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A Portrait of A. J. Paschinger

Originally a first violinist with the Johann Strauss orchestra, A. J. Pashinger developed a greater appreciation for the zither. He excelled on the instrument, playing the zither solo for Strauss' "Tales from the Vienna Woods" at its world premiere in 1868. A prolific composer, he is credited with over 650 original compositions and arrangements for the zither. In this article by Anton H. Paschinger, we remember A. J. Paschinger, the painter, musician, composer and man.



In Vienna’s Zentralfriedhof, the tombstone of a once prolific zither composer has recently been restored. In some ways this restoration is symbolic of a renewed interest in zither music that has occurred since the beginning of the 21st century. The composer, Anton Joseph Paschinger, is credited with over 650 compositions and arrangements for the zither. His melodies ranked among the most popular of his time.

A. J. Paschinger (1825-1900)

A. J. Paschinger was born in 1825 in Vienna’s city center, now known as the 1st district. His father, Mathias Paschinger, was originally from Upper Austria, Linz, and worked as a tailor of women’s clothes. His mother, Anna née Paulus, was from the Bohemian town of Graslitz and worked as a cook. Soon after Anton’s birth, the young family moved to the other side of the Danube Canal to Praterstrasse in the town of Leopoldstadt, known today as the 2nd district. At this time, with its many theatres and concert halls, Leopoldstadt was the center of arts and entertainment in Vienna.

The Strauss family was also living in Leopoldstadt. The late composer Joseph Strauss, brother of the famous “Waltz King,” Johann Strauss II, went to the same school as little Anton. Nothing is known about the early contacts between the Strauss and the Paschinger families. We do know, however, that Anton studied violin, music theory, Italian and other subjects at a conservatory directed by the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde des Österreichischen Kaiserhauses from the years 1838-1847. After his studies he became first violinist for the Johann Strauss concert orchestra.

At the other side of the tree-lined avenue from the Paschinger household, the new church of St. Johann Nepomuk was under construction. It is likely that Anton observed the famous painter Leopold Kupelwieser, busy at work on the church’s huge altar painting. This experience may have motivated Paschinger, aside from his music studies, to study flower painting from 1841-44 at the Academy for Fine Arts (Akademie der bildenden Künste) in Vienna as a part-time student. With Kupelwieser as one of his teachers, he continued his art studies from 1849 to 1855 at the Academy for Fine Arts, at the same time continuing to work for Johann Strauss. He was a very skilled painter and his works are highly desirable by collectors. In 2007, one of his rare works sold at an auction in Vienna for approximately $20,000.

The success and popularity of Strauss’ orchestra may have influenced Paschinger to focus on music. He went on tour with the Strauss orchestra to France, England, Belgium and Germany. A young harpist with the Strauss orchestra, Anna Dubez, sister of the famous musician and composer Johann Dubez, also played the zither. It is reported that she influenced Paschinger to undertake a serious study of this instrument. He went on to receive zither lessons with Franz Kropf, who had been one of the zither instructors of Austrian Empress “Sisi” Elisabeth. Paschinger became an excellent zither and played the famous zither solo of the Strauss waltz “Tales from the Vienna Woods” (Geschichten aus dem Wienerwald) at its world premiere in 1868.

Paschinger also worked as a violinist for the popular Carl-Theater in Leopoldstadt and later as the orchestra director and first violinist of the Wiener Stadt-Theater in downtown Vienna till 1879. After this period he focused on his music school for violin and zither, which he had opened in 1861. At the music school he was assisted by his wife, Ludmilla, who served as a zither instructor.

One measure of Paschinger’s success as an instructor is the number of students who became successful, or even famous, as zither players and composers. Notable students include Josef Stanislaw (1852-1935), Marija Stern-Pizent (1859-1931), Vincenz Hladky (1875-1942) and especially Franz Wagner (1853-1930).

Another student, the British bonvivant and traveller Captain George Greville Moore, wrote in his Memories of an Old Etonian 1860-1912 (Hutchinson & Co., London 1919, p.232) about A. J. Paschinger: “I may mention that, during my stay in Vienna, I took lessons on the zither from the celebrated Paschinger, who was quite a brilliant performer on that instrument, besides being a good violinist, and played the violin and occasionally the zither at one of the principal theatres, where he was first violinist.”

In 1878, Paschinger began to regularly publish his compositions in his Vienna Zither-Journal for Sorrowful and Cheerful Works (Wiener Zither-Journal für elegische & heitere Piecen). He also wrote articles for Viennese zither magazines, a music theory manual and a zither method (Zitherschule). His early works include a zither arrangement of Luigi Arditi’s waltz “Il bacio” (The Kiss) and a composition, the “Ludmilla Waltz,” dedicated to his wife. By this time, as a musician, the zither was his primary focus.

