In the late 19th century Germans outnumbered both Hispanics and Anglos in the population of San Antonio. Our neighborhood was called Kaiser Wilhelm or, jokingly, Sauerkraut Bend. The German immigrants built the German-English School (on South Alamo across the street from Beethoven Hall) to educate their children for life in their newly adopted home.
To keep the memories and traditions of the homeland alive they gathered to sing, talk and make a little piece of Germany in San Antonio. Thus began the Beethoven Maennerchor (men’s choir) in July of 1867. It has met at its present location, 422 Pereida Street, since 1920. Membership stands at over 600 now. The Damenchor, or women’s choir, was founded in 1932 and a concert band formed in 1943. The Kinderchor was established in 1977 for Beethoven children to join the singing.
Today the Beethoven is livelier than ever with First Friday events often featuring an exuberant rock or swing dance band. There are Gartenfests in the beer garden throughout the year and, of course, October is Fest-full. It couldn’t be German without lots of great beer on tap. Check out www.beethovenmaennerchor.com for a listing of activities and come join the fun and share the history.
While the King William Association celebrates 50 years, the Beethoven is celebrating 150. Prosit!
- Anne Alexander and Georg Seidel