Welcome to Zither US

Here you will find information pertaining to the concert zither, an instrument with Alpine origins commonly associated with the German-speaking lands of Europe. The concert zither has an incredibly rich history here in the US. By providing a venue to share its history and music, it's hoped that interest will be renewed and new players will be encouraged to take up this wonderful instrument.

To grow as a resource, Zither US is seeking your contributions. Did you have an ancestor who played the concert zither? Do you play, or have you attended a recent performance? If so, consider sharing your experiences and knowledge with the community. For more information on how to become a contributor, contact us.

For the enjoyment of the zither community, hundreds of vintage zither arrangements and compositions have been digitized and published. Visit the page of the Vintage Zither Music Project to browse the current collection.

The Zitherplayer

The March, 2015, issue of The Zitherplayer is now available. In this issue, notes from the forum, recent events in the zither community, an American Civil War tune set for the zither by Dr. Jane Curtis and more. See the download link to obtain your copy. If you would like to receive an email notification of future releases, kindly send an email to thezitherplayer@zither.us to be added to the distribution list.

The Zitherplayer, Volume I, Number II (Download)

A Snapshot of Pauline Kruger Hamilton

An early photograph reveals an extraordinary life. The photo, circa 1893, was taken in St. Paul, Minnesota and shows Pauline Kruger Hamilton with her Arion zither. A native of Minneapolis, Minnesota, she performed as a zither soloist and was a well known artist. For a number of years, she was designated as the official photographer for the court of Franz Josef, former Emperor of Austria.

The Zapfs

A big thank you to Lenny Zapf for sharing this recording, titled "Scottish." On this recording, Lenny plays stand-up bass and his father, Leonard Zapf Sr., plays the concert zither. This video includes several photos shared by Lenny, including group shots of the Philadelphia Zither Ensemble.

On the Zither

This article, by Dr. Gerlinde Haid, comes from the Austrian publication Volkskunst heute (Folk Art Today),[i] a beautifully illustrated magazine devoted to Austrian handcrafts, costumes, and customs. The article is translated by Dr. Jane Curtis, and illustrations reproduced, with the kind permission of the publisher, the Hilde Jasser Verlag- und Werbegesellschaft mbH, Vienna, Austria. Translator comments and additions are set off in brackets; some slight rearrangements of material have been made for greater clarity in the English version.

A Zither Match

In the late 1870s, zither players in the US began forming clubs to share music with the public. It was during this period that a Bavarian from Ruhpolding, Max Maier, settled in San Francisco and became established as a leading proponent of the zither. At his studio, Max gave music lessons, sold zithers and provided all the requisites for zither players in his community.

The Concert Zither in America's Civil War

John Maurath identified a photograph that should be of great interest to zither players. The photograph clearly shows a Union soldier, more than likely a soldier of German heritage, playing a concert zither. Although the picture speaks for itself, the question remains: What did he play?

Franz Schwarzer and Friends

This circa 1901 photo comes to us courtesy of the State Historical Society of Missouri. Shown standing on the right is Franz Schwarzer, Missouri's famous zither maker. At his factory in Washington, Missouri, over 10,000 instruments were manufactured, the majority of which were zithers. Also identified in the photo are Mr. Muehl, seated with zither, and Mr. Schmidt, shown holding a book.

Mr. Schmidt, Mr. Muehl and Franz Schwarzer. Courtesy State Historical Society of Missouri.

Charles Schroeter Collection

A very generous donation of early zither sheet music was recently received by Zither US, compliments of Jerry Turnbaugh. A significant portion of this music, donated in memory of his friend, Charles Schroeter, has now been digitized and is posted here for the enjoyment of the zither community. As an introduction to the collection, Jerry has provided the following remembrance...

A Songbird for the Zither

Born in New York, zitherist Alberta Krader was a music teacher by profession and toured extensively with vaudeville, where she introduced zither music to thousands. Whether in the classroom, as a zither soloist or radio perfomer, her efforts to promote and preserve music lasted a lifetime. In later years she formed the Los Angeles Zither Ensemble, which was frequently called upon to perform at folk festivals and other public venues.

Buffalo Zither Club

Thank you to Anna Mayerhofer for sharing this 1917 photo of the Buffalo Zither Club. This photo also includes her grandfather Josef Mayerhofer, seated to the far right in the front row. Josef was born in Dingolfing, Germany, in 1875. Anna included the following note regarding her family's history: "As I understand, my grandfather tremendously enjoyed playing the zither and apparently was quite good. In Germany, my grandfather met my grandmother, Anna Allmanshofer at the Wirtshaus in Gottfrieding which was owned by the Allmanshofer family. A mutual friendship developed through both of them playing the zither.


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