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 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.

Kerschbam Zithermusi

Enjoy this piece, the Kerschbam Marsch, performed by the Kerschbam Zithermusi. The zitherists in the group are Andreas Waldschütz (www.der-geigenmacher.de), Manuel Kuthan (www.freidwerk.de) and Ludwig Biegel, with Barthi Hollinger on contra guitar.

Zitherist Henry Nowak

This historic zither photo from 1932 comes to us courtesy of Pat Mohre, great-granddaughter of Henry Nowak, shown here with one of his early zithers. After a long run in Vaudeville, Henry Nowak settled in Chicago where he and his ensemble performed regularly in the Bierstube of the Bismarck Hotel. For more information on the life of Henry Nowak, see his story "What is a Symphonichord?"

What is a Symphonichord?

As a youth, Henry Nowak emigrated to the United States from Austria. Growing up in Hoboken, NJ, he found employment as a musician and eventually with Vaudeville where he toured the US and Europe extensively. As a professional musician he was also inventive and mechanically inclined, and with this his creativity found a unique outlet. In this article we discuss the Symphonichord, one of his favorite musical inventions.

Johannes Popp’s Visit to Philadelphia

Members of the Philadelphia Zither Ensemble and friends recently enjoyed the company of renowned zitherist Johannes Popp and his family. On October 8, 2012, the group came together for an evening of music in Rockledge, PA. Kurt Maute, who attended the event, has kindly provided the following article.

For the Record

As the record gained popular appeal, labels such as Columbia, Edison and Victor sought artists in order to grow their ever expanding catalog of musical offerings. Records produced here in the US included numerous zither selections by musicians with roots in German-speaking countries. In this article, we explore these early zither recordings.


Subscribe to Zither US  RSS