Originally from Prussia, Philip Louis Brachet immigrated to the United States in 1860 and settled in Philadelphia, PA. From his home, he gave music lessons, sold musical instruments and composed numerous pieces for the piano and zither. In this article we present what is known of Philip Louis Brachet, former music teacher, composer and zitherist from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Philip Louis Brachet was born in ~ 1828 in Prussia. While details of his early life in Prussia are unclear, records indicate he immigrated to the United States in 1860 and became a naturalized citizen on April 28 of the same year.

A few years after coming to the US, Philip Brachet became established as a musician. From his residence at 602 Callowhill St. in Philadelphia, he sold instruments and offered music lessons. On September 9, 1865, an advertisement in the Philadelphia Inquirer reads: "MUSIC STORE - LOUIS BRACHET. NO. 602 CALLOWHILL street respectfully invites the public to examine his well assorted stock of Violins, Guitars, Zithers, Flutes, Accordeons and all kinds of Musical Instruments. Genuine Italian and best German strings always on hand. Music LESSONS - Instruction given on the Zither, Guitar and Violin. LOUIS BRACHET. No. 602 CALLOWHILL St."

Philip Brachet was in contact with and may have sold instruments made by Franz Schwarzer, the leading American zither maker of the day. He is also known to have been in contact with the Martin Guitar Co., located in Nazareth, PA. A limited number of zithers, made by the Martin Guitar Co. were provided for him upon special request. Along with his specially made zithers, it is also likely that Martin guitars were available for purchase at his music shop as well.

Census records for 1880 provide details of Philip Brachet's family and their occupations. Philip Brachet's (52) occupation is listed as "musician." His wife Katharine (48), also from Prussia, is responsible for "keeping house." His son William (18) was born in Pennsylvania and is employed as a "compositor," also referred to as a typesetter.

Photo Courtesy Washington Historical Society © (Washington, Missouri)

A prolific composer of pieces for the piano and zither, a number of Philip Brachet's works are now archived at the Library of Congress. One piece for the zither, titled "Erinnerung an Nazareth" (Memory of Nazareth), provides a clue that he travelled to Nazareth, PA on at least one occasion. It is unknown what his specific purpose was for traveling to Nazareth, but it may have been for the purpose of picking up his specially made zithers and other instruments from the Martin Guitar Co. to sell at his residence on Callowhill St. "Erinnerung an Nazareth," written as a polka, hints that his visit to Nazareth, PA was a pleasant one.

On Wednesday, June 19, 1889, at the age of 61, Ph. Louis Brachet passed away. His obituary notice, published in the Philadelphia Inquirer on June 22, 1889 reads "Philip Louis Brachet, on the 19th inst., aged 61 years, 9 months. The relatives and friends of the family, also Franconia Lodge, No. 189, I. O. O. F.; Walhalla Encampment, No. 7, I. O. O. F.; Teutonia Lodge, No. 9, O. D. H. S.; Philadelphia Musical Association, also Maennerchor Singing Society, are respectfully invited to attend the funeral, on Sunday afternoon, at 3 o'clock, from his late residence, No. 602 Callowhill street."

For the enjoyment of the zither community, the following works by Ph. Louis Brachet are provided in the following table. If the reader should have additional works by him, that are not included here, please contact us.

SM-0002 Albert Tungmann Ph. Louis Brachet Heimweh (Longing for Home) Hamilton S. Gordon, 13 East 14th St., near 5th Ave Code: O
SM-0259 Traditional Ph. Louis Brachet Haidenröslein / Wann I In Der Früh Aufsteh R. von Minden, New York Code: O
SM-0260 Stephen Foster / Traditional Ph. Louis Brachet Ellen Bayne / Einsam Bin Ich Nicht Alleine R. von Minden, New York Code: O
SM-0262 Traditional Ph. Louis Brachet Muss I Denn Zum Städtle Hinaus / Drunten Im Unterland R. von Minden, New York Code: O
SM-0264 Traditional Ph. Louis Brachet Ach Wie Ist's Möglich Dann / Wenn Die Blümlein Draussen Zittern / In Einem Kühlen Grunde / Lorelei / Mutterseelen Allein R. von Minden, New York Code: O
SM-0265 Traditional Ph. Louis Brachet An Adelheid / Aus Dem Letzten Fensterln R. von Minden, New York Code: O
SM-0266 Traditional / Hart Pease Danks Ph. Louis Brachet Long, Long Ago / Silver Threads Among The Gold R. von Minden, New York Code: O

Do you have information that can help us piece together more of Ph. Louis Brachet's life? If so, email dave@zither.us, or use the provided contact form.

Our thanks go to George Bocklage of the Washington Historical Society (www.washmohistorical.org) for providing the photograph of Philip Louis Brachet and to John Maurath, staff member at the Missouri Civil War Museum at historic Jefferson Barracks (www.mcwm.org), for research assistance along the way.