Posted 22 November 2004

“The Concertina Man”

Presented by Peter Day
Produced by Neil Koenig

BBC World Service
Broadcast 07 September 2004

“Charles Wheatstone was a classic inventor in the dynamic industrial atmosphere of nineteenth century Britain. An eminent scientist in the fields of electric telegraphy, electric clocks, typewriters and power generation, he also carried out a lifetime's research into acoustics and music. He invented the English Concertina , probably the only musical instrument to be invented in this country in the nineteenth century.

“This small hand held bellows or squeezebox, which is squeezed in and pulled out to create the airflow and then turned to amazing music by the complex fingering mechanism at either end, became a popular instrument. The genius of the performer allied with the genius of this small hand held instrument caught the public imagination and became a craze with hundreds of craftsmen and dozens of firms making the instrument. Small, portable and able to sound like half an orchestra in the best hands the English Concertina spread over the world, much easier to transport than for example the grand piano.

“In The Masterpiece Feature Peter Day unravels the history and the music of this wonderful instrument and hears it played whenever the opportunity arises. The Wheatstone Concertina is still being made under the Wheatstone name and the waiting list to be supplied with one is nearly five years. But you can at least hear it played in the Masterpiece Feature ‘The Concertina Man.’”

—BBC Summary

concertina-man-audio The Concertina Man
Presented by Peter Day,
Produced by Neil Koenig
BBC programme on the history and music of the concertina, focusing on its inventor Sir Charles Wheatstone as a somewhat belated recognition of his bicentenary in 2002. In addition to the presenter, Peter Day, the program features (in order of appearance) Bob Gaskins, Brian Bowers, Margaret Birley, Stephen Chambers, Frank James, Douglas Rogers, Sean Minnie, and Steve Dickinson. The program was produced by Neil Koenig. BBC World Service programme broadcast 07 September 2004. Audio file in WMA format. Time 22 mins 57 secs.
Posted 22 November 2004
» listen to audio in WMA format
» listen to audio in MP3 format

To listen to the programme, click on the link above; your computer should open your Windows Media player and play the audio. Or, to save the WMA file to the hard disk of your computer for later listening, right-click on the link and choose "Save Target As…".

The concertina pictured is a 48-key English concertina by C. Wheatstone, London, serial no. 649. It is made in Amboyna wood, a luxury finish which is discussed by Steve Dickinson and Bob Gaskins in the programme. It was originally sold on 18th April 1843 to Giulio Regondi, the virtuoso who is described in the programme by Douglas Rogers. This instrument is now in the collection of Stephen Chambers, who appears in the programme.

Charles Wheatstone blue plaque
Sir Charles Wheatstone’s
memorial blue plaque,
19 Park Crescent,
Regent’s Park


Audio Player Requirements

Links to related documents

wheatstone-patent-1829 Improvements in the Construction of Wind Musical Instruments (1829)
by Charles Wheatstone
British Patent No. 5803 of 1829, Specification (19 December 1829) with forty-five figures. 10 pages. "Improvements in the Construction of Wind Musical Instruments". The first of the Wheatstone patents to show a concertina, even though the word is not used in this specification.
Posted 15 November 2001
» read full document in pdf
wheatstone-patent-1844 Improvements in the Action of the Concertina, &c. by Vibrating Springs (1844)
by Charles Wheatstone
British Patent No. 10041 of 1844, Specification (7 August 1844) with eighteen figures. 24 pages. "Improvements in the Action of the Concertina, &c. by Vibrating Springs". The most important of the concertina patents, establishing the characteristic features of the English concertina.
Posted 15 November 2001
» read full document in pdf
wheatstone-homepage C. Wheatstone & Co.
Concertina Library directory of all information on this website about C. Wheatstone & Co.
Posted 01 January 2005
» go to directory