Home » Fidelis Zitterbart Manuscripts

Fidelis Zitterbart Manuscripts

What’s online?

The entire collection is scanned and online.

What’s in the entire collection?

The collection contains approximately 1,500 music compositions, all in Fidelis Zitterbart's hand. Many of the scores feature Zitterbart’s personal calligraphy in the noting of titles, often with pasted-over images that were evocative of the music’s meaning to the composer. The scores are notated in both blue and black ink and sometimes in pencil, on standard 14-stave lined sheets in upright format, or in oblong format. Emendations by the composer appear in ink and/or pencil. The paper, produced in the late nineteenth- and early-twentieth centuries is acidic, often brittle. The collection has been digitized to allow for greater access to researchers as well as to limit the need to access the fragile original materials. Few, if any of the works in the collection were ever commercially published. In processing this collection, we respected the original order in which the manuscripts were received. However, whenever a work is in a particular musical genre (suites, sonatas, duos, quartets, etc.) and is also numbered by the composer, we rearranged these items to bring them together for ease of discoverability.

About Fidelis Zitterbart

Fidelis Zitterbart was born April 9, 1845 in Pittsburgh, Pa., to Fidelis Sr. and Frederica Zitterbart. His father was well-known as a violinist, but also as a conductor and composer who came to the United States as a member of a troupe of instrumentalists from Prague, one of many European musical organizations who saw in this country an untapped audience. When this troupe was disbanded in 1837 without ever completing its tour, Fidelis Sr., after stays in New York and New Orleans, decided to settle in Pittsburgh. The family occupied a small house on 10th Street in Pittsburgh’s South Side neighborhood, where Fidelis Jr. was born; his father was his first music teacher. At age 9, Fidelis Jr. became one of the violinists in his father’s orchestra, and at this time began to put his musical ideas on paper.

Fidelis Jr. worked with local teachers until the age of 16, when like many musical prodigies, he was sent to Europe to continue his studies. Departing New York in 1861, he travelled to Dresden to continue his violin studies with François Schubert (1808-1878), and theory and keyboard with Julius Rühlmann (1816-1877). Fidelis returned to the United States in 1863 and stayed in New York City where he was a member of several premier musical organizations, including his father’s New York Theatre orchestra, first violinist with the Theodore Thomas Orchestra, concertmaster of the Strakosch Opera orchestra, and a member of the Brooklyn and New York Philharmonic societies.

In 1873, Fidelis returned to Pittsburgh as an instructor at Andrew Williams’s American Conservatory of Music, located at 41 Fifth Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh. When the school fell on hard times and closed, Zitterbart opened his own school in the same location, acting as teacher, performer, and composer. He was highly itinerant in Pittsburgh as to dwelling places: he maintained houses in the Hill District (on Crawford and Reed Streets [1874-1877]); Uptown (on Pride and Marion Streets [1878-1911]; in Shadyside (on Summerlea Street [1912-1913]; and finally in Highland Park on North Highland Avenue [1915]. He passed away on August 30, 1915 and was interred in Allegheny Cemetery.

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