National Cleveland Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum
605 East 222nd Street Euclid, OH 44123
Toll Free: 1-800-66POLKA
It is probably fair to say that the Cleveland-Style Polka movement all started with
Matt Hoyer, the “grand-daddy” of button accordion players and pioneer performer of
Slovenian Polkas and Waltzes in the United States.
Born in Slovenia in 1891, Matt came to the U.S. and settled in Cleveland in 1911.
Applying the skills he learned in Slovenia, he continued to build, repair and tune
accordions in America. But his crowning achievement was the Hoyer Trio and its legacy
which to this day has directly or indirectly influenced virtually all Slovenian,
Cleveland-Style Polka musicians.
Performing primarily in Northeastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania, the Hoyer Trio
was the first Cleveland-Style Polka band to “go commercial.” Taking our music far
beyond the range of his Model T (later Model A) transportation, the Hoyer Trio began
recording for the Victor Talking Machine Company and Okeh Records. Thus, Cleveland-Style
Polka began traveling across the nation’s airwaves, were disseminated to music lovers
everywhere, and gained legitimacy as an art form outside the strict boundaries of
Slovenian ethnic heritage.
One of the Hoyer Trio’s biggest selling dics was “Dunaj Ostane Dunaj,” a polka derived
from the German-Austrian march “Vienna Forever.” Cleveland-Style Polka musicians,
on the other hand, simply call it Hoyer’s polka.” Among the many popular polkas and
waltzes adapted from Hoyer renditions are “Jack on St. Clair,” “Patricia’s Waltz,”
“Bartender’s Polka,” and a host of others.
As a musician, Matt was a sensation on both the button accordion and the 120-bass
chromatic. His playing style was unique, smooth and even. His music was beautifully
laced with the typical Hoyer staccato that made each tune a musical rainbow. An innovator,
Matt added dimension to his music by opening up and modifying his “harmonica” (button
box) to overcome the limitations and monotony of playing in one or two keys. Matt
Hoyer continued to play well into the twilight of his years. In 1951 he became ill
and succumbed to cancer on December 20, 1960.
The Dean of American-Slovenian Radio Announcers, Heinie Martin Antoncic, in one of
his radio tributes aptly stated, “Matt Hoyer was the George Washington among Slovenian