Turpeinen (1909-1958) was the best-known Finnish-American
accordionist of her time. She toured widely in Finnish communities
and made a large number of recordings with the violinist John
Rosendahl and her own orchestra. She was probably the first
woman in the world to record accordion solos.
She was a beautiful woman with blue Finnish eyes and light
brown hair. She wore colourful dresses and often had a flower
in her hair when she played. Her name VIOLA was boldly embroidered
on her piano accordion. Her repertoire consisted mostly of
Finnish dance music, but she also played Italian virtuoso
accordion pieces and arrangements of classical music. Her
own favorite was the overture from Rossini's "The Barber
Viola Irene Turpeinen was born November 15, 1909 in Champion,
Michigan. Her mother Signe Viitala was born in the same town
in 1892. Her father Walter Turpeinen, a miner, was born in
Kivijarvi, Finland. Viola had two sisters. When she was a
child, the family moved to Iron River, Michigan. Across the
street from their home on Cedar Avenue was Bruno Hall, the
meeting hall of Italian immigrants. Viola would often hear
the strains of accordion music emanating from the hall, and
whenshe was fourteen, her father bought her a two-row accordion.
She later on switched to the piano accordion. Her first teacher
was an Italian named Bianchi from the nearby town of Caspian.
Soon she was playing for dances at Bruno Hall and the local
Finnish Workers' Hall. Subsequently she continued her studies
at the Piersante School of Accordion in Chicago.