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A Short History of the Free-Reed Instruments in Classical Music

Demian's Accordion Patent

translated from archaic German by Karl and Martin Weyde

Note: Karl Weyde of Hamburg, who is experienced in archaic German handwriting, rendered the original German into modern German. His son, Martin, translated into English, and Henry Doktorski edited the English. Martin wrote, "This is no translation, it's a summary. The patent is written in archaic idioms and there is no guarantee on correctness. Any specialist of the Austrian language of the early 19th century is welcome to do a literal translation of the document."

German readers may go to to view the modern German translation. Special thanks to Dr. Herbert Scheibenreif for providing photocopies of the original document. The illustration on the left of Demian's accordion is from the archive of Dr. Alfred Mirek of Moscow.

Original Manuscript: Part One (17KB)
Prot: No. 111de 1838.
Priv: Reg: No. 1757.
of 23, May 1829.
|:1 Description, 1 Illustration and 1 Cover :|

Original Manuscript: Part Two (54KB)
To the highly commendable imperial royal general court chamber
Sent on May 15, 1829. 3 o'clock p.m.
Joseph Rosenfeld
Reggs Präs. Registrant
ad 20023. 1829.
ad 26391
Consig: No. 1433.
Description and Illustration
Demian Cyrill, together with both of his sons Karl and Guido, organ and piano makers, residing at Mariahilferstrasse No. 43 in Vienna, present a new instrument -- Accordion -- to the authorities. Its appearance essentially consists of a little box with feathers of metal plates and bellows fixed to it, in such a way that it can easily be carried, and therefore traveling visitors to the country will appreciate the instrument.

It is possible to perform marches, arias, melodies, even by an amateur of music with little practice, and to play the loveliest and most pleasant chords of 3, 4, 5 etc. voices after instruction.

Demian with both of his sons Karl and Guido
Received on May 11, 1829 at 5:30 p.m.
S. 26 / 2. M. Ritter v. . . .[Illegible Manuscript] . . . Director of protocol
Original Manuscript: Part Three (136KB)
Demian Cyrill and both of his sons, Karl and Guido, organ and piano makers, residing at Mariahilferstrasse No. 43 in Vienna, describe the characteristics of their newly invented instrument -- called Accordion -- this way.
1st In a box 7 to 9 inches long, 3 1/2 inches wide and 2 inches high, feathers of metal plates are fixed, which were known for more than 200 years as Regale, Zungen, Schnarrwerk, in organs.

2nd With bellows fixed to the above box and its 5 claves fixed below, even an amateur of music can play the loveliest and most moving chords of 3, 4 and 5 voices with very little practice.
3rd Each claves or key of this instrument allows two different chords to be heard, as many keys are fixed to it, double as many chords can be heard, pulling the bellows a key gives one chord, while pushing the bellows gives the same key a second chord.
4th As this instrument can be made with 4, 5 and 6 or even more claves, with chords arranged in alphabetical order, many well known arias, melodies and marches, etc. may be performed similar to the harmony of 3, 4 and 5 voices, with satisfaction of all anticipations of delicacy and vastly amazing comfort in increasing and decreasing sound volume.
5th The instrument is of the same size as the attached illustration, with 5 claves and 10 chords, not heavier than 32 to 36 Loth [1 Loth = approx. 16 g, MW], only if there are more chords will it become longer and some Loths heavier, so it is easy and comfortable to carry and should be a welcome invention for travelers, country and parties visiting individuals of both sexes, especially as it can be played without the help of anybody.
Vienna, the 6th of May, 1829 Cyrill Demian
Carl Demian
Guido Demian
Original Manuscript: Part Four (141KB)
Pulled Bellows
With the cover of the bellows, the entire instrument may be doubled, in order to play more chords or more single tones, in this case, keyboard, the bellows remain in the middle, while each hand controls in turn, either the claves or the bellows.

The above mentioned duplication of the instrument or adding more chords, would not make anything better to anybody, or give something new, as only the parts would increase, and the instrument more expensive and heavier.

After the present illustration, the instrument costs 12 to 16/M M, the difference in price results in a more elegant or worse-looking appearance.

We think that it is the most excellent innovation, that with one claves, a complete chord can be played.

Pushed Bellows

Outline and inside view of the Accordion


The present illustration is actual size, in which the instrument weighs little, not more than a pound, -- but if it needs to have some more chords it will always be around 3/4 inches with 2 chords . . . [Illegible Manuscript]

g h d f# c# are metal plates with feathers fixed below, respond to pulling the bellows; a c e g d plates with feathers fixed above, respond to pushing the bellows, so if a claves is pressed one chord responds to pulling, another chord to pushing, the bellows. The instrument is held with the left hand in such a way that the claves are below, and the 4 fingers can play on the claves as they wish. The right hand moves the bellows, not upwards, but sideways, and moving the bellows faster or softer result in the expression of piano through crescendo to forte.

Cyrill, Carl und Guido Demian
Original Manuscript: Part Five (31KB)

[Illegible Manuscript] . . . view of claves and valves, on the bottom which can be pushed exactly over the leathered strips a b c d e f, closing the inside wind chamber, so the expansion and penetration of the wind can only happen through the opened valves.

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