Scenes and stories from a small town in the hills of Italy's Le Marche region

(story cont'd from page 1)

Birth of the Bellows and the life of the Accordion

Soprani’s sons were captivated by this new discovery, especially the oldest son Paolo, who sat in awe listening to the new sounds emitted by this bizarre wooden contraption.

The pilgrim, seeing Paolo’s intense interest, gave it to him as a present. Paolo promptly began to take the new instrument apart in an attempt to find out what made it work.

While the story may be classified as legend, the encounter is recognized in Castelfidardo and surrounding areas as the first appearance of the accordion or fisarmonica in Italy, leading to a major economic boom in the Le Marche region.

Soprani began a small accordion workshop at home before opening a factory in the center of town. His goal was not to create new models of accordions but to improve upon Cyril Damian’s original Viennese patent and make the instrument more aesthetically pleasing with a richer sound that would translate better into Italian popular music.

French accordion professional Antonio Franzoso--by Averyl Dunn


Remembering his encounter with the pilgrim, Paolo began to peddle his wares outside the church in Loreto to people traveling there from all over Europe. Soprani’s innovations were extremely popular, and his factory flourished.

The growth of the accordion industry in Castelfidardo prompted other innovators to follow. Soon factories were established in nearby Macerata, Stradella, Camerano and even a few more in Castelfidardo, including one opened by his brother Settimio in 1872.

Orders arrived from all over Italy and from America, where Italian immigrants’ homesickness was eased by the familiar sounds of the accordion. The demand gave Soprani the opportunity to expand his operation. In 1900, with the help of his sons Luigi and Achille, Soprani opened a new factory, which immediately employed 400 people from all over the province.

Through his innovations, Soprani began an industrial revolution in Castelfidardo and surrounding areas, where the accordion industry became an engine of the regional economy. Soprani eventually died in 1918 at the age of 73, leaving his factory to his sons. But his legacy is scattered throughout the Le Marche region, in the many factories established after his.

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