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.

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.

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.



Zitherist Sofian Zapf

A new generation experiences the zither. In this photo, Sofian Zapf plays the zither while Leonard Zapf looks on. Sofian was born in Kulmbach, Germany and was trained as a violin maker. After WW1, he immigrated to the United States with his family and was a co-founder of Zapf's Music Co. in Philadelphia. He performed frequently in public as a zither player and was a violininst with the Olney Symphony Orchestra.



Thirty-Sixth Sterling Zither Seminar

Zither players from Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey convened once again for the 36th Sterling Zither Seminar. Jane Curtis, whose report follows, served as host for the event and led the zither enthusiasts through a well-structured seminar program, which spanned two days. The seminar was held at the Greenspring retirement community in Springfield, VA.

Vintage Zither Music Project

With hundreds of selections to choose from, the Vintage Zither Music Project is a key resource for musicians and researchers wishing to explore early music composed and arranged for the zither. To grow this collection, Zither US is seeking your contributions. Do you have vintage zither sheet music that you would like to share with the community? If so, email dave@zither.us or use the provided contact form for more information.



In Olden Times (Download)

Zithering in Charm City

The zither, first widely introduced to the American public by Tyrolean minstrels in the late 1840s, was initially regarded as a curiosity. Over the next several decades, however, it emerged to become a part of America’s cultural heritage. Domestically, zithers, sheet music and zither methods were produced to meet the demands of a zither-playing public. By the 1870s, players began to convene with the idea of forming clubs.



The Baltimore Zither Club, circa 1935

The Zither Crosses the Pond

From its humble beginnings as the diatonic scheitholt played in the Alpine regions of Europe, to the fully chromatic instrument played today, it is likely that the zither has sounded in the United States as long as Germans have been coming to these shores. Along the way, however, there have been key figures who have helped to popularize the zither here in the US. Among the earliest, was Tyrolean, Joseph Hauser.



and they came with their music...

Born in Gotha, Thuringia, Germany, Paul von Nordeck immigrated to the US, travelled extensively, and eventually settled in Salt Lake City, Utah. In this article, Boyd Humpherys remembers his grandfather, Paul von Nordeck, a talented musician who enjoyed entertaining friends and family with selected songs played on his favorite instrument, the concert zither.



The Philadelphia Zither Club, Its History

In the 1870s, zither players in the United States began to assemble with the goal of promoting and fostering the art of zither playing. In this article, Maurice Jacobi details the early challenges of establishing a zither club in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Originally published in the Jan. 1, 1885 issue of Franz Waldecker's The Zitherplayer, this article has been kindly provided by Janet Stessl.



Zither in Film

Although most commonly associated with 'The Third Man,' the zither has made appearances in other films. In this photograph, actress Annabella receives zither lessons from Charles P. Burton for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's 'Bridal Suite.'



Charles P. Burton instructs Annabella on the zither, 1939


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