVD for the next newsletter of mine - but now I'm going to add three riders to the article: 1) It's a must-have; 2) the performances are absolutely wonderful, especially when you consider Deiro's instrument must have been far more difficult to play than today's accordions; and 3) the editor highly recommends it!

Amongst the pioneers of the accordion movement, I myself now prefer Guido Deiro to Magnante - I don't really know why but maybe it's just that Deiro's extreme musicianship and great artistry on a difficult-to-play accordion tip the balance for me.

Roger Nightingale, Secretary
Waikato Accordion Club
Te Awamutu, New Zealand

It was so interesting to see and hear Guido´s playing. I really felt the wings of the accordion history when I viewed the film.

Also the quality was quite good for such an old film. I looked at it via our LCD-projector and the quality was good, and the film restorer had managed to get the sound well synchronized with the picture.

Håkan Widar
Varberg, Sweden

Really impressed with the Guido video. Does more bass work than I imagined for that time period. Hope there will be DVD releases of others like Carrozza, Magnante, Galla-Rini, Molinari.

Heinz Siemens
Kitchener, Ontario

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