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Established June 2, 1997
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March 16, 1998
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August 13, 1997
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Alfred G. Zantzinger
(This obituary by Sally A. Downey appeared in the March 5, 2007 Philadelphia Inquirer.)
Alfred Geist "Gei" Zantzinger, 70, of Devault, Chester County, an ethnomusicologist and independent filmmaker who worked to preserve endangered cultures, died of leukemia Feb. 16 at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
For more than 35 years, Mr. Zantzinger made documentaries exploring folklore subjects, including Pipers and Wrens (about the Breton region of France), Songs of the Adventurers (about migrant mine workers in Lesotho, Africa), and Songs of the Badius (featuring native music of the Cape Verde Islands). He also coproduced bluegrass, jazz, and African folk music albums for several record companies. His 1976 album Ola Belle Reed and Family is in the Country Music Hall of Fame.
He published two books and many papers and articles, and lectured and presented his films at universities and at festivals worldwide. Since the 1980s, he had owned Constant Spring Productions in Devault. In 2006, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Society of Ethnomusicology. Mr. Zantzinger - a grandson of architect C.C. Zantzinger, who contributed to the design of the Philadelphia Museum of Art - grew up in Villanova. He graduated from Westminster School in Connecticut and earned bachelor's and master's degrees in folklore anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania.
He spent time in South Africa in the 1970s collecting and archiving music with ethnomusicologist Hugh Tracey. He became fascinated with the continent, making 14 films about sub-Saharan Africa, said Lynne Dian Gulezian, his life partner. The couple met in 1978 when his Religion at the Family Level, about ancient ritual music of Zimbabwe, was shown in a program she produced for Channel 12.
In addition to his partner, Mr. Zantzinger is survived by sons T. Barton II and Daniel; daughters Laura and Gretchen; and five grandchildren. His former wife, Ruth Barnes Mull, and daughter Rachel preceded him in death.
A memorial service will be held April 6 at 6 p.m. at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, 3260 South St.
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