The Legacy of an Accordionist: Teaching a Younger Generation

by Sheri Mignano Crawford, Student Stage Coordinator

The First Annual Rosa and Anthony Facciuto Scholarship will be awarded to a student accordionist at the 2019 Cotati Accordion Festival.1 It is made possible by the coordinated efforts of Rosa Facciuto’s son James B. Logg and Joe Petosa, Jr. The scholarship honors Logg’s mother Rosa and Anthony Facciuto. The recipient of this $500 scholarship will go to the student who earns the top score in this year’s Student Stage competition. For the past several years, fundraising has enabled the festival to award various monetary awards but the number of scholarships was predicated on fluctuating donations. It is with great pleasure that the festival announces an annual scholarship award to recognize the First Place Winner. This year’s top-scoring student will receive this award in honor of the late Anthony Facciuto, a Seattle-born accordion teacher and Rosa, his wife of twenty-eight years.

Facciuto with his accordion studio, March 1950.

Maestro Facciuto was born March 1918. It was a fortuitous beginning as four years later Seattle became home to Petosa Accordions, one of America’s most famous accordion manufacturers. Carlo Petosa (1892-1959) founded the company and opened its doors in 1922. He had served an apprenticeship in the Guerrini factory in San Francisco and brought his business acumen, technical knowledge and love of the accordion to Seattle.2 Carlo’s son Joe Petosa Sr. (1925-2005) learned with hands-on instruction from his father; it enabled the family to excel at building, repairing, and perfecting the accordion. While growing up and working in the factory, Joe learned to play the accordion from Joe Parente and Anthony Facciuto. His role as a teacher strengthened the Petosa legacy and helped to establish Seattle as a principal hub for the piano accordion.

Anthony Facciuto with his Petosa-built “Gian Scala.”

Accordionists are not born, they are made. Good teachers combine with a student’s dedication and hard work. At first, Facciuto studied with Giuseppe Beltramo (1903-1993) at the Beltramo School of Music on Horton Street in Seattle. Beltramo was a master violinist who taught accordion, piano and violin and who had also taught accordion to Joe Petosa, Jr. from age 7 to 19. After studying with Beltramo, Facciuto began to seek out studios where he joined the instructional music staff. In the early 1940s, he started teaching accordion at the Frank Iacolucci Accordion Headquarters in Tacoma. 4 However, the war temporarily interrupted his plans to have his own studio. He went to the war where he served in the 706th Tank Battalion in the Pacific Theater.

When he returned to Seattle, he maintained a socially and musically active life in several Italian cultural organizations serving as president, and as an officer and in the Italian Club of Seattle and the West Side Italian Civic Club. His entertainment schedule kept him fully engaged in the VFW and the American Legion.5 His music teaching career became busier, due to Baby Boomer teenagers wanting to learn accordion, and he managed his own studio, started to raise a family, and continued to perform. His lifetime devotion to the accordion was shared by his musical colleagues including one of his closest friends, Joe Petosa, Sr. who appeared as a witness on Facciuto’s marriage certificate when he married Rosa La Pointe in 1984.

Rosa and Anthony Facciuto

When most musicians would have taken some time off for the obligatory retirement phase, he remained quite active both at home and as an accordion teacher. He enjoyed gardening and raising flowers in the backyard, especially Dahlias. According to one of his students, he was both a patient gardener and a great teacher.6 Griff Ziegler appreciated Facciuto’s mild-mannered personality during his lessons and that he was “never meant to feel like a dummy.” His methodology and emphasis on fundamentals helped to build a useful foundation and performance skills. According to Ziegler, he integrated scales, arpeggios, and inversions and relied on Palmer-Hughes graded books. These structured lessons were always balanced with Italian favorites such as “Arrivederci Roma.” Facciuto’s teaching legacy was not lost on Mr. Ziegler who taught accordion to an even younger generation.

It has been more than a century since the piano accordion arrived on the West Coast. Anthony Facciuto was fortunate to have given so much of his talents during the decades when the accordion experienced its greatest popularity. His second marriage to his wonderful wife and her son James encouraged him to stay musically active well into his retirement. While he died three weeks shy of his 94th birthday, it is nice to know that his love of the accordion lives on and is forever tied to generations of students. Through a generous donation in perpetuity to the scholarship fund, students will be inspired to pursue their accordion studies. As the festival moves into its third decade, we are confident that this on-going gift will help to sustain the future of the accordion by investing in students who will become future performers at the Cotati Accordion Festival.

1 A special thank you goes to James B. Logg (Mrs. Rosa Facciuto’s son) and in appreciation to Joe Petosa, Jr. for contributing photographs, providing background information, and working with Mr. Logg.
2 Ed Davison, Golden Age of the Accordion, 286.
3 21 November 2011, letter from Joe M. Petosa. Carlo Petosa co-founded Zero Sette in 1945; and email from Joe Petosa, Jr., 15 March 2019.
4 Kurt Armbruster, Before Seattle Rocked: A City & Its Music. University of Washington Press: Seattle, WA. 2011. 200.
5 Northwest Accordion News, Vol. 22, No.2, Summer 2012, 12.
6 Phone interview with Sheri Mignano Crawford, 7 March 2019.