Carlsfeld and the Bandoneon

Music Instruments from Saxony

The Musikwinkel or music corner is situated in the Vogtland, the southern region of Saxony. Here exists a long tradition in the manufacturing of wind and cord instruments. You can proof this fact visiting the Musikinstrumenten-Museum Markneukirchen with more than 1000 exhibition objects and a stock of 3000 units from the near vicinity and overseas.

The new invention or rediscovery of the free reed in the early 19$^{th}$ century inspired instrument makers all over Europe to make experiments for the invention of new musical instruments. In 1835 Carl Friedrich Uhlig constructed in Chemnitz a diatonic square headed bellow instrument he called Konzertina and which did not use predefined chords like Demian's accordion (Vienna, 1829) but instead single notes arranged in a fashion which allowed to play different harmonies. This instrument was an independent development from Sir Charles Wheatstone's Concertina (1829), and which was patented in 1844. It played chromatic scales and the notes were distributed to both hands. An overview of the historical development is given in The Bandoneon History.

Near 1848 Carl Friedrich Zimmermann founded a reed instrument manufacture in Carlsfeld and which turned out to be the basis for the glorious bandoneon industry for the town. The home of most bandoneons is indeed Carlsfeld in Saxony. After Heinrich Band died in 1860, the original Zimmermann's factory was sold in 1864 to Ernst Louis Arnold, a former coworker of Zimmermann, who continued to build the more popular bandoneons with up to 130 voices at that time. The great demand of these versatile and progressive instruments allowed to increase production making Carlsfeld to a center for the bandoneon industry. Alfred Arnold, one of Ernst Louis' sons was not fortunated to be the successor in spite of his efforts during his active time in his father's factory. He founded his own plant in 1911 in the same town as a competitor of his previous company. Alfred Arnold demonstrated to be the more effective merchant, particularly on the overseas market.
But after the first World War the production declined, but could be recovered in the late 20ties where the production reached the highest levels. During the Hitler regime the bandoneon was considered to be an instrument of the worker's class and was despected. The production continued only for export and most parts where submitted by other producers. Things did not improve after World War II so the interest in the bandoneon dropped in favor of the accordion which was available all over the world.

The last bandoneon left the Ernst Louis Arnold factory in 1964 and their craftsmen had to produce parts for diesel injection pumps. After the fall of the wall in 1989, the 1100 inhabitants of Carlsfeld began dreaming of a new bandoneon industry. But the original know how was lost and only a few of the old workers are still alive. Fortunately near by there works the big Harmona, accordion factory of Klingenthal which absorbed part of the original know how, together with highly specialized instrument makers, able to revive such production.
Many different instrument makers are currently working on how to make bandoneons with the sound of the original double reed Alfred Arnolds.


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last update: 2017-02-07

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