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Accordion Museum Offers Slice of New York Past Amid Times Square Glitz

By Alan Neuhauser | March 20, 2013 9:29am

TIMES SQUARE — A slice of Old-World Europe sits beneath the Technicolor screens of Times Square — an accordion repair shop and museum that has attracted top musicians from around the world even as other music shops have departed Manhattan's Music Row.

"When they have a real problem with their accordion, they come here," said Alex Carozza, president of Alex Musical Instruments on West 48th Street, which has been around for close to 40 years. "We've worked on accordions all our life."

The three-floor space includes a repair shop on its top-two floors, and a museum on the second story, where gleaming accordions and bandoneons from as early as 1890 line glass-enclosed shelves, fronted by red-velvet ropes.

"My father used to make accordions. I was crazy about accordions when I was 6, 7 years old," said Carozza, who lives in Midtown but hails from Italy. "Once, he let me play, then put the accordion away and locked the box and said, 'Now, you study.'

"I made a fake key," he added. "I would play when he was out of the house."

World-renown accordionists from Mario Tacca to Angelo DiPippo seek out Carozza, who builds custom accordions in-house and at a factory he owns in Italy, and his three-man team, which also sells and repairs guitars.

"I'm here six days a week — not because I need it. I want to retire, but they won't let me," Carozza said.

He asked not to disclose his age, saying only that he was approaching 90. He looks much younger, but one customer who dropped off an accordion at Alex Musical Instruments returned "two hours later and told me he prayed for me at St. Patrick's," Carozza said with a laugh.

"He said, 'I don't know what I'd do without you,'" he added.

The shop is open Monday to Saturday. The museum is open by appointment.