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John Wild

Concertinas In Literature

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The German troops opposite the Wessex regiment were apparently from west Saxony so I would think there is a good chance they would have had locally made instruments with them.According to Graves even the first year truces were pretty sketchy with lots of regiments not wanting to fraternise.

Of course Graves was a magnificent story teller but I would still rather his version than the current tasteless use of these events for advertising Christmas supermarket consumerism.

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Well, a "concertina" on the German side would most likely have been a Chemnitzer or something like that, much to large and heavy for carrying it through a war. More likely we might think of small melodeons - in WWII there seem to have been many Hohner Liliput and Preciosa models "at the front", much sought-after models nowadays (tried to acquire a Preciosa at some point myself). Apart from these later super-small models a two-row 8 bass model is portable anyways...

 

Seasonal greetings - Wolf

 

Could this film clip be used in evidence? :D

 

http://youtu.be/FSeSLi4RQ6s

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Not such a good description IMHO:

 

From "Australia Felix”, the first book in the trilogy “The Fortunes of Richard Mahony” by Henry Handel Richardson (Edith Richardson). Set in Ballarat, during the gold rush of the 1850’s, but written in 1917.

 

“The only sound was that of a man’s voice singing Oft in the Stilly Night, to the yetching accompaniment of a concertina.”

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.

 

“The only sound was that of a man’s voice singing Oft in the Stilly Night, to the yetching accompaniment of a concertina.”

 

' Yetching' ?

 

Retching .... perhaps ? (or fetching , etching ..... )

Edited by Geoff Wooff

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John McCormack left us a pleasant recording with piano accompaniment.

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I think this passage, from Booth Tarkington's "Penrod" (1914), is the very place where I first encountered the word "concertina." The reference is only enriched by the fact that the instrument in question isn't a concertina at all. Though I'll bet Mr. Schofield disposed of it by offering it on eBay as one.

 

Sadly, I never seem to meet mysterious benefactors like Penrod's.

 

Bob Michel

Near Philly

 

-------------------------

 

"Oh SOMETHING!" shouted Mr. Schofield, clasping his bilious brow with both hands. "Stop that noise! Isn't it awful enough for you to SING? Sit DOWN! Not with that thing on! Take that green rope off your shoulder! Now take that thing out of the dining-room and throw it in the ash-can! Where did you get it?"

"Where did I get what, papa?" asked Penrod meekly, depositing the accordion in the hall just outside the dining-room door.

"That da--that third-hand concertina."

"It's a 'cordian," said Penrod, taking his place at the table, and noticing that both Margaret and Mr. Robert Williams (who happened to be a guest) were growing red.

"I don't care what you call it," said Mr. Schofield irritably. "I want to know where you got it."

Penrod's eyes met Margaret's: hers had a strained expression.

She very slightly shook her head. Penrod sent Mr. Williams a grateful look, and might have been startled if he could have seen himself in a mirror at that moment; for he regarded Mitchy-Mitch with concealed but vigorous aversion and the resemblance would have horrified him.

"A man gave it to me," he answered gently, and was rewarded by the visibly regained ease of his patron's manner, while Margaret leaned back in her chair and looked at her brother with real devotion.

"I should think he'd have been glad to," said Mr. Schofield. "Who was he?"

"Sir?" In spite of the candy which he had consumed in company with Marjorie and Mitchy-Mitch, Penrod had begun to eat lobster croquettes earnestly.

"Who WAS he?"

"Who do you mean, papa?"

"The man that gave you that ghastly Thing!"

"Yessir. A man gave it to me."

"I say, Who WAS he?" shouted Mr. Schofield.

"Well, I was just walking along, and the man came up to me--it was right down in front of Colgate's, where most of the paint's rubbed off the fence"

"Penrod!" The father used his most dangerous tone.

"Sir?"

"Who was the man that gave you the concertina?"

"I don't know. I was walking along"

"You never saw him before?"

"No, sir. I was just walk"

"That will do," said Mr. Schofield, rising. "I suppose every family has its secret enemies and this was one of ours. I must ask to be excused!"

Edited by Bob Michel

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I find the idea of German WWI soldiers playing the concertina quite plausible.

There are small German Chemnitzer, Carlsfelder and Bandoneon models from that period, so portability would not be such a problem.

And the Konzertina was a very popular instrument with the German working class in the early 20th century. It is said that, in the 1920s, there were more Konzertina clubs in Germany than there were football clubs! So there must have been quite a few Konzertinists at the front, and at least some of them must have taken their beloved instrument with them.

 

Cheers,

John

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I have just read Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.

