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.

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.

Zitherist A. W. Schepp

This photo comes to us courtesy of Raymond Tidrow. Shown here with his perfecta zither is Raymond's great-grandfather, A. W. Schepp. Born in Magdeburg, Germany, A. W. Schepp began playing the zither at age 12 and immigrated to the US as a teenager. His enthusiasm for the zither came to fruition through the formation of the American Zither Verband in 1912.

World War I-era Postcards

Light and inexpensive, the zither was a popular instrument in the household as well as for those requiring a portable form of entertainment. As such, it's no surprise that the zither appeared in group photographs of German and Austrian soldiers during periods of leisure. The interpretation, transcription and translation of the World War I-era postcards presented here have been kindly provided by Jane Curtis.

Zither Patents

In the late 1800s, the zither reached a pinnacle of popularity in the U.S. With so many zither players, creative minds sought to improve the instrument or engineer accessories for playing. The rights to these inventions were secured through the issuance of patents by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. This article presents several of these early zither patents and their respective inventors.

Zither Programs

From the mid-1800s to present day, audiences in the US have been entertained by the sounds of the zither. Music programs often included solo performances, with ensemble and multi-voice zither arrangements of selected works. The pieces performed were familiar to the German speaking regions of Europe, but popular American favorites were also included. This page provides a sampling of those past performances.

American Zither Verband, Second Congress, 1913

A Baltimore Zither

Born in Eibenstock, Germany, William Teubner immigrated to the US to seek new opportunities in Baltimore, Maryland's thriving port community. As a talented craftsman, he was known for his work as a furniture maker, carver and manufacturer of musical instruments. In this article we discuss his life and a restoration of one of his surviving works — a concert zither.


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