Charles Magnante (1905–1986) was an American piano-accordionist, arranger, composer, author and educator. His artistry helped raise the image of the accordion from an instrument considered suitable only for folk music to an instrument accepted in many music genres.
Magnante's father was a well-known amateur musician, and performed at Italian wedding receptions and other dance venues. Charles sang along with his father beginning at the age of five years, and at the age of seven, he secretly learned to play his father's accordion. At the age of sixteen his reputation as an accordionist had grown so much he was receiving many offers to join tours with stage bands, which he declined due to his continuing musical studies.
Charles Magnante started his professional career playing in Italian restaurants and on the Staten Island Ferry. However, he wanted to break free from the O Sole Mio image of the stereotypical Italian-American accordionist which his audiences expected to hear. In the 1940s, he was the leader of a successful trio with guitarist Tony Mottola and organist George Wright, and played regularly on NBC radio broadcasts. He worked also as a sought-after studio musician. At the peak of his career, he played 30 live radio broadcasts and eight studio sessions each week. He performed also as a solo concert musician, and once performed a solo concert at the Civic Stadium of Buffalo, New York for an audience of 40,000.
Magnante was one of the twelve founding members of the American Accordionists' Association (founded in 1938), and also served as this organization's president for three terms .
Magnante wrote method books for accordion players and numerous arrangements of contemporary popular standards, schlagers and classical pieces. Many of his arrangements can still be found in the standard repertoire of accordionists throughout the world. His most famous original composition is probably the novelty Accordiana. His arrangements and compositions stretch across a number of musical genres, including easy listening, jazz and boogie-woogie, and light classical pieces.
Magnante was featured as accordion soloist on more than two dozen albums (many with studio orchestras), released by Columbia, Grand Award, Command Records, Decca Records, and other record labels.
- ACCORDION POPS CONCERT, COOK 1013
- HIS & HERS, COOK RECORDS 1014
- ACCORDIANA, HOLLYWOOD LPH 131
- ACCORDIANA, COLUMBIA RECORDS SET C-53
- ACCORDIANA Vol. II, COLUMBIA B-283
- FIESTA!, COMMAND RS 869 SD
- CARNIVAL, COMMAND RS 907 SD
- ROMAN ACCORDION, COMMAND RS 852 SD
- ROMANTIC ACCORDION, COMMAND RS 888 SD
- ACCORDION BELLICOSITY, COMMAND RSSD 971-2
- CHARLES MAGNANTE PLAYS THE ACCORDION, GRAND AWARD AAS-707
- MAGNANTE…IN CONCERT, GRAND AWARD GA 268 S
- POLKA PARTY, GRAND AWARD GA 33-323
- ROMAN SPECTACULAR, GRAND AWARD GA EP 20226
- ROMAN SPECTACULAR, GRAND AWARD GA 33-361
- ROMAN SPECTACULAR, GRAND AWARD GA 306 SD
- SPANISH SPECTACULAR, GRAND AWARD GA 33-379
- ROMAN CARNIVAL, GRAND AWARD GA 33-429
- MOODS FOR MODERNS, GRAND AWARD GA 33-413
- POLKA PARTY, WALDORF MUSIC HALL MH 45-155
- HOLIDAY IN PARIS, WALDORF MUSIC HALL MHK 33-1218
- ACCORDION VARIETY CONCERT VOLUME 1, V6490-10043
- ACCORDION ENCORES (cassette), MCR 1001
- VIRTUOSO ACCORDION (cassette), MCR 1000
- BOSTON RADIO INTERVIEW WGBH FM (cassette), WGBH FM RADIO
- 21 FAVORITES (cassette & book)
Magnante also appeared as guest accordionist with other artists, such as Marlene Dietrich.
- Annette Hanshaw, SONNY BOY (1928)
- Marlene Dietrich, LILLI MARLENE, DECCA 23456 (1945)
- Kenyon Hopkins His Orchestra & Chorus, MERRIMAC 751
Charles Magnante was married twice. He had a son and a daughter from his first marriage, from which he divorced. His second wife, Charlotte, was a professional musician, whom he met in Atlanta, Georgia. Charlotte Magnante died in 1997.
Magnante was an avid big game hunter; he wrote articles about his hunting trips which were published by hunting magazines.
- at Smithsonian Folkways Recordings