National Cleveland Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum
605 East 222nd Street Euclid, OH 44123
Toll Free: 1-800-66POLKA
More than any other individual, Frank Novak was responsible for the button box renaissance
of the 1970s which, in turn, bolstered the strength and stability of the Cleveland-Style
Polka during that decade. Frank's greatest contribution was in the role of a teacher,
multiplying his skills and experience through others and thereby creating a new generation
of enthusiastic participants in Cleveland-Style Polkas.
Frank's credentials trace back to the very roots of the Slovenian Cleveland-Style
Polka legacy. Frank first played the button box at age 10. Once a member of the Matt
Hoyer Trio, the "pioneer" Cleveland-Style polka orchestra, Frank gained early fame
as a member of the Novak trio. At the time of his death at age 85, Frank was still
teaching and composing.
As noted above, Frank is regarded as the driving force behind
the resurgence of the button box as an integral part of the Cleveland-Style movement
during the 1970s. He has taught hundreds of students, many of whom make up the 10
to 15 button box clubs active in the Cleveland area. His students include regulars
from as far away as Youngstown, as well as students from Minnesota, Oregon, Colorado,
California, with whom he carried on a cassette correspondence.
Novak wrote over 100
polkas and waltzes, and his music continues to be in demand by recording artists
searching for new material. He has appeared with some of the besk known polka artists,
including Lojze Slak, both in Europe and North America, and has toured not only America,
Canada and Europe, but has brought the Cleveland-style polka to the Orient, the Holy
Land and Australia as well. He recorded with Frank Yankovic, Walter Ostanek, and
others. His many modern-era recordings, beginning with "Tony's Polka Village" in
1970 and including his 75th Birthday Album in 1981, are essential components of any
button box enthusiast's collection. Novak's polkas and waltzes continue to be in
demand by recording artists in search of new material. His unique harmonizing style
is copied only by the most skillful button box artists.