The Cotati Accordion Festival’s 1992 Honorary Director
Patriarch, Visionary, Musician
by Peter DiBono
BORN IN OMAHA, NEBRASKA, OF German parents, Ernst Otto Christian Gloe demonstrated an early and natural love for music – particularly accordion music. “The warm tones of the accordion and the feeling of being able to be inside the tone,” began a lifelong love affair with his beloved instrument. No event or person in Ernst’s early years can be singled out as the reason for his profound love of music. He recalls, however, that very early on, the listening to music caused intense stirrings deep within him.
Mother, Marta Ernst Gloe, was not
Formal music instruction was begun at age eleven. Since no accordion teachers were available in Omaha, Ernst’s first music lessons were with an Italian violinist, Maestro Mazzeri. The teacher imparted a sound basis in music theory and harmony as it could be applied with the right hand, treble keyboard. However, knowledge of the left hand, the bass keyboard, Ernst Gloe and a labyrinth to Mezzari, was a puzzle which Ernst had to learn for himself. Undaunted, he slowly began deciphering the maze of buttons and soon was providing chordal accompaniments to the melodies played by his right hand. This humble beginning has yielded one of the preeminent and recognized authorities of
Progress was made very quickly and soon Ernst was the highlight of family gatherings and neighborhood parties. Local talent contests were regular fare and Ernst was the perennial favorite amazing the judges with his impressive technique and seeming mastery of his instrument. The repertoire of German and Italian folk music and the popular “
His parents’ selfless devotion to the needs of the aspiring musician led to the decision in 1928 to leave Omaha. They had learned that San Francisco was becoming the West Coast center of accordion manufacture and activity in the United States. It was hoped that Ernst could study under the fabled accordion virtuoso, Anthony Galla-Rini, who resided there. After settling in Alameda, an interview was arranged with Maestro Galla-Rini, alas, his performance schedule precluded commitment. All was not lost however, Maestro Galla Rini recommended and endorsed Mr. Angelo Cagnazzo as a fine accordionist who might be available as a teacher for Ernst.
Mr. Cagnazzo required
Ernst relates the story of first meeting his private teacher at Eastman. The man’s name was Ormay, a fine pianist and conductor.
It was, however, a most valuable experience because through it Ernst learned the inner intricacies of the accordion – knowledge which would serve him well for the entirety of his career. The four years required to attain the Bachelor of Arts in Music degree helped mature and further refine the musical sensibilities of Ernst Gloe.
As fate would have it, the year was 1942 when Ernst entered the Army. He applied to the Armed Force Orchestra and was assigned to report for training as a weatherman. He attained the rank of Top Sergeant, but confirmation was delayed until his last month of service. “They probably did that to avoid giving me the extra pay,” he says with a chuckle.
After the war, Ernst acquired the prized Master of Arts, Music degree and appropriate teaching credentials from UC Berkeley. He was busy the following years, teaching and performing in San Francisco. He taught
Ernst Gloe retired eight years ago to a gentlemen’s horse ranch in Windsor, Sonoma County, where he lives with Sherry, his wife of many years. His parents owned and lived on the property for twenty-eight years before their passing. He loves looking out across the acres of vineyard land surrounding his and hopes never to see it developed. His health has taken the spring from his step, but his smile, sharp wit, and passion for his beloved accordion are as ever. He teaches privately on a limited basis and is beginning work on a book to explain the theory of accordion as he has discovered it.
In recognition of his lifelong contribution to the arts, and especially the accordion, we are deeply honored to celebrate Mr. Ernst Gloe as the 1992 Honorary Director of this, The 2nd Annual Cotati Accordion Festival.