Bandoneon - Carlsfeld

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, not being the first of Ernst Louis' sons, did not become the successor, though having demonstrated his suitability. Instead, in 1911 he founded a new production plant in the same place to serve basically the overseas market, and becoming a successful competitor of his father.
But due to the First World War, the production of bandoneons rapidly declined. It took very long, until the end of the 20ties to recover the previous production levels, and in 1930 the highest. Alfred Arnold died in 1933, just the time when the Hitler regime came up: The bandoneon was considered a worker's class instrument and despised. Though the production continued, it was nearly only for export. Due to the war preparation, the provision of materials was restricted. Many parts previously produced in the own manufacture had, to be acquired from outside. The Dix company was now the provider of reeds. 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.