Musical instruments and their history: the Concert Zither …



[Excerpts from a NDR script “The Zither” von Trevor Peters 1991 – the original film, I could not find]

Als Anton Karas 1949 the music for the feature film “The Third Man” created, the zither was an almost-forgotten instrument, at best good for the Alpine folk music.
Soon after, the whole world knew of the Zither, but the chance for a great musical blossoming passed unused. Today, however, this opportunity is given again. The zither is an instrument on the Move – though hardly known.

The piano in the Alps – or the Bechstein the mountains, whom Karl Valentin soft – accompanies himself. It has both melody- and chord strings, ideal for the entertainer. But as the composer of the popular melodies not particularly to “Music to the mountain” have thought, they must be rewritten for the zither. The situation is similar with classical music.

In the works of classical composers, the zither is completely absent, for that reason alone, because they did not exist at that time as a standardized instrument. But to respond to the lack of large original works with edits can be seen on concert stages and hear the zither can.

How diverse is the zither used, shows the side of the Viennese zither teacher Quartet or Zither Pielmeier.

Where, however, the zither is originally at home? It has developed in the field of alpine folk music, one has used them for entertainment: The farmers on long winter evenings,in the summer on the pasture, to celebrate a special day in the village and at any time in the tavern. The Tyrolean mountain farmers have always worked hard for very little profit. A yard like this with 15 Cows and sheep etlichem holds today only as a secondary operation. Here Kasper Aschaber has had his work life a scarce livelihood. Now he is Austragsbauer and when he thinks back, then the 65 Been years zither playing with the best.

On a carefree imperfection is everything, and on tunes, the one just jump in the fingers. And to get a feel for the right piece at the right time. Ein Instrument, which is in the mountains at home, had to fit easily into your backpack and simple to build. The immediate predecessor of the zither is the Logs. This from the 18th C has three playing strings, stretched over a resonator box, and three strings for the accompanying game have already been added. Originally only the playing strings were present. A simpler instrument is difficult to imagine. The great instrument experts Michael Praetorius, it has to “Lumpeninstrumenten” counted.

The development towards more game- and chord strings and a matching form, as in this Alpine zither from the 18th C, took place according to the ingenuity and the talent of the player – by no means uniform. Most of the players built their instrument itself.

The jump from the backpack in the bürglichen Salon was managed with the help of the courts of nobility, all voran Maximilian Herzog in Bayern. Duke Max was a free spirit, could well float over his time with ample appanage. But he was a man with talents – as a musician, Poet, Equestrian and lover skuriler companies. When he 1837 Bamberg in the Austrian zither player Johann Petzmayer listened for the first time, was Duke Max of the zither sounds so enthusiastic, that he appointed shortly afterwards to his Petzmayer Kammervirtuose for life.

Petzmayer, the made its way only through the inn of the Father and, with increasing fame, had ventured on tour, took charge of his new student. It was the most important meeting of two people in the history of the Zither. Duke Max himself was a virtuoso player. He collected songs and tunes from the folk music and created numerous original compositions. His love for the zither he pressed with the verses from: “Drum is probably me alone with her, because they, the only, understands me. I let people be people and playing on her from morning to night.”

Disguised as a man or as a migrant farmer played on Duke Max in the taverns and on the pasture. “Zithermaxl” he was popularly. His favorite daughter, Elisabeth, was often on the road with him and learned even the zither playing. As later Empress of Austria presented the zither for Sisi connect to happy and carefree days is.

The zither experienced a boom like never before. Following the example of the court discovered the citizens the zither as a new fashionable instrument, just right for the salon music and for the education of daughters. Petzmayer and Duke Max first played on instruments, descended directly from the simple folk zither. With the new popularity, the makers of musical instruments used
now the zither to. A chromatic fretboard was introduced and standardized the listing.

Soon the first concert zither and the instrument makers followed surpassed themselves with ever more sophisticated equipment. The demand for new compositions was enormous, especially after pieces of music, who had a classic character, that sounded more elegant than popularly, as the “Hubert Quadrille” Herzog von Max.

The first important – perhaps the most important – Step in building a zither is the selection of tone woods. Call waiting You can recognize the later tone color of the instrument. For floor and ceiling only mountain spruce comes into question. The growth of the trees in the mountains is very slow, the annual rings are close together, while the wood a fast growing tree would be too vague. At least 200 Years old, a suitable tree must be and there are no more stocks in Germany.

Lili Brandl Meier was only the second person, taught the harp as a major at Einern German Conservatory. In front of her, her father had already, Richard Grünewald, taught in pre-war Berlin at the Stern Conservatory. Followed Mrs. Brandl Meier 1960 his example in Munich.

Richard Grünewald becoming the biggest zither virtuosi of his time and established a music publishing, today strives yet to the latest in Zither Music. With ten years of the daughter Lili went with her father on tour and everywhere they played to full houses. She recalls an encounter with the composer Bartok, of was surprised and excited, vorführte when her father different games. He could have put an end to the lack of large works for Zither, the Nazis and the war had not come.

Richard Grünewald has made the concert zither capable, But the Nazis were not interested. They needed Heimatklänge. After the war these were again proscribed. The zither was both as people- threatened as well as a concert instrument of extinction.

The Zither Orchestra Pasing has played a pioneering role in the opening of the zither for the New Music. Their performances are notorious for overly conservative zither friends. But the zither desperately needs compositions, the new playing techniques accelerated develop. As the piece “Cetrestra”, the Gernot Sauter 1980 expressly composed for the zither. Now it's many German composers, put that unimagined possibilities in the zither. However, the zither player having to bring a thorough training. This is one cause of hostilities passing, brought against the advocates of traditional zither music Toni Gößwein: The different game skills create a barrier between the world of folk music and concert music.

In an interview with Robert Popp, John Popp und Lothar Lägel: Which challenge is one among them most? Do they feel, to play a largely undiscovered instrument?
The three underline their answers with two jazz tunes, they play. The zither in jazz? Why not? …

Zither-playing at a young age

Zither-playing at a young age

And – then at school I could very well play the zither, now at an advanced age I exercise myself but again in the zither. Not so perfect, but it's fun!

CIAO Hans    Send Article als PDF   

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