On behalf of my brother and family I would like to thank all of you for being here to pay tribute to the life of Carmen Carrozza and to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the American Accordionists Association.
Also a special thanks to Linda Soley, President of the AAA, and all the talented artists performing this afternoon.
Carmen Carrozza loved life, he was the most passionate and disciplined man I will probably ever know – a true force of nature….
He was a husband, father, brother, uncle, composer, teacher.. and the role that gave him the most joy… a grandfather to his 4 grandchildren, Joseph, Sofia, Derek and Lucas.
But … the true essence of Carmen Carrozza was that he was an exceptionally gifted musician.
When he was a young boy, he and the accordion found each other and began a lifelong relationship that became the driving force in his life. From humble beginnings he went on to be recognized as the greatest classical accordionist.
Music carried him to the heights of his career and thru all the challenges in his life. Even when he could no longer perform, it was music that kept him vibrant. His passion for the accordion was overwhelming. So much so that my brother and I had a running joke that there were actually 5 of us in our immediate family: my mother, my father, my brother, me, and the accordion.
His devotion and respect for the accordion was unwavering, as evidenced by his lifelong endeavor to elevate it to its rightful status as a serious classical instrument.
My brother gave a speech several years ago in tribute to our dad and said “ When he strapped on the accordion, he and the instrument became one, the bellows became his breath, the music came from his soul ” – this is so true. The moment he began to play the first note and closed his eyes, he was transported to a magical place, and if you were lucky enough to hear him perform, he took you along for the ride. The intimacy between artist and instrument was extraordinary.
Someone once said to me after hearing my dad perform Chopin’s “Fantasie Improptu” , that they felt like they just had a religious experience. It was as if he surrendered to the music and let it flow thru him. For him, music expressed what words couldn’t describe.
He of course was passionate about the classics, but he thoroughly enjoyed performing all types of music, whether on stage, at a nursing home, a wedding, or a family gathering, the joy he radiated while playing the accordion was infectious.
He was a pioneer –performing original works, and collaborating with many composers like Paul Creston, Virgil Thompson, Alan Hohvannes : he was recognized as a virtuoso by Arthur Fiedler and Andre Kostelanetz - - his performance of Paul Creston’s Concerto for Accordion and Orchestra performed with the Boston Pops, is a benchmark of technical and artistic achievement, a true masterpiece. His accomplishments and accolades are too long to list, yet, thru it all he remained humble, for he believed he was given a special gift that he wanted to share with the world. When he was interviewed in 2007 he said his dream was “ to see the accordion back in the limelight”. I know he would want his music to continue to inspire and encourage new compositions for the accordion. He was a past President of the AAA and remained a supporting member of the organization that meant so much to him.
He was very proud that The Carrozza Scholarship fund was established to promote and support young artists - and speaking of young artists, he would be so proud to know that his greatniece Gia Ciccone was competing here in her first contest!
As we were growing up, my father practiced for hours in his music room – so my brother and I had the privilege of listening to the classics performed by a master, we had our own private concerts. We were so lucky to have had this experience, for it was the most beautiful music we ever heard, and it instilled in us an appreciation for our father as a true artist, and the accordion as a complete, versatile and unique instrument. We are so proud to have had him as a father.
I cannot speak about my dad without mentioning my mom. She was the general behind the scenes who protected him, cared for him and supported him in every way. I don’t think he could have accomplished all that he did without her. They were a great team.
We miss my father very much, but he will always be in our hearts, and we are comforted knowing that his spirit will forever live on in his music and dedication to the instrument that he truly loved.
I would like to end with a quote from Plato, that my father would have truly appreciated.
“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination
and life to everything.”