(1936 to18 October 2020)

Wallace LiggettWallace Liggett in the latter years before retirement was teaching music in schools. His broad musical and academic attainment's coupled with an extensive association with accordionists in New Zealand, meant that Wallace Liggett was ideally qualified to accept a commission from the New Zealand Accordion Association Inc (NZAA). to research and write the book titled "The History of the Accordion in New Zealand."

These same skills mean that Wallace is also ideally qualified to be the Moderator of the Accordions Worldwide Celebrity Interviews when these were first started in 1999.

Wallace Liggett was born in Auckland in 1936, the same year that a drawback duty was removed from most imported accordions. Perhaps an omen for his future associations with the instrument? His first musical instruction was on a piano when he was taught by Eileen Langham. After about two years tuition he turned to other interests, until persuaded by a friend to purchase an accordion and join the Auckland Society of Accordionists Orchestra, at the time directed by Bruce Somerville.

A short time after this he was to meet and then study accordion with Allan Jones. This instruction introduced Wallace to a level of technique and musical interpretation, although more common in top accordionists of today, was unknown Wallace Liggettat that time. The realisation of this was to motivate Wallace to hours of practice, that within about five years established him as the leading New Zealand concert accordionist of the day. He was the first New Zealander to play and record using free bass accordion on National Radio.

Picture right: Wallace Liggett at the 2009 South Pacific & New Zealand Accordion Championships. Since then he has recorded for both the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation and the Australian Broadcasting Commission. He holds both the New Zealand Accordion Association Teachers Certificate and the Associate Teachers Certificate of the Accordion Society of Australia, as well as a Bachelor of Arts, Diploma of Education and Masters in Education. His Bachelor of Arts had a history major plus an extra history unit as an elective. Wallace Liggett is also an Associate of the Institute of Registered Music Teachers and a Registered Secondary School Teacher. He was appointed an examiner for the Accordion Examination Board of New Zealand in 1992.

In 2011, Wallace Liggett was made a Life Member of the NZAA for all his services to the accordion in New Zealand at the 40th Anniversary of the NZAA. An update to the book "The History of the Accordion in New Zealand" was completed for this event too. The update is available in digital format with the book.

John Statham and Wallace Liggett
Picture above: Presentation of Life Membership by NZAA President John Statham to Wallace Liggett in 2011.

In September 2011, Wallace Liggett moved to Australia and into semi-retirement and a few years later full retirement.
Heather Masefield and Wallace Liggett
NZAA Secretary Heather Masefield and Wallace Liggett in front of part of the 40th NZAA Anniversary display at the South Pacific Accordion Championships.

Wallace Liggett's non musical activities range from having built several houses to alternative medicine, in which he holds diplomas in natural therapies and osteopathy. A regular jogger and ballroom and Latin American dancer, he has also enjoyed sailing his sixteen foot skiff and was top slalom water skier at the Australian university he attended.

Wallace's musical activities include concert performances and recordings on accordion, piano, synthesiser, electronic accordion and percussion, and his arrangements and compositions have been played in New Zealand and overseas. His compositions include pieces for piano, guitar, orchestral instruments and accordion, some of which have been selected as test pieces at the New Zealand Accordion Championships.

WL1000 - Waltz Away
WL1001 - Step Two Three
WL1002 - Hot Foot Polka
WL1003 - March
WL1004a - Sandy's Waltz Duet
WL1005 - Metronome March
WL1008 - Winners Waltz
WL1008a - Winners Waltz
WL1009 - Accordion Tarantella
WL1015 - Jazz Boogie
WL1016 - Sandy's Waltz solo
WL1020 - Taniwha Boogie
WL1030 - Students
WL1031 - Polka For Two
WL1032 - Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra or Accordion
WL1033 - Partners Waltz
WL1034 - Contemplation
WL1035 - Contemplation (Duet)
WL1036 - Prelude
WL1037 - Waltz On
WL1038 - Hymn Of Tamaki
WL1039 - Forward March
WL1040 - Sandy’s Waltz
WL1041 - Sandy’s Waltz
WL1042 - Prelude and Fugue
WL1043 - Students Play
WL1044 - Tremendous Tango
WL1045 - Concert Overture
WL1046 - Prelude And Fugue
WL1047 - The Skaters Waltz
WL1048 - “That’s Our Family”
Text from the book: History of the Accordion in New Zealand, published 1993.


