Claus Heide, president of Beethoven Maennerchor, has been in San Antonio for 50 years, and he has worked with Beethoven Maennerchor for 34 years. Photo by Al Rendon.
This piece ws originally published in the The San Antonio Report. The photo is by Al Rendon, the words are by Claus Heide.
Basically, the German influence in San Antonio is the same today as it was 100 years ago. The purpose of the Beethoven Maennerchor is the preservation of German music, culture, and language. So far, we’re doing pretty good – in two years we will have our 150-year celebration. We are now the oldest singing society in the United States – many of the other groups have died out. We’re doing well thanks to the new, young members of the group – their grandparents were society members, and then their parents, and now the younger generation is joining to keep the tradition alive. It’s a good thing, because we’re all getting older.
Some people find us on Facebook, other people ask around to find out if there’s a German organization in town. We also do Fiesta (sounds of Gartenfest preparation filtered through the conversation), First Fridays, and a small fest on third Fridays every month – it’s not just during Fiesta that we host events. We draw a lot of interest from young people in those events. We get a good deal of interest – the youngest new member of the organization is 28 years old, who is just slightly younger than our large group of 30 year olds. Our membership is getting younger, so we might keep up German culture in San Antonio for another 150 years.