Vienna mourns Third Man zither specialist

Vienna mourns Third Man zither specialist


norman lebrecht

August 31, 2021

Vienna’s Third Man Museum is lamenting the death today of Cornelia Mayer, an expert exponent of the soundtrack music of the Carol Reed-Graham Greene film. A bassoonist in several Viennese orchestras, she developed a passion for the elusive zither.


  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    The Third Man music is the first music I am conscious of hearing when I was 3.

  • I saw the Third Man as a young boy and was so affected by the images and the music that I made a music video for YouTube to celebrate that great film.

  • Sisko24 says:

    That soundtrack is so iconic. There are no other like it; you always know which movie is being referenced by it. Sad to hear of the Ms. Mayer’s death. May she rest in peace.

  • CORINNE says:

    It was Anton Karas who composed the music and played it on the ‘Third Man’ soundtrack. Cornelia performed it more recently

  • Karl says:

    I read that Carol Reed decided to use Karas’ zither music after stumbling upon him at a production party. What a fortuitous meeting. The score isn’t the only great thing about that film. Stunning black and white cinematography and a plot with a classic baddie. Harry Lime is still my favorite film villain.

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    Who knew there were two other man zither specialists!

  • Edgar Self says:

    Posted earlier to answer Petros Linardos’s post, which has also disappeared. The zither was a popular hotel entertainment in Vaduz, Liechtenstein, when I was there on a cycling trip from Germany. This post reminded me of Anton Karas, Joseph Cotten, and Orson Welles in Carol Reed’s great film.

    The original score of “Tales of the Vienna Woods” has an extended zither solo introducing the waltz theme, included by Clemens Krauss in his Decca LP with Vienna Philharmonic one of three he made of the New YEAR’S Day program. I thoink the word zither derives from the Indian sitar.

  • Anton H. Paschinger says:

    I’m so sorry. Rest in Peace, Cornelia !