And Joining Us on Accordion Is…

accompanist (ə kum′pə nist) n. a person who plays or sings and accompaniment: also ac•com’pa•ny•ist (-nē ist)

accompaniment (ə kump′ni mənt, ə kum′pə nē mənt) n. 1. Anything that accompany one thing else; thing added, usually for order or symmetry 2. Music a part, usually instrumental, performed together with the main part for richer effect [the piano accompaniment to a song]

-from Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language (Second College Edition), 1968

As our dancers prepare for the Gaufest in Sandusky, OH hosted by our friends from STV Bavaria, Publicity & Editorial and the Archivar have been at work reviewing the past coverage of the Gaufests in the Monthly Progress. It’s been an interesting chance to reminisce and to learn stories from our past. You can read some of these old issues and articles here on this website. On occasion in the past Emily Fricker would preview the upcoming Gaufests in the spring issues, giving information about the upcoming event, but also outlining history of our competing teams so far, profiling our dancers, and leaders etc.

The idea for this article came from Werner Fricker III as a way for our dancers to thank our current musician as well as those of the past. A recently re-discovered issue of the Progress from 1997 gave us this anecdote. At the Gaufest in Delaware, our group dedicated our Stern Polka Ehrentanz in the memory of Ron Row Sr. who had passed away just before. The passage no doubt written by Emily Fricker notes that in 1987 in Milwaukee, the Auerhahn-Oley man accompanied us when we performed our Ehrentanz (our first performance of any kind at a Gaufest).

So our first performance at a Gaufest was aided by a friend from a fellow club. After that something similar would happen. From time to time, great accordion players from our local community, from other dance groups across the USA and sometimes internationally play for us when we are in need. We have a great thanks whenever they do, but the folks we will talk about next we have been honored to have as part of our club.

In 1989 the group sought to enter the group competition and we have entered ever since. They needed an accordion player to be there at the many practices and to play for us on the day at the Gaufest. Some of our dancers played accordion, but all of them it seemed wanted to dance. Some brainstorming led them to ask Jakob “Jack” Mattes, a friend from the Donauschwaben in Philadelphia. So Jack said yes. Next they needed a piece of march music to get them on the floor. Most Schuhplattler groups march in to a version of the Holzhacker music. The German Hungarians however, wanted something unique. It was Jack Mattes who volunteered to find the music and he returned with some notes he had from his father. The piece was titled as a Kirchweihmarsh, and it fit for what they needed. From 1989 through 2001 Jakob Mattes served as the accompanist to our Preisplattler Teams. He played for our team for seven Gaufest competitions as well as in between, and he gave us the intro sound of the German Hungarian Schuhplattlers. Marlene Fricker said, “later we considered changing the march to something else but after talking about it we didn’t do that. We did well with Jack. He was good, and he did whatever we asked of him. So we couldn’t change it.” Jack’s tenure as our accordion player saw the gambit of placements at the Gaufest, from 14th, to a string of bronze medals, to first place in 1999. Sadly he passed away in 2016, but for us every time we march in to his march we can remember him.

Jack Mattes (at center) with 1991 Preisplattler Team
Maria Antoniak!

By 2003, our group was now the host of the Gaufest and Maria Antoniak joined us from Die Heimatklaenge. Maria played for our Preis teams from 2003 through 2015. Over that time, she aided us in ways we cannot be more thankful for. Her music accompanied us for seven Gaufest competitions including a second and first place finish. She also traveled with us to perform at Gaufests in Germany. Maria also took on a great task playing for our many Einzel couples over her time. She played for us on many dance jobs, for our children at Kinderfests and Jugend Einzel events, Kirchweihfest, Landestreffen, banquets, and was a great and happy member of our club family. She still lends us her talents from time to time when available. Maria has a way of exciting us to dance with the way she moves behind her accordion. Just last year we turned the tables inviting her to dance with us at one of our jobs. Needless to say, we marched off full of laughter with big smiles. In May of this year, Maria played for our Gau Team when they danced first on a chilly morning at the Judges Training in Lancaster. She marched us out to “Jack’s March” with her familiar (bum baaa ba baaa, ba baa da dum, bum bum…) which we all know is a march she only plays for us.

Joe Reiter

In the beginning of the Cultural Group and after they began dancing Schuhplattler dances, Emily Fricker often wrote out music for our dances as did John Galgon. Others like John Caporaletti, Susi Hartmann, and Haidy Kerber also played accordion for our group at times.

Special thanks over the years and still very much today goes to a couple of the best Joes we know. Joe Reiter has been active since before the early days of the Schuhplattler Group. He has served us in many capacities including as Vorplattler. But whenever we need him he still pulls out the accordion. He played for our “Jugend Einzelers” for many years and was the musical controller for so many Christmas shows. He also often played the music our youngest dance groups needed when they sang at the Gaufests in the early 2000s. Speaking of singing Joe Reiter never turns down a chance to sing as a group and is eager to convince his peers to join in with us. He even compiled a packet of song sheets he brings along wherever we go.

Joe Hartmann

Joe Hartmann has assisted us with recordings, transfers of old songs from records and cassettes and CDs to digital. He also as part of StHGrafik helps us with design needs and printing matters.

The Joes never say no when we need an announcer, an iPod player, and so much more.

Over the years, the partnership of the German Hungarian dance groups and Die Heimatklaenge has been invaluable. While the accordion players of the HK have played for us, the band itself was the sound of our Kirchweih Shows, and more. The dancers enjoy the performances most when we on occasion get to dance to a full live HK Band.

John Galgon

“Throughout our history we have had a great assistance with music and the technology connected with our music, from huge record players, to reel to reel tapes, the cassette machine to the compact discs, and the MP3  music file played on iPods, phones and music players. Today we truly have music at our fingertips. However, it has been live music and the musicians that have contributed so much to our performances. Accordion players, John Galgon, Lenny Hartmann, Haidy Kerber, Carl Meyer, Tommy Groeber, Jack Mattes, Joe Reiter and Maria Antoniak have accompanied us. With the power of technology, we still dance to the music recorded by our friends.”

-from A History of Our Cultural Group (1965-2015)

Dino Jakovasic

After that above quote was printed in the 50th Anniversary of the Cultural Group Souvenir Book, Dino Jakovasic joined us on accordion. Playing first for our Preis Team in 2017 in Buffalo, Dino has become an essential part of what we do. Not only does he also entertain us with captivating accordion solos when with HK, he travels during Gau Season to wherever we practice sometimes over two hours from New Jersey. He’s willing to play for us whenever available even when on his break with the HK. And he is always there ready to play when it is time. We never have to look for him, remind him or find him so we can start. He has made new recordings for us of both new dances we have learned, and old ones that needed sprucing up, sometimes at a moment’s notice. We have seen recent practices where Alex need only say to Dino, can you make that part longer, or shorter, can you speed it up, slow it down, change it around, and somehow, he just does it. Right there in the moment. No time needed to figure it out. These are the reasons he wears the Musikwart pin. After 2022 Dino also wears a 3rd Place pin. Like those before him, he has also embraced us as friends sharing in our club-life, laughing with us, accompanying us.

We didn’t forget about those two definitions we started out with. In their own ways each of these people have made the German Hungarians richer by playing the musical part.

Thank You.

-From the Cultural & Schuhplattler Group

leave a comment