The History of
A l l o d i   A c c o r d i o n s
New Instruments     Secondhand Instruments

CLICK ON either of the links below to go to the BBC's One Show

aClick on accordion

Please click on Allodi Accordions Interview to view film 
made by Vanluke Watson on Vimeo.  

B R U N O   A L L O D I
1 July 1915 - 25 July 2006

The picture (left) shows the dashing, young Italian accordionist, Bruno, at a time when he was one of Italy's most promising talents.   Bruno Allodi, born 1 July 1915, was determined to learn to play the accordion and he would settle for being no less than the very best.  In a quiet, sleepy hamlet called San Ilario, Felino, near Parma, Italy, this young man started a fascinating and fulfilling life that he could not even have begun to imagine from such humble beginnings.

As a young boy he would take the tram to his music lessons across the Italian countryside and dream of becoming a famous accordionist.  Later, when he owned a bicycle, he would travel for days to play a "gig" - a  far cry from the way the music scene operates these days!  Yet he remembered every small detail till the day he died, with pride and affection.  Bruno worked with his father from a very early age, carpentry, building, whatever was needed.  He was always resourceful, creative, practical and imaginative no matter how basic the materials or how limited the finances.

This is the story of Bruno Allodi and his family, their journey to England from Parma, Italy; their small beginnings in North London and the birth and growth of the Allodi Accordions that we know today.

Bruno is greatly missed by his family everyday and by all who knew him.

SoloRina.jpg (20704 bytes)Allodi Accordions is a well established family business that has endured some 60 years.  It started with Bruno, Emilio's father, who opened an accordion sales and repair shop in Mountgrove Road, North London with his wife Rina (pictured right, aged 19) and their then only son, Claudio;  Emilio followed later, born here in London. The two brothers, Claudio and Emilio, were talented and passionate about music even as small children.  Claudio became a professional accordionist and Emilio, although also a championship standard  accordionist (and pianist) up until the age of 18, played bass guitar professionally until he opened his branch of the business in South London in 1978.The young newleyweds- Rina & Bruno Allodi  

  Rina & Bruno 1943 Bruno and children Claudio & Emilio with their accordions in the garden of their home

The picture left, shows Bruno with his two young sons at their North London home in the days before he had achieved his ambition of an accordion business of his own.  The two larger instruments you see played by Bruno and Claudio pictured left were made in the kitchen of that home.  Upon opening his shop in North London, it quickly went from strength to strength.  This was in no small part due to the support he had from his wife Rina.  Arriving in England a year or so after Bruno with savings of just 5 between them and unable to speak a word of English, she quickly made herself the hub of the family and business plan.   No task was too big or too small; all this besides running the home and bringing up their two boys.   Her day frequently involved cleaning and re-valving reeds along with other essential skills involved in the maintenance of the accordion.  She possessed a fine creative talent all her own, not only in ideas pertaining to the accordion; aged around 70 she discovered an ability for watercolour painting, and we have a treasure trove of her work hung around the family home!  Sadly, we lost Rina Wednesday December 17, 2003.  Rina had been very ill for some time and died shortly before her 84th birthday on Christmas Eve 2003.  She is sadly missed by us all.

BJul2000.jpg (56820 bytes)The photograph on the left was taken by a regular visitor and friend, Ken Hopkins (a man with a truly huge collection of pre-war instruments) in July 2006 after hours of chatting about the accordion with Bruno.  He very kindly presented us with this snapshot and we only then realised that Bruno had been playing the very same  accordion he had made totally by hand  as used in the black and white picture on the left above, forty five years later!

Bruno at work in a London accordion factory in the 1950's
Upon his arrival in England, Bruno found work in several London accordion specialist shops as a tuner and repairer. This eventually provided the financial means to then later help him set up his own business.    
Bruno pictured right working at the Accordion Development Centre, North London in 1954.

It was a source of great joy to his parents when from a very early age Emilio showed the desire and ability to follow in his father's footsteps, and ever after that time, was an active participant in the running of the shop, serving that all important craftman's apprenticeship as father and son worked side by side.  
The Bruno Allodi Shop in Mountgrove Road, N5.
The Allodi family outside the shop in North London.  

Emilio has a stack of memories of life in the shop in North London; his father teaching, repairing and of course, playing the accordion.  Over the years, literally thousands of customers and enthusiasts would come to his father for help.  On many occasions, the more audacious have been known to ring the doorbell after 10pm at night, when suddenly faced with the emergency of a broken reed whilst they were working in the North London area!  flacho.jpg (27172 bytes)

A fond memory from the Mountgrove Road shop days is that of a visit from the great Mexican player Flaco Jiminez with the BBC in 1984, pictured right with Bruno and Claudio.   Claudio recalls "he was one of the friendliest men I have ever met and I was stunned at his incredible technique."  Click on picture.

