In Memory of:
an impresario, organiser, teacher, writer,
publisher, composer, arranger and accordionist.
Adrian Dante - impresario, organiser, teacher, writer, publisher, composer, arranger, record producer and accordionist - was born in London of Italian parents in 1914, and spent much of his childhood in Italy where he became fascinated by the accordion and immersed in music. His birth name was actually Dante Adriano, but as a teenager in London he preferred the anglicised name Adrian Dante. As a young man, Adrian Dante rapidly emerged as an outstanding accordionist, with an extensive repertoire that ranged from the musette music of Italy and France through to transcriptions of classical music.

He was, in fact, the first European accordionist to perform The Flight of the Bumblebee in public. In arranging and performing classical music on the accordion in the early 1930s, Dante was ahead of his time, and many of his ideas about music have since come to be regarded as standard practice. During the 1930s, 40s and early 50s, Dante made countless radio broadcasts both as a soloist and with his quartet, and was the first accordionist in this country to broadcast the compositions of the great American-Italian composer Pietro Frosini. He was, in fact, a close long-term friend of Frosini and also the accordionist/composer brothers Guido and Pietro Deiro, and has written extensively about each in British and international accordion magazines over the years.

In 1931 Dante began teaching the piano accordion, and in the post-war years after 1945 founded the Accordion Development Centre based at 131 Hampstead Rd, London NW1. The ADC employed many well-known teachers such as Percy Holland, Eddie Harris, Francisco Cavez and Albert Delroy. His pupils have become high-class accordionists, included Gerald Delmondi, Antonio (Tony Lowe), Trevani, Gina Brannelli and Pearl Fawcett.

When Italy entered the Second World War on Hitler's side in June 1940, most Italians in Britain were interned for the duration of the conflict. Dante and his family escaped internment due to the fact that his parents were known to be opponents of Mussolini, and Dante became an entertainer with ENSA concert parties. In the 1930s, Dante made a number of recordings, but the master tapes were alas destroyed in a bombing raid during the London Blitz in 1941.

Once the war was over, Dante and Desmond A. Hart in 1946 together founded the British Association of Accordionists and the magazine Accordion Review (remodelled as World Accordion Review in 1950). The BAA set up and ran its own regional and British national accordion championships, and also functioned as an examining body with its own grade and diploma examinations. The activities of the BAA ran counter to the similar work of the National Accordion Organisation, founded in 1949, and the British College of Accordionists. Even more controversially, Dante led the BAA to secede from the Confédération Internationale des Accordéonistes in 1950, to form the rival Confédération Mondiale de l'Accordéon. The split came about as a result of dissatisfaction by some countries' national associations over the alleged extent of M. Hohner Ltd's involvement (perceived as actual control) in the administering of the world championships.

Thus were born the CIA Coupe Mondiale and the CMA Trophée Mondiale, rival world championships in a schism that remains unresolved to this day. The immediate post-war period marked the beginning of Dante as an accordion impresario and contest organiser, with the large-scale BAA championships being staged annually at St Pancras Town Hall in London, and also celebrity concerts and concert tours being frequently involving many of the world's greatest accordionists. In the early 1950s, Dante was the first to introduce Marcosignori to the British public, and he also organised a successful tour featuring as a duo the combined talents of Italian solo stars Gorni Kramer & Beltrami Wolmer.

Dante's increasing commitments as an impresario eventually led to the BAA being dissolved in the early 1970s. In the mid-1980s, Dante promoted a concert tour featuring both Pearl Fawcett and bayan maestro Yuri Kasakov (USSR), his last large-scale effort. Dante guided the career of Pearl Fawcett, whom he later married, and who had become the second British World Accordion Champion, winning the CMA solo title in Hamburg in 1961 (James Reavey was the first British-born World Champion, winning the CMA title in 1953).

From 1946 onwards, Dante was heavily involved in composing, arranging and publishing music for the accordion. He founded Modern Accordion Publications (a.k.a. M.A.P Editions), making available a very wide selection of sheet music, mainly in the Continental genre. He was a talented composer and arranger, and most of his work is available via MAP. In conjunction with MAP, Dante became a record producer, founding the Caravelle record label, making the recorded music of Pearl Fawcett, Delmondi, Antonio, Kramer & Wolmer, and many others available to the public.

Adrian Dante died peacefully in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, on March 22nd 2005, in his 91st year. There was no funeral as he had requested that his body be donated to medical research. In the course of his long and productive life, Adrian Dante became one of Britain's most eminent authorities on playing, teaching, composing and arranging music for the accordion. Dante had made a vast amount of music for accordion available to the world through his various activities, and his lifetime contribution to the development of the accordion, especially in Great Britain, should be recognised and respected by present and future generations.

Rob Howard
 - Author of the A - Z Book