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Walt Groller was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania. His parents were Austrian immigrants. At the age of four, Walt was given a small accordion. He taught himself how to play the accordion and learned all of the Austrian folk songs his mother sang to him. After completing all the chores on the small family farm, Walt would spend hours practicing his accordion. He was hired for his first engagement at the age of twelve, and at fourteen Walt formed his own orchestra. They performed at country hotels, shuffleboard meets and parties. Through these affairs, the orchestra became more popular and clubs started to book them for dance nights.
Walt served in the Army Engineers in Korea from 1952 to 1954. After his discharge in 1954, Walt regrouped his orchestra and began live radio broadcasts every Sunday. It was at that time, Stella Records contacted him and he cut seven albums and several 45s. One of his LPs, “New Christmas Songs,” is now a collector’s item. Later, Walt formed his own Chalet record label and released several albums. His latest, “Thanks To All Of You,” has several hits which include “Say Thank You Dear and Give Her Roses” and “Papa, the Old Accordion Man.” Walt has composed over 100 songs, many of them polkas and waltz melodies.
In 1986, Walt Groller was inducted into the International Polka Association’s “Hall of Fame.” In 1988, he was nominated for a Grammy Award. In 1990, the government of Austria presented Groller with the Austrian Decoration of Merit in Gold, an award given in recognition of those who help to preserve Austria’s culture. Groller also received a letter of commendation from President Bill Clinton. In May 1995, he received Polka News Network’s “Lifetime Polka Music Award.”
The orchestra has traveled throughout the country and Walt has played on cruise ships and in Europe. In 2016, the Walt Groller Orchestra celebrated seventy-one years of music, 1945-2016. Walt has tried to live by his motto “Bringing people together through music.”
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