PHOTOS (top to bottom):
- Anton Karas (ca. 1955), playing a Karas-zither.
- "Weinschenke zum dritten mann" (ca. 1955)...note Karas's house on the hill in the background.
- Anton Karas, playing a Karas-zither with his "Two Rudi's" (ca. 1955)
- Anton Karas (ca. 1960) with a hand-written note to his wife "Der lieben Gattin..." - "To my beloved wife Dolli - 23/07/63".
ANTON KARAS - b. July 7, 1906 in Vienna; d. January 9, 1985 in Vienna
Anton Karas was just another Viennese zither player, performing
at different wine gardens at night and working at odd jobs during
the day. That was, until he was "discovered" by Carol
Reed, producer of the movie The Third Man, to score the music
for the film. The rest was then history.
"The Third Man Theme" *
* Used in the movie The Third Man
some of which were
merely incidental background pieces, later to be given names.
Directly after his success with the movie The Third Man, Karas had his dream zither made. This zither use acoustic amplification of the accompaniment and base strings (often overpowering the melody strings). This amplification was achieved by leaving the instruments thickness on the fret board side of about one inch. However, the thickness on the opposite side was increased almost two-fold! Several of this type were made, and were known as "Karas-zithern" by the Austrian music trade. Some of the accompanying photos show this type of instrument. He did not play this type of zither until after the advent of The Third Man. Karas never again had the film success that he earned with The Third Man. His "Third Man Theme" earned him the title of the king of the one-song composers. If all were told, his "Third Man Theme" is one of the most recognizable melodies, even to this day, with sales and performances at an all-time high for a "one-song composer."
The music-track for the film The Third Man was recorded with the zither placed on a small kitchen table set on the wooden floor of the sound studio. Microphones were placed at several levels and positions around the table. The sound engineer then further enhanced the score, with portions dubbed. Truly, the sound was due to Karas' skills, zither tuning and to the fact that he had very strong fingers which enabled him to carry through his style of playing.