The idea of an award to amateur musicians originated in 1904 to honour the musical contributions of Carl Friedrich Zelter (born in 1758) who from his early studies with a singers academy was responsible for the formation of the first "Berliner Liedertafel" in 1808. It was the Akron Liedertafel in Ohio USA celebrating their 25th anniversary in 1904 that approached the Berliner Liedertafel to perhaps consider a recognition for such an achievement. The first 4 medals (in silver), carrying the picture of C.F. Zelter, were finally produced in1909 to commemorate the 25th jubilee of the Akron Liedertafel. Up to 1930 some 31 medals had been issued as rewards for the maintenance of German song. These included the Moskauer Liedertafel and the Deutchen Männergesangverein Prague, and in 1930 to the Erfurter Männergesangverein.
Eventually the medal was made available to amateur choirs that had achieved 50, 75 and 100 year anniversaries and the original designs were modified and produced in bronze, silver and gold. This continued until 1942, but in 1940 it had been decided that any applications received would be considered after the end of the second world war. The initiative to continue the issuing of medals was taken by the Deutsche Sängerbund and supported since 1956 by the then German President, Theodore Heuss. The design of the medal varied slightly and carried the same German eagle as found on the old 1 and 2 mark coins.
For a biography of Carl Friedrich Zelter, click here.