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Images from the Study-Storage Collection

Alpine Zither (Arion Perfecta model) by Franz Schwarzer,
Washington, Missouri, ca. 1891-1920

Portrait of zither

Note: Click on any image on this page to see an enlargement.

NMM 12970. Alpine zither (Arion Perfecta zither) by Franz Schwarzer, Washington, Missouri, ca. 1891-1920. Schwarzer’s Piano Bottom Perfecta Arion Harp. Serial number missing due to fingerboard replacement. 42 strings (5 melody, 24 bass strings, and 13 sub-bass strings). Rosewood veneer, ivory edging and pegs. Body: 480 mm long, 370 mm wide; fretboard: 60 mm wide. One of only 98 Perfecta Arion Harps sold by the Schwarzer company. Ex coll.: John Christian Scherer III, Director, Twin Cities Zither Club, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota. Paul and Jean Christian Collection, 2006.

Front, Side, and Back Views

Front view Melody strings side view Bass strings side view Back view

Schwarzer's Advertisements for Arion Perfecta Zithers and Piano Bottom Zithers

Arion Perfecta Zither advertisement Piano Bottom Zither Advertisement

Schwarzer introduced his piano bottom zithers in 1891.

Soundhole and Maker's Label

Soundhole Schwarzer label

Peghead and Tuning Pins

Peghead Tuning pins for treble strings Tuning pins for bass strings

Details of Body and Replacement Fingerboard

Bass strings Fretboard Treble strings

Name stamped on replacement fingerboard

Replacement Fingerboard by H. Vogl, Munich

Lower End Bridges and String Attachment

Lower end bridges

Lower end string attachment, view 1

Lower end string attachment, view 2

John Christian Scherer III, Zither Virtuoso

John Christian Scherer III, ca. 1920

This Schwarzer zither was the prized possession of Minneapolis zither soloist, John Christian ("JC") Scherer III (b. Minneapolis, 9 June 1876-d. Minneapolis, 14 August 1956). Scherer, who began studying the zither in his youth, became a well-known zither player whose performances included appearances with the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra under the direction of both Henri Verbrugghen (1923-1931) and Antal Dorati (1949-1960). According to the Minneapolis Morning Tribune (January 20, 1953, p. 16), "John C. Scherer, president of the Scherer Printing Co., will leave the workaday world behind today to play his zither with the Minneapolis symphony orchestra at the first 1953 Young People's concert. Scherer, who has played the zither as a hobby since he was a youngster, will play the zither part in the Johann Strauss waltz, 'Tales from the Vienna Woods'." Dorati's subsequent recording, Four Great Waltzes by Johann Strauss (Mercury Classics Olympian Series, MG50019), features Scherer's performance on his Arion Perfecta zither. At the time when this hand-colored publicity photograph was taken, Scherer was the Director of the Twin City Zither Club (organized in 1920) and a member of The United Zither Players of America. Programs and related publicity materials preserved in the Paul and Jean Christian Collection Archive at the NMM reveal that Scherer played this same zither in both solo and ensemble performances at the Fifth and Sixth Congresses of the United Zither Players Association of America, held in Buffalo, NY (1920), and Minneapolis/St. Paul (1922).

Two more zithers from Scherer's personal collection are preserved at the NMM, along with a few photographs, programs, and copies of the Scherer family history:

• NMM 12963. Alpine zither (Salzburger form) attributed to Johann Haslwanter, Munich, ca. 1880-1890. Presented to Scherer by his zither teacher, J. Schwemberger, for whom the zither was originally made. Paul and Jean Christian Collection, 2006.

• NMM 12965. Alpine zither (Salzburger form) by Johann Haslwanter, Munich, ca. 1863-1884. Paul and Jean Christian Collection, 2006.

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