(1936 to18 October 2020)

A heavily laden four wheel drive slithered and clawed its way up the river bank and into the tropical forest. If we follow it, after several kilometres of twisting track come to an end, we see a number of brown and black and one white individual emerge from the vehicle, load some gear on their backs and set off down the muddy trail further into the jungle. This could have been any of many expeditions that Wallace Liggett took students on from the boarding schools he taught at in New Guinea. They might be installing running water into a village, assisting with a funeral or as on this occasion going to talk and perform musical items for a village.

As the darkening clouds started to release drops of rain, a boy who had a large black case on his shoulder looked around for shelter. He quickly removed his shirt and covered his load, then as the rain increased to a tropical downpour he ran to some banana palms, fortunately nearby, and pulling several leaves off covered what you have now guessed was Wallace's accordion case. Just one of many unusual situations this concert model Titano Emperor (present replacement value about $15,000) found itself in during its New Guinea tour.

Wallace commenced learning piano as a child when his aunt gave him a terms tuition fees as a birthday present. After some success in competition festivals his motivation toward music eventually slowed, and it wasn't until a friend persuaded him to buy an accordion and join the orchestra of the Auckland Society of Accordionists, that music came into his focus again. He took a term of lessons from Bruce Sommerville, who ran the orchestra, but when Bruce's studio lease ran out these were discontinued.

Some time later Wallace wandered into Sydney Eady's shop to try out a larger accordion, where George Hyde, then working as repairer and accordion teacher, offered to introduce him to Allan Jones, (Allan had asked George only a short time before to look out for a young person to whom he could pass on his accordion knowledge). Responding to the offer, Wallace commenced a number of years of intensive study and practice.

After some 5 years, Wallace attained National Broadcasting status and commenced to play professionally. During this time he became the first New Zealander to play a free bass accordion (circa 1958) and transcribed a number of the works of the great masters for it. At that time, there were no free bass transcriptions in NZ and among the list of works he transcribed to include in his performances were: Toccata and Fugue in D minor (J.S. Bach), Harmonious Blacksmith and variations (G.F. Handel), and Poet and Peasant overture (Von Suppe).

Wallace made a historical first for the accordion when (circa 1958) he became the first person in NZ to perform on National Radio programmes using a free bass accordion. His performances of such major works as listed above, astounded other musicians who had no idea that an accordion was able to be used as the vehicle of musical expression for these major works. While living in Australia, Wallace performed similar works in concerts and studio recitals for the Australian Broadcasting Commission.

For some years he enjoyed a dominance in the concert accordion field in NZ, such that when an early winner of the NZ Solo Accordion Championship was asked in a radio interview about his further accordion ambitions, he replied, "To become as good as Wallace Liggett". Wallace also formed and led the Concert Trio, with Murray Ingles and Brian Wallis, who played bass accordion. This was possibly the first accordion ensemble in NZ to play formal classical and baroque music.

During the late 1960's Wallace went to Australia where he furthered his education. While there he recorded several series of studio recitals for the Australian Broadcasting Commission and also toured with a university choir as accordion soloist. During these tours he received very favourable comment in the press reviews of the concerts.

After spending a number of years in Australia Wallace responded to a request to teach at a school in New Guinea. Few people could afford any instruments in that country and although he did some solo entertaining and accompanying on the accordion, his main musical activity was training choirs, one for broadcasting and another which performed at the Independence Celebrations in Goroka. On returning to NZ Wallace was soon involved with the accordion, both teaching and playing. A member of the Accordion Examination Board of NZ, he was appointed an examiner in 1992. He is also a regular adjudicator at the NZ Accordion Championships.

His M.A. thesis (completed at Auckland in 1989) was a specially designed music program and contained a number of pieces composed for students. Transcriptions of these have joined his accordion compositions as competition test pieces at the NZ Accordion Championships. Wallace has written and arranged extensively for accordion and other instruments both solo and ensemble as well as for orchestras. His recordings include both solo accordion and multi track orchestral arrangements using electronic instruments with accordion (see appendix for list of compositions and recordings). All types of music from pops to Bach organ works are included, and he is possibly the only person to single handedly multi track a complete symphony.

Wallace currently develops and manages property, as well as teaching instrumental music at Tamaki College. He enjoys playing with the North Shore Musicale Accordion Orchestra, gives recitals and seminars for various keyboard clubs, and lends a helping hand to accordion groups.

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