Art&Seek presents This Week in Texas Music History. Every week, we’ll spotlight a different moment and the musician who made it. This week, Texas music scholar Gary Hartman looks at a singing group that was founded in the 1800s but still performs today.
You can also hear This Week in Texas Music History on Friday on KXT and Saturday on KERA radio. But subscribe to the podcast so you won’t miss an episode. And our thanks to KUT public radio in Austin for helping us bring this segment to you.
And if you’re a music lover, be sure to check out Track by Track, the bi-weekly podcast from Paul Slavens, host of KERA radio’s 90.1 at Night.
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On Feb. 24, 1867, German Texans living in San Antonio founded the Beethoven Mannerchor, a men’s choral group. As with other German-Texas singing societies, the Beethoven Mannerchor was intended to help preserve and celebrate German heritage through music. The group performed regularly throughout Texas and constructed its own concert hall in 1895. When that burned down in 1913, it built the Beethoven Hall, which is still in use today. The Beethoven Mannerchor eventually expanded to include a women’s choir and children’s choir. Despite widespread persecution of German Texans during both world wars, the Beethoven Maennerchor and several other German singing societies managed to survive and continue to perform at festivals and other events throughout the state.
Next time on This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll celebrate a poor farm boy who became a “king.”