Towards the end of the 18th century, the family Sopranilived and worked
at the border between the municipalties of Recanati and Castelfidardo.
This family started and developed a previously unknown business,
which in a few years became relevant in the area and throughout Italy:
the manufacturing and the production of button accordions.
The first studio was opened by Paolo Soprani,
who started his great adventure in 1863, in his farmhouse near the river Musone
and who was supported by his brothers Nicola, Pasquale and Settimio and the neighboring farmers.
Later, Paolo moved his workshop to the centre of Castelfidardo,
in the bigger rooms of Palazzo Gentili.
Since sales volume rose rapidly and accordions were requested all over Italy,
the cooperation between Paolo Soprani and his brothers lasted a very short time.
Each brother opened his own business and started to produce accordions in small
workshops in the area of Castelfidardo and Recanati.
The first brother who abandoned Paolo’s workshop was Settimio, who in 1885, aged 25,
opened a studio in via Cavour in Castelfidardo.
The accordion industry started to get really successful between the end of the 19th century
and the first years of the 20th: during these years there was an increase in production,
in the number of employees and the accordion of Castellidardo became famous overseas,
thanks to the artisans who migrated mainly to North America.
Castelfidardois currently considered the home of accordions.
On the eve of World War I,the two main Soprani companies took different paths:
Paolo, after the great results achieved at the end of the nineteenth century, decided to keep the business as it was,
without increasing its scope; on the other side, Settimio aimed at increasing his business,
also thanks to the managerial skills of Mario Soprani,
Settimio’s son. Who, in a short lime, was able to turn the small workshop
into an important company.
Mario travelled a lot in Europe and in America. He managed to create an advanced commercial
network with clients and distributors in countries all over the world.
Already in the early thirties he had
commercial contacts with the German company HONER,
so that both companies were undisputed market leaders for a long time.
Most of the Settimio Soprani company’s sales were abroad:
France, Switzerland, England, the United States, Belgium, Argentina,
Brazil, South Africa and Australia. Several initiatives were undertaken by Mario.
In 1936 the new plant was inaugurated, that plant was named after
his father Settimio and was not far from the one managed by his uncle Paolo.
In the same year he invited the famous Italian-American
accordionist Pietro Oeiro, who visited the new plant and performed
in the room “Salone degli Stemmi” of the Municipal Palace:
that initiative was a massive success.
In the following years, before Italy entered the war, the national export volume
of accordions reached record levels:
Castelfidardo was the production leader for that sector in Italy, with twenty-two active plants.
The company Settimio Soprani shipped one thousand accordions per month to America.
Another prestigious work of Mario Soprani was the building of the modern and
luxurious villa Settimio Soprani,
which is composed of vast rooms, offering maximum comfort.
The villa was designed as a residential house for the Soprani family,
but was also used to host the foreign customers visiting Castelfidardo,
where at that time there were still no hotels.
To Mario we also owe the documentary titled “Ii paese delle fisarmoniche” (the land of accordions},
produced by the lnstituto Nazionale Luce in 1939 and directed by Giovanni Vernuccio.
The documentary tells the origin and the development of the accordion in Castelfidardo.
It opens with the legend, according to which a young Paolo Soprani covertly stole an accordion
from a young pilgrim who resided in his farmhouse:
It shows the town of Castelfidardo and the company Settimio Soprani.
the accordionist Gervasio Marcosignori, already a child prodigy, was also part of the film.
Mario died in Rome at the age of 54, leaving the economic, social and political stage too soon.
At his funeral, to bid him farewell, there were his friends, those who knew him, all the cititzens,
those who worked in the company Settimio Soprani. He devoted his whole life to his company, which
created wealth and job vacancies in the small town of the Marches and made his name famous all
over the world. He gave so much to his hometown: he was a skilled hierarch, a great citizen and a
tireless worker. That year more than eight hundred workers were employed at the plant.
Mario Soprani was succeded by his 28-year-old son, Paolo Settimio, born in Recanati on the 21st of November 1913.
He was an only child and was raised by his father to be a future manager,
he attended the school “Collegio Pergolesi” in Jesi,
in 1928 Paolo Settimio moved to England, where he attended a school for foreigners to learn English.
