4. My early accordion years --------------------------------------------------- Previous - Next - Contents
All Bossa : by Michael Furstner

I had my first music lessons on recorder in the late 1940s when I was 10 or 12 years old. I vividly remember my very first lesson. My teacher, Mr. Lindeman sat me down at the table in our dining room at Martinshof and dictated to me "Wanneer wij liedjes zingen ....." ("When we sing songs ...."). I always remember these first few words, but have absolutely no idea what came after them. It was not long before my teacher saw some promise in me and got me an 80 bass piano accordion. I absolutely loved the instrument right from the start.

The accordion was in those early days just after the war the undisputed favourite instrument in Holland, especial in the country provinces. Forget the guitar, that was only for girls and sissies. The accordion was the instrument at all parties, weddings and dances on the farms and in community halls. A whole raft of Dutch songs were written to accommodate the instrument. Like "Daar bij die Molen ...." and "Op de sluizen, van IJmuiden, heb ik haar vaarwel gekust", many such as these two in intoxicating swirling waltz tempos. I played them all !

Playing my accordion I played every day on my instruments, but hated written music. I painstakingly battled through every new piece I had to learn just twice, not more, then knew it by heart and played it ever after from memory.
Often when leaving my teacher's house after my lesson I would pass a young girl coming in for her lesson also on accordion. I was too shy to speak to her so she remained a mystery girl.
Mr Lindeman had a nasty setback. An infection on his foot went horribly wrong and he landed up in hospital where eventually most of his leg was amputated. This did not diminish his energy however. Once back in action with his artificial leg he started traveling around the country side, setting up accordion bands in several of the rural villages. I was by this time one of his star pupils and when it was time for his bands to put up a public performance he used me as reenforcement in the front row on stage.

A week or so before the scheduled performance he would take me to one of the band rehearsals. There were few cars in those days so we always traveled by bus. We made a rather odd couple stepping out from the foggy darkness into the dim yellow lamp light at the bus stop. A man in a belted trench coat, Stetson hiding his eyes, stick in hand, limping slightly, next to a skinny youth with an alpino cap (dark blue barrette) pulled way over his right ear (imitating the Canadian soldiers) lugging a huge accordion case. A grotesque duo right out of a mystery tale.

”Grotie” my 

grandmother My grandmother ("Grotie") came to my very first performance in the village of Hengelo (Gld). At the Hall entrance door she was asked to raise her hand. As she did so the attended took it, turned it over and stamped SPOED ("Express") on the back of it. He apologetically replied to my grandmother's raised eyebrows, that this was to identified those who had paid in case they lost their ticket. This often happened, he continued, when the farmers after too much beer had to go outside for a leak.
My grandmother recalled this story many many times later during her life, easily outshining the one of her grandson's musical effort at the event.

I was joined on the stage by two or three friends with compatible skills. We would belt out each song with everything we had, while at the back a row of big farmhands were condemned to silence. With fingers easily covering two keys at once on the keyboard they were considered too risky performers. Therefore before the start each would stick a nail in the vent hole of their instrument (located near top of the left side). This allowed them to happily pull and squeeze their bellows without making any sound at all. They all had big smiles on their faces, looking around with no care in the world, which greatly impressed the audience. Meanwhile us in the front row did all the hard work. To add variation to the program, at selected points one of us would get up at the front of the stage and play a solo. I usually did two every performance. With Antien on our honeymoon, 1963

I thoroughly enjoyed these performances. I was guest player in two bands, one in Vorden, the other in Hengelo and performed in various villages and small towns in the region. I also went to a regional accordion competition and won both first price with one of the bands and as a soloist. I played an arrangement of American Patrol which had a few great left hand bass riffs in it I recall. The mystery girl was also at the event and put in a very creditable 3rd place performance.

After a few years however, when I was around 16, I gave up the music lessons and performances. Can't remember why. But later when I was at Uni I did meet up with the mystery girl again. Her name was Antien. She became a friend and fellow student at the Arnhem Art Academy of my sister Wivica and soon visited our house. I finally got up enough courage to ask her out to a party and a few years later we married.

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Copyright © 2010 Michael Furstner