Armonica on Maryland’s Eastern Shore

SALISBURY, MD — Audiences have a rare opportunity to see one of the most unique American musical instruments played in concert as the Peter and Judy Jackson Chamber Music Series presents glass armonica musician William Zeitler.

Performances are 7 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday, November 13-14, in the Great Hall of Salisbury University’s Holloway Hall.

Benjamin Franklin invented the glass armonica in 1761 after watching a colleague from the Royal Academy perform on a set of water glasses while in London representing the Pennsylvania legislature to Parliament. The instrument, a rotating glass cone with ridges used to identify notes, emulated the same tones as the individual glasses. Franklin named the instrument after the Italian word for harmony, “armoia.”

The armonica’s first documented public performance came in early 1762, when well-known London musician Marianne Davies presented a concert on it. Famed hypnotist Franz Mesmer’s use of the instrument to help “mesmerize” his patients drew the attention of Mozart, who wrote works for the armonica, as did Beethoven. Some 200 works for the instrument from the 18th and 19th centuries survive today, the most popular of which is Tchaikovsky’s “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.”

In connection with Zeitler’s visit, SU’s Cultural Affairs Office screens the film Ben Franklin Tech 7 p.m. Monday, November 11, in the Great Hall as part of this semester’s Revolutionary Film Series. This episode of History’s Modern Marvels series examines many of Franklin’s inventions, including the armonica, bifocals and anti-counterfeiting techniques.

University Dining Services hosts the dinner “A Revolutionary Thanksgiving: Cuisine of the 13 Original Colonies” prior to the November 13 performance, from 4:30-7:30 in the Commons.

Part of SU’s International Dinner Series, the menu includes roast turkey with gravy and cranberry sauce, baked ham with madeira cream sauce, artichoke and cheddar cheese pie, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and apples, corn pudding, apple-cranberry-walnut stuffing, oyster stuffing, vegan roasted squash, kale and onions, succotash, cranberry loaf, sweet potato biscuits, corn muffins, Indian pudding, sweet potato buns, apple pie, pecan pie, vegan pumpkin pie, pumpkin pie with whipped topping and Colonial punch. Cost is $11.53, $7 for children age 5 and under.

Admission to the concert and film screening is free and the public is invited. For more information call 410-543-6271 or visit the SU website at