The following year he moved to Leipzig to learn the German language. He frequently travelled
abroad with his father. He was a very educated and intelligent man, a real businessman, thanks to his skills,
experience and education, a foreward-thinking and economically thoughtful mananger.
After having expanded his technical and industrial knowledge,
Paolo Settimio became a worthy successor to his father.
In the first months of 1949, his father Mario set up a company in Milano to sell accordions. After the war,
Paolo Settimio resumed his father’s initiative.
He changed the name of the previous company into FARFISA SPA, Fabbriche Riunite Fisarmoniche and
merged his company with the firm of the
brothers Scandalli of Camerano and the one of Nazzareno Fontalini from Numana.
The merger of the three companies was
designed to eliminate competition between them, rationalize the existing plants and improve production.
After nine months of cooperation, the partner Frontalini abandoned the company because of different
managerial views. In 1948 about 850 were employed in the plants of Camerano,
Castelfidardo and in the administrative and technical headquarter in Ancona.
With the mechanization of the manufacturing process, production rapidly increased and the musical
instrument became an industrial product. In the FARFISA plants, special departments for the
experimental production of professional and high quality musical instruments were created.
Here instruments such as the Artist VI Soprani were manufactured, a real work of art still valued and
apprieciated by professionals. Its first version was made by Gervasio Marcosignori and it is still produced today.
Paolo Settimio was several times manager and chief executive officer for the FARFISA group and
in the late fifties, following the drop in sales volumes for accordions, lauched a project of production
diverification, by promoting studies on electronics applied to musical instruments. In 1964 he began a cooperation
with a German piano manufacturer. A few months later the FARFISA group had its own autonomous piano production.
In this period the intercom production line was also started and it was a great success.
Another new item manufactured by FARFISA was the electric organ.
On the 28th of March 1965 Settimio Soprani inaugurated the new FARFISA headquarters
in Aspio Terme, in Camerano, before the authorities and the honorable member Danilo de Cocci,
as representative of the government, who praised the company’s work, courage and tenacity.
In this plant new electric organ models were manufactured, while the sector of telecommunications and
electronics expanded considerably. Such rapid expansion and the international success attracted the attention of an
important American multinational company, the LEAR SINGLE CORPORATION. In 1965 Paolo Settimio met with the American company’s C.E.O.,
who joined the FARFISA group, invested more than one billion Italian lire in it and became the
For the FARISA GROUP that was the greatest period of growth and expansion,
so that the record number of 1620 employees was reached. Over time many musicians and singers visited the FARFISA plant.
The Carovana del Cantagiro visited Aspio Terme several times and introduced the music and the artists of the seventies to the Marche scene.
During the Compact Duo inauguration, which was the most famous electric organ in the world, played by the Pink Floyd and Doors,
the FARFISA most-pleasant-Cantagiro-artist-Prize was launched. The judging panel was composed of Renato Rashall, Ezio Ravaelli and Claudio Occhiena.
Several prizes were offered. In that period FARISA was one of the main European centers for the production of musical instruments.
Since the company had by then reached economic stability and had excellent growth prospects, in 1970 Paolo Settimio retired from work
and left the FARFISA group.
Until 1956 Paolo Settimio lived in the luxurious villa of Castelfidardo together with his family, then he moved to Ancona.
Paolo Settimio married Adriana Volpini from Porto Recanati in Loreto on the 30th of September 1940, with whom he had two children: Mario born in 1942 and Giuseppe in 1947.
As the father wished, none of them worked
in the accordion industry.
Paolo Settimio loved the sea, cars, hunting and sports; he was very close to his family and enjoyed spending time with his children at the seaside.
His great passion for cars led him to follow motorsport racings and even to personally
take part in three editions of the Mille Miglia race in different competitions.
He amazingly ranked third with his Lancia GT an the Mille Miglia.
The racer Luigi Fagioli from Osimo ran off the road on a cursed curve in Montecarlo driving his Lancia Aurelia B21 on the 31st of May and died a few days later
as a result of the injuries sustained. Paolo Settimio was there to take care of his friend at the hospital.
The Soprani name in Castelfidardo has always been linked to the production of
accordions, to the memory of great arisans who, with their products, have crossed the word and eras.
Nowadays the accordion brand Settimio Soprani is still existing and its historical models are still
manufactured with the care and the artisan quality of the past.