In the 1st chapter (page 7 in my edition), I read the following:

 

"Imagine him here - the very end of the world, a sea the colour of lead, a sky the colour of smoke, a kind of ship about as rigid as a concertina".

 

I think that is a comment on the state of the ship.

 

regards,

 

John Wild.

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"In the bar the music was in full swing. Musicians from other bands had begun to arrive. The beat of the bodhran was the dominant sound but fiddles, concertinas, melodeons and accordeons were in no way subdued by the many drummers beating out the age-old throbbing timbre of the bodhran, thunderous when demanded, gentle and muted too as a solitary concertina player rendered a tune whose words told of heart-broken exiles in far-off lands. Finally only the bodhran of Donal Hallapy was heard in accompaniment as the concertina player coaxed the delicate note, teased the long note, jerked the short and wrestled the powerful from the insignificant instrument."

 

page 90 The Bodhran Makers by John B. Keane

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Bony and the Kelly Gang by Arthur Upfield contains the following:

 

'"We'll pick some leaves and play on 'em while Uncle Joe grinds on his concertina," declared the boy on Boney's right.

 

'"I like that," objected the bald man. "Grinding on me concertina."'

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Japanese photographer/novelist Synya Fujiwara wtote a novel titled "Dingle no irie (Cove of Dingle)".

In that novel an old Tinker named Angus who lived in small island said he made various instrument including tinwhisle, flute, fiddle, small harp ,mouth organ, bouzouki, bodhran, and concertina with available material.

 

Unfortunately this is Japanese novel and no translation available ......

 

--

Taka

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"Soames and Irene were seated at dinner. A hot dinner on Sundays was a little distinguishing elegance common to this house and many others. Early in married life Soames had laid down the rule: 'The servants must give us a hot dinner on Sundays - they've nothing to do but play the concertina.'"

John Galsworthy

A Man of Property

The Forsyte Saga

 

Cheers

Rob

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I have just read Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.

In the 1st chapter (page 7 in my edition), I read the following:

 

"Imagine him here - the very end of the world, a sea the colour of lead, a sky the colour of smoke, a kind of ship about as rigid as a concertina".

 

I think that is a comment on the state of the ship.

 

regards,

 

John Wild.

 

There are quirky bits of humour to be found here and there in the writings of Joseph Conrad.

 

Nowt to do with concertinas (so, strictly speaking, a little OT), but my personal favourite is (from memory):

 

"...one night, all the rats left the ship..." - another comment on the state of the ship, methinks.

 

From (I think) 'Typhoon' - must check...

 

Roger

Edited by lachenal74693

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We had no songs and no music in the evening, because Jimmy (we all lovingly called him Jimmy, to conceal our hate of his accomplice) had managed with that prospective decease of his, to disturb even Archie's mental balance. Archie was the owner of the concertina; but after a couple of stinging lectures from Jimmy he refused to play anymore. he said: "Yon's an uncanny joker. I dinna ken whats wrang wi' him, but there's something verra wrang, verra wrang It's nae manner of use asking me. I won't play." Our singers became mute because Jimmy was a dying man.

 

 

from "The Nigger of the Narcissus" by Joseph Conrad.

Page 40 Penguin Modern Classics. Reprinted 1973.

First published 1897.

 

Joseph Conrad was an excellent writer but sadly appears to be in the Doldrums these days.

 

Cheers all.

Edited by Discord

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Joseph Conrad was an excellent writer but sadly appears to be in the Doldrums these days.

 

 

Yes, indeed!

 

Above all, Conrad was a sailor all his working life, from deck hand to captain, and the "local colour" in his seafaring tales was not researched (as in the Hornblower stories), but drawn from personal experience. And when he writes "Archie was the owner of the concertina" (not "a concertina"), we are justified in deducing that the concertina was as much an essential part of a ship as "the windlass" or "the wheel".

 

Cheers,

John

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I have just read a short story by HG Wells. It is called The wonderful visit.

In chapter 12 (very short chapters! :-) ), this text is found:

"His trousers look like concertinas".

 

There is no further explanation of the sentence. As the being who is the object of the description is wearing borrowed clothes, I am guessing that the trousers are a poor fit and the legs are folded up like the bellows on a concertina. But that is only my best guess.

 

- John Wild.

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I visited a preserved country mansion called Uppark which is here in West Sussex just before Christmas. In the basement in the servants kitchen was an exhibition about H G Wells as his mother was a servant there so he was a regular visitor. In an account of the servants' life there was a statement that said that the servants had regular dances "accompanied by fiddle and concertina." I've tried various ways to find out if there is anything more available about this but all to no avail. Who played it? What system? What sort of music did they play? Intriguing! Perhaps that is where he got the idea of the trousers looking like bellows on a concertina!

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