The Beethoven Männerchor’s purpose is to preserve German song, music, and language. It is the one of the oldest German singing societies in Texas. Located in beautiful downtown San Antonio, in the Historic King William District, the Beethoven Männerchor has stood as a beacon of culture and heritage since its founding in February of 1867.
An influx of Germans had fled their homelands due to political and economic problems during that time, arriving in south Texas to start a new life. According to the Texas State Historical Association, the Beethoven Männerchor was formed as an offshoot of the San Antonio Männergesang-Verein, which was founded 20 years before the Männerchor came to be. Founder and musical director Simon Menger pumped life into his new club to preserve his heritage. In 1854, W.C.A. Thielepape was elected president, but with the approach of the Civil War, many of the members were called to service. Activity at the Männergesang ceased.
In February 1867, the members re-formed and chose the name Beethoven Männerchor. In 1873, poet and musician Sidney Lanier visited and attended a choir practice with an invitation by friend and Beethoven president, Andreas Schiedemantel. In a letter, Lanier wrote: “Last night at 8 o’clock came Mr. Schiedemantel, a genuine lover of music and a fine pianist, to take me to the Männerchor, which meets every Wednesday night for practice….Presently seventeen Germans were seated at the singing table. Great pipes were all afire. The leader, Herr Thielepape, an old man with a white beard and mustache, formerly mayor of the city, rapped his tuning fork vigorously, gave the chords by arpeggios of his voice (a wonderful high tenor…) and off they all swung into such a noble, noble old full-voice lied [song] that imperious tears rushed to my eyes.”
Nearly 150 years later, many things remain the same. The Männerchor meets at 8 o’clock to rehearse its songbook full of rotating music for any one of the dozens of performances throughout the year. Today, practice is held on Tuesday evenings. However, the same sentiment for friendship, music, and heritage that radiate from the club are the same as they were then. The main building features a large performance space, which is used for concerts as well as other activities. Adjacent to the house is the Garten, which is the site of our Gartenfests, first Fridays, Oktoberfest and Fiesta festivities. A neighboring building, the Kuest Haus, is currently being renovated for use as a museum.
Under the parent organization of this men’s chorus are the Damenchor, or women’s chorus, the Kinderchor, or children’s chorus, Germania Chor, mixed chorus, concert band, and dance band. In addition, the Beethoven hosts the German Folk Dancers, Volkstanz Verein. The organization is designated as a 501c(3).
Please check out our events to see our list of fun activities including Gartenkonzerts, Oktoberfest, Kristkindlemarkt, and First Friday events. The Halle und Garten are available as rentals.