For such a young instrument, the accordion is a truly democratic instrument. It was the first instrument that made music available to everyone as it was light to carry. Up to its invention, music could only be heard by the wealthy. With the advent of the accordion, the music went out to everyone for the first time.
The first accordion was patented in 1829 by Cyril Demian, in Vienna. This instrument merely had a left hand buttonboard, with the right hand operating the bellows. The key to the patent was the sounding of an entire chord by pressing one key. This was followed in 1844 by Charles Wheatstone who was the first to squeeze both chords and the keyboard together in one squeezebox. Wheatstones patent was called a concertina. The accordion as we know it had arrived.
During the Napoleonic wars the people literally carried their cultures on their backs, across continents, in this little squeezebox. It’s easy to play and can be learned by ear. It’s also easy to translate music from other instruments to it, like Irish Traditional music for example. Each country has its own social history attached to it.