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<The picture left is yet another example of Bruno's limitless creativity and resourcefulness.  Bruno designed and made the toy car proudly driven by Claudio, just as he made their prams and buggies I am reliably informed.  Click on the picture to see it in full size and take a close look at the Super Salas accordion grill used on the front!  These Allodis' waste 'nuffin'!  For me however, it's the hat that gets it!   It is typically Italian and oh soooo scary!!! (Think Sopranos)!

Umberto Allodi - Bruno's younger brother and accordion playing star!

The instruments you see with Umberto were made especially for him by SuperSalas in Stradella, Northern Italy.  The Bass system he used was a Belgian system with three extra rows of free bass allowing four octaves of single notes, and the one pictured on the right had extra reed blocks for those free bass reeds.

Bruno was one of two brothers.  Umberto Allodi, his younger brother (pictured) was for many years a professional accordionist.  Indeed he was a consummate entertainer up until he died a few years ago.  He was a large, booming man with a keen sense of fun who loved to tease and play tricks on the young Emilio in the summer holidays spent in Italy.  With his world class playing he achieved high status in Europe and made dozens of recordings, later establishing his own teaching school in La Spezia, Italy.  There was a fierce competitiveness between the two brothers in all that they did, and this served to make them very entertaining when together.

A more pensive Umberto Allodi - Bruno's brother

Busillachio Advert featuring Umberto Allodi
Following an introduction to Ildo Busilacchio, a leading Italian accordion manufacturer of the time, Bruno trained in his factory as a tuner, but he also took a greater and wider interest in the accordion as a whole.
  This helped equip him with enormous experience, leading him to make complete accordions at home, and therefore, with the passing of time, master all the principles of accordion manufacture.
Pictured left, Umberto at the Busilacchio factory
Pictured right, the Busilacchio emblem

The Busillachio emblem

Bruno & friend in war-time ItalyBruno and his brother studied music, specifically the accordion with Ubaldo Ferrari, a composer, conductor and famous band leader throughout Italy.  They professionally entertained the troops throughout much of Italy during war time.  As young men they would cycle up into the Northern mountains and play for the villagers at their "festas" (open air dances).  A wooden dance floor would be laid down and the people danced all night under the stars to the popular tunes of the time.  The picture left shows Bruno, ever with accordion, with some of his army regiment and friends in the 1940s.  Since that journey from Parma, Italy to England in 1951, Bruno has spent his life working with the accordion.  His professional playing career ended while in Italy due to illness where Rina lovingly nursed him back to eventual good health.  Having obtained his shop in Mountgrove Road, North London for his own accordion business as a result of his hard work, Bruno's talent was quickly apparent with him becoming known as the "maestro" and "craftsman"of the accordion, not just in London, but anywhere.  
Bruno at work in his own workshop in the 70's
Some would mistakenly think of the accordion as one of the instruments technology has passed by, but this is not so; upon the advent of electronic accordions back in the late sixties, Bruno began enthusiastically converting accordions brought to him by clients who wished to expand their instruments' potential in this way.  With his natural forte for engineering and ingenuity he was equally adept in this field, finding the neatest and most practical place on the instruments to install them and also a joy in doing it.  For this multi-faceted and talented man, it was simply a natural progression.  

Brushopsign.jpg (220564 bytes) Till the day he died he would astound the family with his designs and innovative ideas for modifications to his beloved accordion and how he still loved to play!  Aged 89 he treated himself to a new accordion so he could make some recordings of his playing to improve his technique and really get into the harmonics of the like of Rossini and Verdi!  Sadly he never completed them.

<picture left, Bruno's shop sign from 50s

shopopen81.gif (58526 bytes)Many years have passed since Emilio first opened his own shop in Lewisham, South London in 1981, and it has since changed a great deal.  However, the Allodi tradition has and continues to be maintained.  Bruno's youngest son has perfected his skills.  His craftsmanship, experience, honesty and integrity are much sought after and renowned in the accordion world. Indeed, he is frequently visited by enthusiasts from other countries, as well as contributing to TV and radio programmes when expert information is needed.  In addition to his commitment to the largest stock of new and secondhand instruments anywhere in the United Kingdom, the shop provides an on-site repair facility, and the bulk of Emilio's time is spent restoring customers' much loved pieces.  Emilio Allodi repairing an accordion in his workshopThis can be a good and bad thing, as with a never ending workload, the queue for overhauls and repair work becomes longer and longer and any days off are usually spent at the workbench!

