Guido Deiro
Panama Pacific Exposition

Pan Pacific Exposition, Balboa Park, San Diego
Guido Deiro -- under awning -- at the Panama Pacific Exposition, Balboa Park, San Diego, 1916
(Click on image to enlarge - 101 KB)

Of particular interest to California accordion fans is that apparently for years the story has been that Pietro won the Gold Medal at the 1915-1916 Panama Pacific Exposition. Well that turns out to be incorrect also. We have turned up a wonderful photo of Guido Deiro (above) playing to a crowd of 8,000 at the Exposition and there is a San Diego Union Tribune newspaper story (below) confirming the size of the audience along with an ecstatic review of his playing, as well as the original letter from the Pan Pacific Commission awarding the medal to Guido Deiro.

The 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition opened simultaneously in San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle to celebrate the opening of these great ports to the East Coast by the construction of the Panama Canal. It is not possible to overestimate the importance of the canal to the United States and particularly California. The Panama Canal was an engineering marvel which significantly shortened the distance (by almost 8000 miles), length of time and safety required to transport goods and people by sea from the eastern United States and was a major impetus to the development of trade routes. The great fair also commemorated the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the Pacific Ocean by the Spanish conquistador and explorer, Vasco Núñez de Balboa (1475-1519).

Large exposition grounds were cleared and grand permanent structures on the lines of the New York World's Fair were constructed by Japan and various other Pacific countries and large corporations to demonstrate their cultures and products. Some of these magnificent buildings exist today in San Diego's Balboa and San Francisco's Exposition Parks. The Exposition opened in 1915 and ran for several years. Dad appeared in the summer of 1916 in San Diego.

In the archive is the dated and captioned photo and the letter from the Exposition Committee awarding the Gold Medal and the Souvenir Booklet and the newspaper reviews. Apparently there was a musical competition sponsored by the Exposition and Guido won the gold medal. He mentioned this to me on several occasions. He donated this medal and others he won (I am trying to find out what they were and for what) to the Italian war effort in the Thirties. We have those photos and an article in the archive.

Count Guido Roberto Deiro, July 2001, Las Vegas, Nevada

News Clipping - ca. July 1916


Careless folks who didn't glance at their programs at the Hippodrome last night did not know that the young man with the winning smile and the wonderful ability to sway the spirit of his audience with accordion music ranging form classics of dazzling technique to the compelling syncopations of popular selections, was Guido Deiro, acknowledged to be the world master of this odd musical instrument.

The audience wrung encore after encore from Deiro, with an enthusiasm that is seldom seen in a vaudeville house. This is a tribute to the public, for it shows that it recognizes ability, even though sometimes accused of "looking first at the label."

Deiro's engagement at the Hip, which is for a week, is by way of an introduction in San Diego. His primary purpose in coming here is to present a series of muscales at the exposition, at which time he is to explain some of the mysteries of the inner mechanism of the piano-accordion. The instrument is one of complicated construction, and the story of the evolution of the old three-stop wheeze box to the modern melody maker, the best of which cost more than a piano of popular make, is an interesting one.

Deiro, when 15 years old, saw his first piano. He was living in Italy and saw the piano when at a party to a rich man's house. It was then he evolved the idea of applying the keyboard principle to his favorite instrument, and ever since has been working on modifications that have brought the piano-accordion to its recognition as an instrument worthy of serious recognition in the musical world.

"Everywhere -- at dance halls and in orchestras -- the accordion is being used in the east," declared Deiro today, in predicting that the instrument is to soon gain great popularity.

Guido Deiro Scrapbook No. 1, page 41

San Diego Union - July 10, 1916

It was a big day at the Exposition. The crowd was one of the best of the year and was estimated at better than 8,000. . . . Guido Deiro, piano accordionist, was one of the hits of the day. Deiro gave a half-hour concert of classical numbers, without even a ragtime selection as an encore. So insistent was the crowd that Deiro had one of the hardest afternoons of his career, and when he concluded the warmth of the afternoon and his exertions had given him the appearance of a man who had taken a shower bath fully clothed.

Guido Deiro Scrapbook No. 1, page 36

News Clipping - San Diego, July 12, 1916

San Diego, Cal., July 12

Diero, the accordionist, put another notch to his record here when he captured the gold medal and certificate offered by the Exposition officials for the winner of the musical contest. Diero grabbing the prize with a Guerrini accordion (manufactured in San Francicso).

A crowd of 8,000 people witnessed the contest, and the decision was a popular one.

Guido Deiro Scrapbook No. 1, page 43

Click Here (205 KB) to see three historic articles and photograph about Deiro's conquest of winning the gold medal during July 1916 at the San Diego Exposition, including one article which tells how some of Deiro's friends arrived too late to hear him perform, so he graciously agreed to give them a private concert through the telephone the next morning from his hotel room.

Click Here (102 KB) to see a July 1916 San Diego Union article which confuses Guido with Pietro, even though the person pictured in the photograph is plainly Guido.

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