Although primarily manufactured in Germany and Austria, the zither was also made in the United States during periods of high immigration from German speaking lands. This page will serve to provide information on the numerous zither makers, both past and present.
Originally from Olmutz, Austria, Franz Schwarzer (1828 - 1904) studied architecture and wood working at the Polytechnic Institute of Vienna. After immigrating to the US in 1866, he would occasionally fabricate zithers at the request of friends and eventually shifted to making instruments a full-time profession. His hard work and craftsmanship was recognized at the Vienna Exposition in 1873. For this fair, he entered three of his zithers and was awarded the “Gold Medal of Progress,” the highest award of the fair, for his entry.
Franz Waldecker & Co. was a Washington, D.C., based music company that once sold zithers bearing their label. Franz Waldecker, the company's founder, was an accomplished zither player and promoter of the instrument. The company also manufactured strings, zither tables and published sheet music for the zither.
Washburn, the brand name of Chicago based Lyon & Healy, was just one of several US Companies manufacturing the zither for the domestic market. From the late 1800s to the early 1900s, it is estimated that somewhere between 2,000 - 3,000 Washburn zithers were manufactured.
Josef Förg was born in München on Jan. 15, 1890 and passed away on Jan. 18, 1946. For the years 1905-1907 he is listed as a salaried employee for the company Braun & Hauser, which is where he most likely began to develop his skills as an instrument maker.
Munich native Max Mathias Amberger (1839 - 1889) constructed violins, zithers and guitars from his workshop at Müllerstrasse 27a and is credited with constructing the first concert zither. After his passing, the business remained in the family until 1921, when it was purchased by Hermann Hauser. The Max Amberger name, however, continued to be used until at least 1927.
Founded in 1872, Carl Fischer, Inc. sold zither sheet music and zithers bearing their label. Although the maker's label specifies Carl Fischer as the manufacturer, it is also probable that the company commissioned foreign and domestic factories to manufacture zithers and other instruments to be sold in their store. At the time this zither was constructed, their store location was 6 Fourth Ave., which is 56 Cooper Square today.
Wm. Teubner was an award winning furniture maker who immigrated to the United States from Germany in 1851. In addition to furniture, he was known for his work as a carver,sculptor and manufacturer of musical instruments.
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