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Accordion History and Culture Lecture

Rob Curto has spent over 25 years immersed in the musical and cultural world of the accordion. He has mastered both the Piano Accordion and one of the many diverse systems of diatonic accordion, the B/C box, exploring traditions as diverse as Northeastern Brazilian music and the traditional music of Ireland. 


In this presentation, Rob will discuss the ways in which the history of the accordion reflects the great migrations and economic changes of the past two centuries, as well as the status of the instrument as an icon and symbol of various cultures. To quote Rob’s teacher and mentor, the great Billy McComiskey, “instruments become part of cultures”. 


Rob draws upon his extensive experience within Brazilian, Irish, Klezmer and other musical worlds, to bring the accordion alive, with history, personal anecdotes and musical demonstration. Participants will come away with a greater appreciation of the 

broad and diverse impact of the accordion.


19th century French "flutina" or early model of accordion


Hohner accordions mail order advertisement from 1931


Rob performing with the great Brazilian accordionist Dominguinhos

With Chiquinha Gonzaga, sister of the legendary Luiz Gonzaga and an excellent button accordionist and singer

in her own right. 


Rob's mentor, Irish button accordion player Billy McComiskey

Rob performing Forró music in Recife, Brasil with master of the 8-bass diatonic accordion, Arlindo dos Oito Baixos.

The King of Zydeco, Clifton Chenier. Zydeco is the music of the Creole/African-American

community in Southwest Louisiana. Rob has shared festival stages with Clifton's son, the great C.J. Chenier. 

Luiz Gonzaga, the King of Forró, or "Rei do Baião" who revolutionized the music of the Northeast of Brazil, and forever influenced the trajectory of Brazilian Popular Music.

With Billy McComiskey, at an Irish session in Baltimore, MD

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