Anton Karas

Anton Karas

Anton Karas, July 7, 1906 – January 10, 1985

The Recordings

The Third Man Theme

Sold! Group: Anton Karas
Label: London Records Matrix Number: London Records (14059)
Record Type: Double sided 10 inch 78 RPM
Date Recorded: 1950
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Anton Karas preferred a quiet life, evidently, playing his zither in Austrian beer gardens. Unfortunately for him, and fortunately for us, he met up with Carol Reed, a British film director who brought Karas to London to write the music for Reed’s upcoming film, “The Third Man.” Karas completed the work under some duress and the soundtrack propelled him onto the world stage. His “Harry Lime Theme” ended up an enduring piece. The zither isn’t nearly as popular as it used to be, but the fact that so many guitar players have adopted this particular piece, it continues to be recognizable today.

I love his delivery here. He plays with heart. He is a thoughtful player and, in some places, I think that’s what makes this sound almost halting. What Karas ends up with here is a tightly wrapped recording that really shows off his folk roots. I like to imagine him sitting alone in the studio, taking it all very seriously, trying to produce the most technically sound recording he can. And, in the end, he pulls it off wonderfully.

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