Airdate: May 20, 2003
Scientist: Jeanne Widman
Accordion Festival: Walter Eriksson
Each Memorial Day accordion players from around the world gather in New Jersey.
ambience: accordian music
There’s a festival held every May in Vassa Park, New Jersey, which brings people of Scandinavian background - and music lovers alike - together with one common bond. I’m Jim Metzner and this is Pulse of the Planet. If you love the accordion, then you probably already know about New Jersey’s annual Musikfest. It began in 1993 as a tribute to musician and composer Walter Eriksson and it's grown in popularity ever since. Attracting over 100 performing artists from Sweden, Norway and the United States, the event is overflowing with music. It’s billed as one of the largest assemblies of accordions in the world.
Accordion player, Arthur Carlson, has been part of the festival since it began.
“The reason why this festival started is because of Walter Eriksson. And he was my accordion teacher many years ago."
Eriksson, a giant in the world of the accordion, composed many tunes for the instrument that still enjoys popularity throughout Scandinavia and beyond. He also gave lessons to many aspiring accordionists from his home in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.
"As a teenager, and in the 50’s there - music was changing. And he would ask me within the half hour lesson, 'what song would you like to play and learn?' So, I would mention some song and within a few minutes he would have sheet music, and he would write it out - the melody, the chords, the harmony - and he would hand it to me. Whatever I asked for. So he was a gifted person, and his whole life was the accordion."
When he immigrated to America, Walter Eriksson’s dream was to help perpetuate the traditions of the Scandinavian people through music.
Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.