In 1879, Franz Waldecker published the first newsletter in the United States for the zither community. The Zitherplayer, in its way, brought together zither players throughout the states and Europe by sharing music, news and other articles of interest to promote the art of zither playing. From this time, several periodicals emerged and this page shares many of these early examples. If the reader is aware of others not presented here, email email@example.com or use the provided contact form to help build a more contiguous picture.
An early photograph reveals an extraordinary life. The photo, circa 1893, was taken in St. Paul, Minnesota and shows Pauline Kruger Hamilton with her Arion zither. A native of Minneapolis, Minnesota, she performed as a zither soloist and was a well known artist. For a number of years, she was designated as the official photographer for the court of Franz Josef, former Emperor of Austria.
This article, by Dr. Gerlinde Haid, comes from the Austrian publication Volkskunst heute (Folk Art Today),[i] a beautifully illustrated magazine devoted to Austrian handcrafts, costumes, and customs. The article is translated by Dr. Jane Curtis, and illustrations reproduced, with the kind permission of the publisher, the Hilde Jasser Verlag- und Werbegesellschaft mbH, Vienna, Austria. Translator comments and additions are set off in brackets; some slight rearrangements of material have been made for greater clarity in the English version.
In the late 1870s, zither players in the US began forming clubs to share music with the public. It was during this period that a Bavarian from Ruhpolding, Max Maier, settled in San Francisco and became established as a leading proponent of the zither. At his studio, Max gave music lessons, sold zithers and provided all the requisites for zither players in his community.
John Maurath identified a photograph that should be of great interest to zither players. The photograph clearly shows a Union soldier, more than likely a soldier of German heritage, playing a concert zither. Although the picture speaks for itself, the question remains: What did he play?
This circa 1901 photo comes to us courtesy of the State Historical Society of Missouri. Shown standing on the right is Franz Schwarzer, Missouri's famous zither maker. At his factory in Washington, Missouri, over 10,000 instruments were manufactured, the majority of which were zithers. Also identified in the photo are Mr. Muehl, seated with zither, and Mr. Schmidt, shown holding a book.
Mr. Schmidt, Mr. Muehl and Franz Schwarzer. Courtesy State Historical Society of Missouri.
A very generous donation of early zither sheet music was recently received by Zither US, compliments of Jerry Turnbaugh. A significant portion of this music, donated in memory of his friend, Charles Schroeter, has now been digitized and is posted here for the enjoyment of the zither community. As an introduction to the collection, Jerry has provided the following remembrance...
Born in New York, zitherist Alberta Krader was a music teacher by profession and toured extensively with vaudeville, where she introduced zither music to thousands. Whether in the classroom, as a zither soloist or radio perfomer, her efforts to promote and preserve music lasted a lifetime. In later years she formed the Los Angeles Zither Ensemble, which was frequently called upon to perform at folk festivals and other public venues.
Thank you to Anna Mayerhofer for sharing this 1917 photo of the Buffalo Zither Club. This photo also includes her grandfather Josef Mayerhofer, seated to the far right in the front row. Josef was born in Dingolfing, Germany, in 1875. Anna included the following note regarding her family's history: "As I understand, my grandfather tremendously enjoyed playing the zither and apparently was quite good. In Germany, my grandfather met my grandmother, Anna Allmanshofer at the Wirtshaus in Gottfrieding which was owned by the Allmanshofer family. A mutual friendship developed through both of them playing the zither.
This historic zither photo from 1932 comes to us courtesy of Pat Mohre, great-granddaughter of Henry Nowak, shown here with one of his early zithers. After a long run in Vaudeville, Henry Nowak settled in Chicago where he and his ensemble performed regularly in the Bierstube of the Bismarck Hotel. For more information on the life of Henry Nowak, see his story "What is a Symphonichord?"