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.
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.
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.
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
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 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.
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.
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.
In Europe, the art and science of musical instrument making is a tradition that spans centuries. In particular, instrument making in Markneukirchen, Germany, has been traced to the early 1600s. In this article, zitherist William Kolb explores the musical foundations of Markneukirchen and visits a workshop where the tradition of instrument making is kept alive and well by Steffen and Frank Meinel, the Master Zither makers at Horst Wunsche Zitherbau KG.
From playing carols as a child during Christmas, to his studies and his work abroad as an engineer in South Africa, the zither has accompanied Hans Waskoenig on his journey through life every step of the way. Now retired, Hans has found new inspiration through his music, working to better the lives of children in South Africa.