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.

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


Adam Kaiser: A Biography

In this article we explore the life of Adam Kaiser, a zitherist from the Sudetenland. Severely wounded during the Allied invasion of Europe, he was taken as a prisoner of war and sent to Scotland. After the war he was relocated to North Owersby, England, where he married a local girl and provided zither lessons to ten-year old Alan Hankins.


Zitherist James Exel

This circa 1885 photo comes to us courtesy of Keith Bellhorn and Ron Rabenold. At the zither is James Exel, Keith Bellhorn's great-grandfather.

James Exel was born in Austria in 1854. In the early 1880s he was employed as a butler in London, England and worked at Thrale Hall in Mitcham Road, Streatham. While working in London, James met Harry Packer, son of the American industrialist Asa Packer. He was hired by the family and in 1883 he immigrated to the US, sailing aboard the steam-ship City of Rome, and settled in Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania, now known as Jim Thorpe. In Mauch Chunk, he played his zither at Packer family parties, community gatherings and the Mauch Chunk Opera House.

Do you have a zither-related photo that you would like to share? If so, contact us.

Alpenklaenge Sheet Music

In 1942, zither players in Wisconsin came together to form the Milwaukee Zither Club "Alpenklaenge." For over half a century, the "Alpenkalenge" entertained appreciative audiences with popular favorites by Freundorfer, Wormsbacher, Reiter and many others. The following sheet music selections, kindly provided by Rudolf Mueller, are posted here to be shared and enjoyed by the zither community.



The Milwaukee Zither Club "Alpenklaenge", circa 1948

Thirty-Fifth Sterling Zither Seminar

Zither players from Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey convened once again for the 35th 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.


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