Last night we were invited to have dinner with Cornelia’s family at her sister Barbara’s house. Also there were Barbara’s husband Claudio, their son Caspar and his partner Fabienne, and Cornie’s sister Ursula. We had a delicious traditional Swiss meal of melted slices of raclette cheese, served on a plate with potatoes, pickles, tomatoes and sliced meat. There were various types of raclette cheese to choose from – raclette with chili, with port wine, with peppercorns, with curry etc – and it was good fun melting it at the table. I loved it.
After dinner Claudio introduced us to his great passion: repairing and playing old piano accordions and squeezeboxes. Being a music lover, I was quite fascinated to see the inner workings of a squeezebox and find out how the sounds are made and fine tuned. Claudio has rescued many of these musical instruments and brought them back to full working order. Some were destined for the scrap heap, and others found in flea markets and secondhand stores. Many are in the range of one hundred years old, so the leather and other parts of the instruments are beginning to perish when Claudio gets his hands on them, and each one is treated with loving care as he carefully restores and retunes it.
Claudio has designed and built a machine for the purpose of retuning the old squeezeboxes. The delight on his face as he demonstrated how it worked was plain to see, and we were treated to some of his playing on a range of instruments so we could hear the different notes that could be made on different types of accordion. Upstairs, we saw the rest of his collection – it was like being in a squeezebox museum. Fantastic!
We had a really enjoyable evening with Cornie’s family, made even better with some traditional Swiss food and traditional Swiss music.