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.

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.

Kitty Berger, Harp-Zitherist

In this article we explore the life of Kitty Berger, a zitherist from Austria and early recording artist with Victor and Edison records. After receiving notoriety in Europe for her musical abilities, she traveled to England and America with her zither. A recognized talent on the instrument of her homeland, she was invited to perform for heads of state in the White House and Windsor Castle.

Chicago Zither Club

This circa 1930 photo of the Chicago Zither Club comes to us courtesy of Jeff Baader. Jeff's grandfather, Henry Baader, is shown seated in the second row, far right. Henry Baader immigrated to the US in 1927 and arrived with only a few possessions, one of which was a zither made by Ignaz Roider in Munich. Also seated in the same row, second in from the far left, is Rudy Wacek, inventor of the electric zither.

A Case For Music

A book of zither compositions, Solos for the Zither, has been kindly offered by Leslee Lindstrom. Published in 1919, this book of music was among the personal effects of her great-grandfather, zitherist Jacob Dugwyler. The composer of these pieces, J. Fremont Frey, of Indianapolis, Indiana, was a strong advocate for the zither and was elected Vice President of the American Zither Verband in 1913.

Zitherist Mimy Huf

In this photo, dated October 17, 1937, zitherist Mimy Huf prepares for a concert during the Tenth National Congress of the United Zither Players of America (UZPA). The UZPA, a continuation of the American Zither Verband, held its first Congress in Washington, MO, in 1912. This concert, held in Rochester, NY, was given by 80 zither players before an audience of 2000.

A Grand Zither Concert

Zither players across the US recently came together for a series of workshops given by master zitherist Tomy Temerson. The workshops were followed by a Grand Zither Concert at Galvin Fine Arts Center, St. Ambrose University. In this article, Dr. William Kolb shares his experience.

Zithering from the Heart

With the support and encouragement of family, Maria Petersen has recently completed a series of zither recordings. From the alpine melodies of her native Bavaria, cherished folk songs and other well-known selections, her project represents a lifetime of music with the zither. In this article, AnnElise Makin presents Maria's story, her early musical recollections and the recordings for which she has won accolades.

It takes true pioneer spirit to be loyal to your music and to your homeland. Maria Petersen is such a pioneer - from Omaha, Nebraska. She is highly skilled on her Bavarian zither. For her 70th birthday Maria recorded three CDs, putting together her life's work. It spans a variety of genre from children's songs, folksongs to classical. It is a massive collection of 69 titles (and medleys) in three albums.

Zitherist Maria Petersen

I have known Maria for over 25 years and I remember her always playing the zither. Quite often her children were along and performed with her. Cindy played the Hackbrett (hammer dulcimer), Mark played the accordion and the guitar and all three sang old hits such as Lieder (German ballads) and folksongs. The melodies are passed on to the next generation. Her six grandchildren enjoy singing and playing music, too. Maria brought some of her musical instruments along from her native home in Bavaria, Ascholding, an idyllic village in the Isar valley. Her father Andreas Schillinger, was by trade a wagon and carpenter master. His lifelong hobby was building instruments. Over the years he built 15-20 zithers, several hammer dulcimers and one guitar. Her father taught both of his children, Maria and Anderl, the art of music at their small farm and carpenter shop in Ascholding. Maria remembers, "most every day I practiced the zither two to three hours with a ten minute break to ride my bike each hour. Sometimes, I even got out of some chores." Practice was important! After the war, times were hard. Any kind of income was welcome. The Schillingers built their own Hausmusik group. They played in guest houses and inns to earn money.


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