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.

Cleveland's Most Famous Zither Player

As a classically trained musician, Henry Wormsbacher was a dominant force in promoting the native instrument of his homeland, the concert zither. In this article, author Alissa Pesavanto details the life and works of Henry Wormsbacher, Cleveland's most famous zither player. Originally published in Germania Newspaper, March 1994, the author has extended her kind permission for the republication of this article.


Franz Schwarzer – Missouri's Zither King

Over 10,000 Schwarzer instruments, with the majority being zithers, were made in Washington, Missouri by Austrian immigrant Franz Schwarzer, beginning in l866. Schwarzer’s zithers competed favorably with those of European makers and were sold all over the world. In this article, George Bocklage, Washington Historical Society secretary, details the life of this innovator, musician and businessman and the exhibit which endeavors to preserve his life and legacy.


Louis Maurath - A Biography

During the 1800s, the zither's popularity in America is evidenced by the numerous published accounts of zither concerts, zither advertisements, zither makers and merchandisers. What's not readily available, however, are details that provide insight into the lives of American zither players during this time period. In this article, family historian and genealogist John Maurath shares the story of his great-grandfather Louis "Louie" Maurath, former zitherist and resident of Millstadt, Illinois.


Ellen George - A Life with the Zither

On June 10, 2008 my Oma, Ellen George passed away. It was as a girl in her home town of Straubing, Germany that her love of music and the zither was instilled by friends and family. Coming to the U.S. after World War II, she brought her love of music with her to the Philadelphia Zither Ensemble, as a member for many years. Before she passed, she wrote a letter detailing her involvement with the zither which I would like to share in honor of her memory.


The Prince and the Peasants

After being captivated by the playing of zither virtuoso Johann Petazmyer, Duke Max would learn and later compose a number of songs for the zither. On occasion, Duke Max could be seen, in disguise, playing the zither for his countrymen while his daughter Sissi passed the hat. The following article, submitted by John Maurath, was published in the The San Francisco Daily Evening Bulletin on November 10, 1860, and colorfully details one such episode.



Zithermaxl

In the early part of the 19th century, the Alpine zither would begin to undergo a series of transformations to become the zither we know today. In this article, Ernst Schusser details the lives of zither proponents Duke Max and Johann Petzmayer whose enthusiasm and virtuosity helped set the stage for acceptance and further refinement of the zither. This article has been translated from the original German by William F. Kolb



Some Advice For New Zitherists

Wanting to acquire a better appreciation for the music of his homeland, Tom Leoni has recently started to learn the zither under the expert tutelage of Jane Curtis. Before taking up new challenges, it's important to gain an understanding of the road ahead. In this article, Tom presents his "lessons learned" which will surely prove highly informative for anyone desiring to take up the zither.



Hans Lanner - A Biography

Hans lanner was born in 1873 in Reichenau an der Rax in the province of Lower Austria as the son of a woodworker. His place of birth and later residence was the "Scheiterplatz" in close vicinity of the famous hotel Thalhof, which was frequented by the leading personalities of the arts and sciences. Lanner's father was already much sought after as companion and for the excursions of the vacationers into the surrounding area.


Thirty-First Sterling Zither Seminar

Zither players from Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey convened once again for the 31st 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.


Visiting the Homeland of Schwarzer Zithers

Any zither player visiting Missouri - or indeed the United States - since 1870 would be drawn to the little town of Washington on the banks of the mighty Missouri, where Franz Schwarzer immigrated from Austria and became the first and greatest of American zither makers. When family matters took me from Virginia, near Washington DC, to St.Louis in mid-November 1993, I could at last follow in the steps of those who have gone before.


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