The accordion is a relatively young instrument. It was patented as late as 1829, by
Austrian Cyrillus Demian, and has since, gained a vast popularity. The accordion has been subjected to critique, as all other popular things, some has been fair, but mostly it has been unjust. Thank God, that the accordion is as respected of an instrument as the piano and violin these days, says Lars Holm. Not in the least due to pioneers such as the Danish Maestro Mogens Ellegaard, and now lately, Richard Galliano. Lars, could even have added his own name to the list of all those who have made the accordion a respected and unique instrument, which is as well renowned on the premier concert stages, as in smaller venues, all around the world.
He got his first accordion, a Paolo Soprani, by his loving mother, when he was 11 years old. The year was 1954, and the same year, Lars enrolled in a 10-week beginners course at the Skandia music school, in his home town of Gävle, Sweden. Very soon, this led to var-ious engagements at birthday parties, and other occasions, where entertainment was asked for. He practiced day, and night, and soon, he was a member of the Furuvik boy orchestra, where he played valve trombone. Lars also formed his own quartet, Lasse Holm Quartette, with which he had numerous engagements.
- Yes, we could have 50 engagements during the summer, and that is only counting the ones in Gävle, and in Furuvik. One got to experience all the great artists of the time, Jussi Björling, Swedish tenor extraordinaire, Svend Asmussen, Danish jazz violinist, Calle Jularbo, Swedish accordion legend, and so many more.
All the money earned, he spent on records and sheet music, which he among other places, bought from Walle Söderlunds well known specialist store in Stockholm, with a clear goal in his mind – learn more, and become a better musician. Among his idols were, Andrew Walter, Egil Hauge, and Mat Mathews. Then one day, Lars got to hear the world famous accordionist Mogens Ellegaard.
- I almost fell off the chair in amazement! Later, on a school trip to Copenhagen, Denmark, I contacted Mogens, and told him that I wanted to continue my accordion studies in Germany. Without his musical, and moral support, I would never have become the person I am today.
Four years (1964-1968) of studies at the mecca of accordion in Europe, the Hohner Konservatorium in Trossingen, Germany, followed. Here, Lars came in contact with a wealth of music. Thanks to his broad musical background, with experiences from Swedish folkmusic, via the dance music of the day, to jazz, Lars, almost instantly, got the call to join well renowned Süddeutscher Rundfunks orkester. He managed his studies without any economic support, due to his busy schedule.
- When Mogens asked me what I was going to do after my studies in Trossingen, I ans-wered, tentative that I probably would go back home to Gävle, and continue to work as an interior decorator. Ellegaard wanted none of that, instead he suggested that we should start a school together, which we did – Malmö Accordeon Studio. The progress was slow.
Malmö Accordeon Studio closed after a few years, and instead, Mogens became professor at the Royal Danish Academy of Music, where Lars also joined the faculty, teaching one day each week. A job he held for 17 years. In addition to teaching in Denmark, he began teaching at the Malmö Academy of Music, and the School of Culture, in his native Sweden. Writing method books was the next natural step, which in turn led to clinics, and master classes worldwide, from Reykavik to Rio de Janerio. Along with teaching, he has performed on TV, radio, lots of records and CDs, and of course, played in concert halls all around.
It is mainly thanks to my method books, that I have had the fortune to travel so much, and to meet people from all cultures, and traditions. I am convinced, that the reason my books are so well used, is the fact that the books are derived from my own experiences. The curiosity, and playfulness, is as big today, as it was half a century ago, when he struggled with his Paolo Soprani accordion, in his youth. One week can be lined with master classes in Germany, the week after, he could be going to Japan.
The reason I still think it is so irresistibly enjoyable, is mainly because I play all kinds of music. I have always dedicated myself to various styles, and I have toured with a wide range of artists. It would be impossible to say that one, or the other genre, is closer to my heart, rather, I almost love all different types of music, and genres. Also, it’s incredibly funny, and rewarding, to play with others, which I always emphasize, as you invariably always learn something new. That is perhaps also the secret behind the fact, that I have done so well as a teacher.
Lars is just bursting of enthusiasm, and energy. To be able to sit down and talk with him, is like reading an exciting book. With a great sense of humour, he is happy to tell you about his fantastic life, of his travels, concerts, encounters with students, and colleagues all around the world.
- I am very privileged to have had the opportunity to meet, and get to know many of my idols, Lars admits shyly. I met Sivuca in his home in Rio, and Marcel Azzola, Richard Galliano, and Frank Marocco, has visited me and my wife Kajsa, in our home in Malmö. My new album, is a/an homage to some of those, who have meant so much to me. A varied collection, perhaps, but that is just like my life, varied, and exciting.