First without title, based on a melody Karas had found in a practice book with zither etudes. Rough recording Third Man director Carol Reed had taken back to England to be certain it matched the film's intended mood. Version opening Anton Karas' cd The First Man Of The Zither (Jasmine).
Anton Karas [in film The Third Man; n°1 UK & US (for 11 weeks)]
Guy Lombardo [n°1 US for a further 11 weeks]
Bob Hope, Bing Crosby & Judy Garland [as a comedy ditty for a radio broadcast]
Hank Snow & Chet Atkins [guitar instrumental]
Eddie Cochran [as Fourth Man Theme]
Skatalites [as Third Man Ska]
Victor Borge [persiflage]
Waikikis [as Third Man Tamouré]
Martin Carthy [Celtic version]
Zither player Karas had lived the life of a street musician when at the age of 43 fate struck. Director Carol Reed had just finished the shooting of his film with Orson Welles (Harry Lime), when all he needed was the music. Action took place in Vienna, so waltzes would make for an obvious choice, too obvious if you asked Reed, but he had no alternative. Until one night he strolled past a Heurigen (wine café) and heard a zither playing, who else but Anton Karas. Carol knew at once he had found the sound he was looking for, took Karas to London and made him do the whole score. One of the themes was a piece Karas had composed some twenty years before and that became The Third Man Theme, AKA The Harry Lime Theme. Recorded under Reed's kitchen table for spooky effect reasons and an early example of overdubbing. And while this once titleless piece hit on both sides of the Atlantic, Karas as usual played the streets of Vienna for circus money. In the long run he opened his own Heurigen (named 'Zum Dritten Mann', you bet) in the village of Sievering, near Vienna. See also: Danube Incident.