Wiesner Bandoneon


In contrast to the established free-reed manufacturing centers like Saxony, or Black Forest, the harmonica makers in Bavaria were very small manufacturers producing hand crafted instruments on demand for the local market.

The name Wiesner is known for many free reed instrument makers in Munich. However, there is no evidence about their parentage. Maria Dunkel refers to Willibald Wiesner, Harmonikamacher, est. 1859, but also to Carl Wiesner, mentioned first in 1869. A company named Gebr. Wiesner, Konzertina und Harmonikamacher is known as of 1906 and which possibly belonged to the brothers Wilhelm and Josef. This manufacture survived World War I.

Josef Wiesner made bandoneons under his sign during the time from 1925 to 1942. He was known as very inventive, owning lot of registered patents concerning improvements of musical instruments. He constructed a bandoneon with a piano keyboard, presumably even before World War I. Also a disposal to play any bandoneon free hand, in a similar way to a symphonetta, is of his authorship.

The keyboard layout of the model shown below, is characterized as as Schrammelbandoneon. The Schrammel music has it's origin in a folk music style created by Johann and Josef Schrammel during the second half of the 19th century in Vienna and which influenced the folk music style of the surrounding regions including Slovenia, Hungary, Bavaria among others. The development of the keyboard layout started from the 130 voice rheinische Lage to which new keys were added, but in a different manner than for the Argentinian type.

Each note is produced in this model by 2 reeds. However, the sound differs clearly from dual reed instruments used in tango: There is no dry character and sounds far softer. The reason is because of the different construction:

The bass instrument side differs from the usual instruments in the lack of a dumper box. The dumper mutes the high partials of the bass and produces a soft sound similar to a cello. The sound of the overlapping range of notes from the left and right side does not differ significantly.

The large dimension of the cabinet compared with other dual simplifies the building of instrument variants with 3 or even more reeds per note. Also it may have influence on the sound color comparable to a damper case.

Furthermore the tuning is done with a pronounced tremolo, for at least all the bandoneons I heard in Bavaria. The softer sound is requested not to disturb other silent instruments used in Bavarian ensembles, typically formed by two violins, double necked counter guitar, clarinet, double bass.

The pictures below are taken from a Josef Wiesner instrument belonging to Alois Scheungrab of Ampfing near Mühldorf am Inn (Oberbayern), the last living pupil of the virtuoso Georg Weinschütz of Munich (died in 1948).
The last two pictures are basically also a Wiesner instrument, but the cabinet was rebuilt by his owner, Alois Scheungrab. Note the heavy construction and the covered valve lever at the treble side.

Alfred Arnold Chemnitzer Concertina in "Scheffler'sche Lage", build in 1932. Three reeds per button on the right side, two or three per button on the bass-side. In total there are 52 buttons and 104 tones.

General view of the instrument from the treble side Color JPEG, (40792 bytes), 497x347
Close-up of the reeds and the leathers Color JPEG, (36678 bytes), 499x351
View from the top showing 'Alfred Arnold' metal plate Color JPEG, (28926 bytes), 500x344
General view on the reeds Color JPEG, (40308 bytes), 492x345
Front view on the belly Color JPEG, (52075 bytes), 498x347
General view on the wooden mechanics under the buttons Color JPEG, (33991 bytes), 497x345
View on the inside of the belly Color JPEG, (25406 bytes), 503x345
Close-up of the buttons Color JPEG, (32497 bytes), 503x345

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