The History of Musical Instruments of Canada
In his early teens Matt De Florio took accordion lessons and studied relentlessly. However, a visit to New York in the mid 40's changed everything when he had the opportunity to meet two accordion greats: Pietro Diero and Charles Magnante. These two players became a great inspiration and soon after Matt decided to begin a professional career in music. Upon returning to Toronto, he got a job at the Old Mill Restaurant where he played for the next three years. After leaving the Old Mill, he played in the prestigious Imperial Room at The Royal York Hotel for two years. He also took great pride in playing at the Horse Shoe Tavern alongside his friend Peter Appleyard, the up and coming jazz vibraphonist.
Matt often performed at CBC radio shows and many private engagements. However, the most memorable experience was the five years he played on the CBC Television show Holiday Ranch with Cliff McKay. A total of over two hundred shows were filmed in front of a live camera between 1953-1957. Matt played many solos and wrote his own arrangements for the group during that time. Holiday Ranch was host to many guest artists, which included singers Robert Goulet, Perry Como and Lorne Greene from the TV show Bonanza. On one occasion at the Canadian National Exhibition, Matt played a solo where Bob Hope made a guest appearance.
Matt also contributed to the accordion community by giving lessons and writing three books: Fun to Play the Accordion and Studio Method for the Accordion Books 1-2. In 1958, he left the spotlight to start his own business in Toronto that was originally called De Florio Imports. This began after meeting with a representative from an accordion factory in Castelfidardo, Italy. Later in the 60's, the business name was changed to Musical Instruments of Canada (MIC).
One of the main accomplishments of MIC was the development of the Lidovox organ accordion, which was the only one of its kind built in Canada. Over three hundred Lidovox electronic accordions were made up until 1978.
As technology advanced, MIC went on to sell a newer line of synthesized accordions called the Iorio Accorgan or Elkavox as it's also known. At one point they even had their own line of standard acoustic accordions with the brand names: Caruso, Lido, and De Florio. These finely crafted Italian accordions were sold mainly to the numerous accordion schools that existed in the 60's and 70's. The accordion was so in favor at this time, MIC ordered close to three hundred Paolo Soprani Accordions in a single shipment. They were packed in 50 crates made of pine and took over three hours to unload. These crates were then used to make the workbenches that are still in use today.
In the late 80's, Matt and Dixie Dean started the Canadian Accordion Club (CAC). The CAC enabled members to meet at one of the local hotels to share their common interest in the accordion. Many dinners and concerts took place and guest accordionist would perform regularly. Other meetings involved videos and CDs being played to entertain the members. The club was originally held at the Ramada Inn and remained under Matt's control for 14 years. MIC has been serving the accordion community in Toronto and across Canada for over 60 years.
The Musical Instruments of Canada name derived from the decision to carry an assortment of other instruments when the business first started, but Matt decided to specialize when he realized people were only coming in for the accordion. Although the Musical Instruments of Canada name is still in use today, the Accordions Canada moniker has now been adopted.
Matt's son Rudy joined the family business in 1966 as an accordion technician. Rudy now operates the store with his two sons, Chris and Shawn.
Matt De Florio (1922-2004)