Many customers and accordion enthusiasts find it really enjoyable to go to the workshop section and watch him work.  For the professional musician, the knowledge that he can and will fix a problem, on the spot wherever possible, is a huge benefit.  Many of us face the dilemma of leaving our prized instruments to be sent away for repair with no certain knowledge of when they might return or what the cost will be.  Most of us feel the same way about any possession we cherish; we want to know that the person we leave it with to restore is trustworthy and capable of the job required, and without fear of any contradiction, there is no-one in the United Kingdom who will serve you better.

family1999.jpg (196007 bytes)Music shops on the whole can be intimidating places, especially for those who play only for pleasure or as a hobby, but Allodi Accordions is a warm and friendly environment where you can take as little or as long as you need.
 <Picture left - A proud family moment of the two Allodi generations.

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So many instruments to see ..... so many questions ....
so many accordions to try...... so many to choose from.... so much to learn ......
in a comfortable, non-pressurising atmosphere...

You are always made welcome at 
Allodi Accordions 

Watch your repair done for you while-u-wait on many occasions.  Mike fitting.... broken reeds ...
sticking notes.....

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All repairs done on the premises

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You may be lucky and meet up with the 
Sausages - An innovative band making use of the accordion's portability for their original and zany act.  Dan Teper is a frequent visitor to the shop.

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This is truly the largest cache of accordions located within one business.  Instruments of all makes, sizes and specifications literally line the walls.  In fact, the shop is no longer big enough to contain the ever increasing ranges that are stocked.  For example, just looking at the way the accordions are displayed in the photograph you see on the left, is no longer possible with the stock now held.  To this end if all the stock were displayed this way, a further three shops would be needed.  As it stands now, plans are underway for expansion.

We fully appreciate the needs of all our customers when selecting an instrument.  Buying any instrument can be a scary experience if you are met with indifference or a lack of understanding.  Within a short time at Allodi Accordions however, you won't recall being apprehensive at all!  

We recognize the importance of taking time, and providing guidance, if wanted.  We have little areas tucked out the way that allow those less experienced than others to play with freedom and experiment until they are confident that they have made the right choice with no pressure whatsoever.  Emilio's driving philosophy is that a business is only successful if you've attained a happy customer who will want to return to you in the future.  

If you do not play at all - no problem.  Emilio will be happy to demonstrate any instrument you wish to hear.  Indeed,  this is a vital part of the selection process.  As an example, a musette tuning is different from double octave tuning, or cassotto to non cassotto.  He will let you hear these differences and explain the terms so that you understand which is the best to suit you.   

If you would like more details of this kind, y
ou can click here and go to a section which provides this information as clearly as possible.   So many new customers who come to the shop and already have instruments very often have no idea what specification of accordion they own because of a lack of information provided when they bought it.

Allodi Accordions Limited, continually striving to achieve excellence in all areas of service to the accordion players of the world, 
professional and amateur alike. 


"We Love Each Other" 
Declare Couple Married 55 Years

Bruno said ..... 
I played all the popular songs on my accordion.  I was very clever in choosing a wife.  I serenaded her under her bedroom window in our home town, Poggio di San Ilario,  Northern Italy.  

He continued ...One night, while playing, I saw someone peering through the curtains.  
So the next day, I went to the house.  Nothing!  She didn't say a word.  I'd played a beautiful song, but it didn't work.  

Rina said ... I had come to the window, but my father was on the floor below so I couldn't stay.  It was a pity I didn't hear more, but he has played for me many times since.  

She continued ... In summer, he'd play in gardens and people would come and 
bring meats and wine.  

I was just a young girl then, and he was my first love.

By Craig Taylor
taken from The Guardian Saturday, 8 March, 2002.



E con grande dolore che annunciamo che il nostro caro Bruno, padre di Claudio ed Emilio e fondatore 
di "Allodi Accordions" e' morto nel pomeriggio di martedi' il 25 luglio 2006 mentre dormiva. 

I make no apology for leaving these articles on the website even though Rina and Bruno are both no longer with us.  Their story is so touching, enduring and such a contrast to the world as we all know it today, that it is simply too special to remove. 

For us, they are still here and a part of our everyday lives because we remember so well and so often, the conversations, the traditional
meals, the various home-made furniture, gadgets and ideas, their loving personalities, unconditional support and of course, the music.  

Kim Allodi


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