Großes Blumenstück by A. J. Paschinger

Paschinger’s works were played throughout the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in Germany, Italy, France and also in the United States and South America. In the US, there were several concerts in Chicago where his works were performed. At a concert at Baum’s Concert Hall on November 21, 1886, the Zither-Club “Harmonie” performed two of Paschinger’s works: “Chant pastoral” and his well known “Lion’s March” (Löwen-Marsch). On April 15, 1899, the Czech Zither Club “Dalibor,” performed the popular “Comedy Overture” (Lustspiel-Ouverture) at Thalia Hall. At a music theater in Nova Friburgo, Brazil, on February 5, 1910, Paschinger’s composition “Goldelse,” for zither and cello, was performed.

Paschinger was a very caring and modest man. After the early death of his father in 1837, he provided for his two sisters and his mother. Later he cared for his ailing younger sister who lived with him until she passed in 1856, just 26 years old.

After the death of his wife Ludmilla in 1894, “Papa Paschinger,” as he was affectionately known by his younger colleagues, withdrew from public life. Paschinger, who left no children, died six years later in 1900 at the Rudolfinerhaus, a private hospital in Vienna. He was 75 years old.

The Austrian performer, composer and zither journalist Ferdinand Kollmaneck expressed very kind words on the occasion of Paschinger’s passing: “Whoever had the opportunity to associate with this always jovial old man, will fondly remember him. Associating with him had something warm about it that made you feel at home. Through him you could dream your way back to that peaceful happy time, now unfortunately in the realm of the past.”

Taking a walk today in the Zentralfriedhof, with its tree-lined walkways and graves of so many famous musicians, composers and singers, one may imagine a faint singing in the air, a rustling of sheet music or the tap of a conductor’s baton. And perhaps, descending from above, the gentle tones of an old Viennese zither.



For the enjoyment of the zither community, the following works by A. J. Paschinger have been made available. If you have additional pieces by A. J. Paschinger that you would like to share, please contact us.

Index Composer Arranger Title Publisher Notes
SM-0047 Josef Kaulich A. J. Paschinger Des Kaisers Geburtsfest Prag, Joh. Hoffmann Code: O
SM-0060 Traditional A. J. Paschinger La Romanesca Ant. Kiendl Code: O
SM-0082 Carl Zeller A. J. Paschinger Grüss Euch Gott alle miteinander V. Kratochwill, Wien Code: O
SM-0083 Carl Zeller A. J. Paschinger Ich bin ein Kind vom Rhein V. Kratochwill, Wien Code: O
SM-0084 Carl Zeller A. J. Paschinger Rosen-Walzer V. Kratochwill, Wien Code: O
SM-0085 Carl Zeller A. J. Paschinger Obersteiger-Marsch V. Kratochwill, Wien Code: O
SM-0086 Carl Zeller A. J. Paschinger Vagabunden - Marsch V. Kratochwill, Wien Code: O
SM-0093 L. van Beethoven A. J. Paschinger Trauermarsch Ant. Kiendl, Wien Code: O
SM-0104 A. J. Paschinger A. J. Paschinger Kärnthnerlieder - Potpourri Bosworth & Co. Code: O
SM-0150 A. J. Paschinger A. J. Paschinger Etuden, Op. 151, No. 18 - 26 Ant. Kiendl, Wien Code: C / Stamped: Adalbert Altrichter, Teacher of Music, Dayton, Ohio / Compliments of John Roeder
SM-0156 A. J. Paschinger A. J. Paschinger Dass d'Zeit vergeht Ant. Kiendl, Wien Code: O / Dedication: Sr. Wohlgeboren Herrn Anton Zöbeli freundlichst gewidmet
SM-0159 August Jurek A. J. Paschinger Deutschmeister-Regiments-Marsch Otto Maass, Wien Code: O
SM-0163 A. J. Paschinger A. J. Paschinger Schweizer Echolied Bosworth & Co. Code: O
SM-0172 Karl Komzák A. J. Paschinger Wiener Spaziergänge, Potpourri Bosworth & Co. Code: O
SM-0185 Various A. J. Paschinger Partant pour la Syrie / Riego's spanische Nationalhymne A. J. Paschinger Code: O
SM-0198 Wilhelm Rosenzweig A. J. Paschinger Ob ich dich liebe Otto Maass, Wien Code: O
SM-0204 Various A. J. Paschinger La Marseillaise / Russische Nationalhymne A. J. Paschinger, Wien Code: O
SM-0209 Eugen von Taund A. J. Paschinger Nur Geduld, sei doch gescheit, aus der Operette "Der Wunderknabe" V. Kratochwill, Wien Code: O / Lyrics: Alex. Landesberg und Leo Stein

We extend our thanks to Anton H. Paschinger for sharing the story of his ancestor, A. J. Paschinger. Do you have a zither story that you would like to share? If so, contact us.