Guido Deiro |
Accordion Teacher: San Francisco
Guido Deiro Accordion Studio, 511 Columbus Avenue at Green Street, San Fransicso, c. late 1920s or early 1930s.
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For nearly two decades -- from 1910 to the late 1920s -- Guido Deiro was one of the most popular musicians on the vaudeville stage. He routinely traveled back and forth across the United States and Canada (and other countries as well) as a vaudeville headliner.
As he commanded top billing, his income was substantial (for a time he was the highest-paid musician in vaudeville) and he lived an opulent lifestyle: wearing only the finest clothes, eating at the finest restaurants and driving the finest cars.
Naturally, women who attended his concerts were attracted to him and he was not disinclined to enjoy their intimate company. In these respects at least, his life was not much different from that of a modern rock star.
However, the golden age of vaudeville and the extravagant era of the "roaring twenties" could not last forever. Vaudeville began to decline with the advent of radio and the motion picture. As early as 1896 motion pictures were introduced into vaudeville shows as added attractions and to clear the house between shows. Moving pictures gradually preempted more and more performing time for live stage acts until, after the advent of the "talkies" about 1927, the customary bill featured a full-length motion picture with "added acts" of vaudeville. The stock market crash of October 1929, the great financial depression of the 1930s and the growth of radio and later of television contributed to the rapid decline of vaudeville and to its virtual disappearance after World War II.
Although Deiro continued to play vaudeville shows until at least 1935, after 1929 he traveled less and focused his career on the West Coast. He always had an affinity for the Northwest, spending his vacations in the rugged Northern California and Southern Oregon forests hunting and fishing. Breitenbush Hot Springs in Oregon was one of his favorite haunts. He even wrote a march of the same name. Another composition, Western Stars March, was written while camping.
In the late-twenties Deiro opened a studio and accordion distributorship with Louis Allara as an associate on Columbus Avenue in San Francisco and from there branched out into Northern California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, at one time having over two dozen franchised studios. John Barsuglia was a fine accordionist that worked with Deiro for many years teaching and traveling on the road between studios.
Advertisement for Guido Deiro Accordion Studio
at 511 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco.
Deiro had a time-tested system for opening accordion studios: he would choose a town and give a concert at a local theater. This would provide the publicity and audience. During the concert he would announce the opening of a new Guido Deiro Accordion Studio and after the concert he would sign up new students. After a few weeks, when the studio was running smoothly and successfully, he would turn it over to a capable teacher in the area where it was located. John Barsuglia opened and operated some of Deiro's California studios. To establish the Jackson California studio in 1938, Deiro personally came and performed a concert at the Amador Theater (see poster below).
Publicity poster for concert by Guido at the
Amador Theater, Jackson, California, 1938
Text of poster above:
World's Greatest Accordionist
A Rare Treat For Lovers of Accordion Music
Played By a Master
Also Stage Presentation By Johnnie Barsuglia
Local Instructor and Representative,
Presenting Pupils In Concert Form.
MR. DEIRO will play for the first time in public, a new $1000 accordion especially built for him. This instrument has 16 different changes of tonality.
NO ADVANCE IN PRICES.
Deiro organized accordion contests, accordion band competitions and played concerts to promote his records, music, method books and the Italo-American and Guerinni accordions he sold. As late as 1935 he played in concerts and on the Orpheum Theater Circuit appearing as a single act between the showing of talking motion pictures on the same bill. This confirmed his ongoing popularity, as very few vaudeville entertainers were strong enough draws to single on the same bill as a motion picture.
Guido Deiro and Pasquale Petromilli, the proprietor of the Guerrini Accordion Company,
c. late 1930s.
This photograph was published in the book by Ove Hahn Anthony Galla-Rini: On His Life and the Accordion (Nils Fläcke Musik, Stockholm: 1986). The caption is incorrect; the photo is not of Anthony Galla-Rini, but Guido Deiro. Galla-Rini married Petromilli's daughter Dina.
Guido Deiro: Accordion Salesman, San Francisco, c. 1937-1938