Anton KarasThe Harry Lime Theme (aka The Third Man Theme) (via Third Man & Other Original Recordings)

Originally published in TIME Magazine, Nov. 28th, 1949:

“For most of British history, Englishmen have been able to take zither music—or leave it to the Tyrolese. Last week, nonetheless, the humble, lap-sized stringed instrument was the musical rage of London.

Big reason for the zither dither: the catchy, twangy background music that British Cinema Director Carol Reed had worked into his new smash hit, The Third Man. The picture demanded music appropriate to post-World War II Vienna, but Director Reed had made up his mind to avoid schmalzy, heavily orchestrated waltzes. In Vienna one night Reed listened to a wine-garden zitherist named Anton Karas, was fascinated by the jangling melancholy of his music.

Later Reed summoned thick-spectacled, 43-year-old Anton Karas to London, kept him plucking away at his tunes for six weeks while Reed recorded a sound track. When the film was released two months ago in England, Karas’ music caused as much of a furor as Reed’s directing, Graham Greene’s lickety-split script, or the acting of the all-star cast [The Harry Lime Theme was released as a single and became a best-seller— within two months of its release, over 300,000 records had sold and Karas had become an international star]”



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