L.A. Now
3.9 earthquake rattles Los Angeles area


Virgil Thomson
The accordion holds a lofty place
The accordion holds a lofty place

MOST people think of the accordion, if they think of it at all, as a social instrument, wheezing out polkas and folk tunes. The sound of it brings to mind French cafes, Mexican plazas, German beer gardens, Argentine nightclubs. Nick Ariondo, perhaps the premier accordionist in Los Angeles, notes that the instrument's portability and its ability to play "everything: melody, chords and accompaniment" have made it popular all over the world. But the accordion is not just an instrument of the people. As Samuel Zyman, a New York composer and a faculty member at the Juilliard School, puts it: "There is a significant serious classical repertoire written for accordion, plus an...