Sam passed away October 26, 2021 after a brief illness, but his legacy lives on through these pages. Find out about about Sam's instruments, read essays by Sam, and explore links to his CDs and books. All of his sheet music is available to download for personal use. The instruments Sam owned at the time of his death are listed here on the 'For Sale' menu.
Contributions in memory of Sam should be directed to:
Hospice Of The Panhandle
230 Hospice Lane
Kearneysville, WV 25430
Sam Rizzetta was a musician and instrument maker whose many design innovations redefined the contemporary hammered dulcimer. Every modern hammered dulcimer made today incorporates one or more elements of his designs. The tone of Sam’s dulcimers and his heartfelt and ornamented playing style have been called “resonantly sensual magic,” and “awe inspiring.” His performance credits include The Kennedy Center and The National Cathedral, TV, and radio appearances. Rizzetta recordings include 15 CDs featuring dulcimers, and there are four book collections of his original compositions.
Sam was nominated for a National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship for lifetime achievement in the arts. In 1975 Sam formed the renowned hammer dulcimer quartet, TRAPEZOID. Shortly later he started the dulcimer program at the Augusta Heritage Center and taught there for over 25 years. For many years he also wrote the Technical Column for the Dulcimer Players News. Rizzetta dulcimers have been exhibited at the Smithsonian Institution and the National Folk Festival, and featured in Fine Woodworking Magazine. Sam pioneered features that have become essential to the modern dulcimer and are enjoyed by almost all of today’s players, performers, and builders. Many top performers play Rizzetta instruments or instruments of his design.