100 Years of Zither in Chicago

Several notable things happened in 1913. The US Constitution was amended to permit the federal government to levy an income tax for the first time. Harriet Tubman, noted abolitionist and a leader of the Underground Railroad died. In the same year, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jesse Owens and Rosa Parks were born, as was the famous Hollywood Film Director Stanley Kramer. In that year Harry Houdini began his upside-down escape act. Albert Einstein was appointed Professor of theoretical physics at the Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, and, perhaps as a foreshadowing of future events, Al Capone was expelled from school for hitting a teacher.

Another notable thing that happened in 1913 was the establishment of the Chicago Zither Club.

Houdini’s escape act is now gone. So are all the people mentioned above. In fact, the only things which started in 1913 that are still with us are the Federal Income Tax and the Chicago Zither Club.

On April 28, 2013, the Chicago Zither Club celebrated its 100th Anniversary with a gala concert at the Danube Swabian Club in Des Plaines, IL.

Hundreds of attendees heard the Chicago Zither Club perform several new songs. That was followed by three selections performed by several members of the Davenport Zither Ensemble who had made the trip to help the celebration.

Tomy Temerson, world-renowned master zitherist from Germany performed three songs that had been popular in Germany in 1913. His masterful renditions brought the audience to its feet in a standing ovation.

A few zither players from around the US also traveled to Des Plaines to help celebrate this momentous milestone, including yours truly. The entire zither orchestra performed Festmarsch by Pugh/Jellinghaus, Freddy Golden’s Sonatine Facile, Shostakowitsj’ 2nd Waltz, and Lara’s Theme from Doctor Zhivago. Following another standing ovation, the group played the euphemistically called “National Anthem” of zither players around the world, The Third Man Theme, written by Anton Karras.

Congratulations to the members of the Chicago Zither Club and Kudos to all who made this special celebration so memorable. Here’s to another 100 Years of Zither in Chicago!

 Bill Kolb, “Doctor Zither” (l) & Tomy Temerson