David Schnaufer, 53, Revived Dulcimer

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David Schnaufer, a session musician widely credited with restoring the popularity of the dulcimer, died Wednesday of cancer in Nashville, Tenn. He was 53.

Schnaufer who was adjunct associate professor of the instrument at Vanderbilt University, recorded with Johnny Cash and Chet Atkins.

He grew up in rural Texas, and bought his first dulcimer in Austin for $40.

The dulcimer evolved from zithers brought into North America by German immigrants in the 17th and 18th centuries and was common in Appalachian folk music.

After winning several dulcimer contests and sending out recordings to country labels and artists, Schnaufer moved to Nashville in the 1980s, according to a release from Vanderbilt.

Besides Cash and Atkins, Schnaufer’s recorded with The Judds, June Carter Cash, Kathy Mattea, Mark Knopfler, Emmylou Harris and many others.

“Anybody can make beautiful music in five minutes of playing the dulcimer,” Schnaufer often said. “It’s the simplest of all the stringed instruments, but can be as complex as anything else.”

Schnaufer recorded solo albums, including “Delcimore” and “Dulcimer Deluxe.”

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