Lenin and … accordions

A little known fact about Lenin is that he took great interest in accordions, which turn out to be ‘modern’ instruments – I am sure I’m not the only one to be surprised.

The development of accordion-making is also interesting as a process of the elimination of primitive folk instruments and of the creation of a wide, national market; without this market there could have been no division of labour by processes, and without division of labour the finished article could not have been produced cheaply: ‘Owing to their cheapness … the accordions have nearly everywhere displaced the primitive string folk instrument, the balalaika’.

Lenin, Collected Works, vol 3, p. 426.


20 thoughts on “Lenin and … accordions

  1. That’s so weird! A squeeze box. She looks appropriately pissed off. He demonstrated such beautiful poetic artistry with his words … poor Lenin just had no musical flare. How were his ears? Could he hear? Or was he tone deaf?

  2. Does he mean “bayan” (button accordion) or regular accordion? Because bayan is as modern as they come, it’s pretty complex musically and can probably easily take on a piano in terms of range and possibilities…

    Needless to say, I played bayan when I was growing up.

      1. dammit. Now I feel guilty and mean. I’m just biased. I play cello – and they don’t go well together.

  3. It’s neither – the passage in question deals with Tula where bayan will eventually develop, but now it’s called гармошка (harmonics) – which is a two-row button squeeze-box. It’ll still definitely kick cello’s butt, but eventually bayan will be three-row deal covering all 12-tones while harmonics was mostly “white keys” – good times!

  4. Lenin loved Kruskaya but also he also fell for a lady named Inessa. When Lenin and Inessa became close, Kruskaya said that she would leave, but Lenin wouldn’t hear anything about it and said he could not live without her. Kruskaya was very loyal. His relationship with Inessa ended when she died. Lenin was an attractive man to the ladies. But I didn’t know he had a love of accordions.

  5. I always thought that Lenin and Krupskaya were not “falling for each other” at all – he was going to Siberia and she was following him as a secretary type (a revolutionary comrade) and only by marrying would they be allowed to stay together. It wasn’t a love story, it was a simple pragmatic decision.

    1. Yes that is true, but they did become very close and dependent on one another which is why when Lenin fell in love with Inessa, Krupskaya offered to leave, but Lenin said that he would not hear of it and they remained together.

  6. I purchased a “starter” concertina about a year ago and have been teaching myself to play (it’s a 20 key Hohner). Posts like this one make me extra happy I did so. I was just thinking about having something to play while smoking a pipe down by the docks, but now it looks like I can bring it to revolutionary meetings as well!

  7. “A little known fact about Lenin is that he took great interest in accordions”.

    Out of interest, the book “Lenin lives!: the Lenin cult in Soviet Russia” mentions the Red Army’s Lenin Corners, saying that “Most Lenin Corners had a gramophone and an accordion or other musical instruments”.

    I recently switched to 5-row bayan from piano accordion. It’s a great instrument; wish I’d made the move years ago.

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