Hengel, Christy [Christian ]
- Ron Emoff
(b Wanda, MN, Dec 25, 1922; d New Ulm, MN, Dec 11, 2007). American maker and player of concertinas. Of Bohemian ancestry, he grew up listening to his mother, Anna Schroeder Hengel, sing German folk songs and popular tunes while accompanying herself on the organ. He was greatly influenced and inspired by concertina player “Whoopee” John Wilfahrt, also of Bohemian ancestry, whose recordings he heard as a child. At the age of 14 Hengel acquired his first button accordion, a mail-order Hohner factory-built instrument. He later switched to the Chemnitzer-style concertina (a bisonoric button instrument that sounds different pitches on the pushing in or pulling out of thee bellows). He never learned to read music instead playing entirely by ear. He performed with the Jolly Brewers Band and the Six Fat Dutchmen during the 1950s; he also played with Wilfahrt’s band. In 1953 Hengel acquired the entire contents of the Chicago factory of Otto Schlicht (maker of concertinas under the brand names Patek and Pearl), and in ...