Fredericksburg Music Club, Inc.

 

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Fredericksburg Music Club

In the late 1800s, a group of ladies interested in classical music gathered together with the goal of promoting culture. These were the humble beginnings of what would become the Fredericksburg Music Club (FMC), founded on May 24, 1937 (then called the Music Study Club). The ladies would meet one evening a month at a members’ home, and the inclusion of men in the club came many years later. The founder of the club was Mrs. William (Alma) Dietel. Alma was born July 8, 1887 in Fredericksburg, Texas. Although she didn’t play any instruments, she loved music.

Mrs. Alma Dietel’s daughter, Erna Dietel Heinen (born January 10, 1915 in Fredericksburg, Texas), was also active in the club. Like her mother, Erna loved music, and she also played the piano. She worked for the newspaper (as a reporter for the society page), which helped the publicity of the group. The published yearbooks show that yearly topics were chosen and then discussed. The topics included emphases on certain eras of music, composers, or instruments. The program leader of each meeting would secure music, either recorded or live, to illustrate the presented topic. One notable presentation for the club was a presentation by Lady Bird Johnson on September 26, 1959. This was while Lyndon Johnson was the U.S. vice president, and Lady Bird’s topic was “Music in the White House.”

Frances Ernst Gibson helped transform the Music Study Club, an exclusive women’s club of only 33 members, to the Fredericksburg Music Club. Frances was born in San Antonio, Texas. Her father was the owner of the Loyal Music Company and later the J.O. Ernst Piano Company on Main Street next to Dietel Publishing in Fredericksburg. She studied music (piano & organ) at Our Lady of the Lake University where she received her bachelor’s degree in music and continued her studies at the University of Texas in Austin where she received her Master’s degree in music, but gave up a promising career as a concert pianist and returned to Fredericksburg to help her parents. She taught piano and organ lessons to thousands of students over her many years of teaching. She also was our current president’s piano teacher while he was a senior in high school. Frances’ husband, Edwin Gibson, worked alongside her in efforts to gain the club’s tax-exempt status. He also composed proposals hoping to build a performing arts center.

During the early years of the club, the ladies would hold a June tea. This tea became a general membership brunch held in August where members and sponsors could ask questions and be informed about club activities and plans. Eventually however, the August brunch meetings were deemed unnecessary.

Meetings moved from members’ homes to the basement of Community Savings and Loan. In this facility there was a small stage with a piano along with a large area for audience seating. The FMC purchased a Baldwin concert-grand piano in the mid 1960s. With this purchase, the FMC obtained permission to place it in Milam Hall of the McDermot building, upstairs of the old courthouse (now the public library). Milam Hall later became the club’s meeting place and a piano custodian took care of the Baldwin.

As the public library expanded, the FMC was given notice to remove the piano in 1984. The instrument was moved to the Historical Society Center (located on West San Antonio Street), which had previously been First Methodist church. The building’s sanctuary had been converted into a stage area with the pews serving as audience seating. The first FMC program held in this space was in December of 1984. With this, programs were held on different days at different times, while membership and interest declined. By 1987, the year of the club’s golden anniversary, programs had dwindled to three or four a year.

These changes prompted a few club modifications. The club constitution was revised on June 24, 1987 and the name was changed from Fredericksburg Music Study Club to Fredericksburg Music Club. The name change helped the organization sound more generalized and less academic, hoping to attract more members and interest. During this time, Frances Gibson petitioned the board for an increase in dues and encouragement of husbands to join their wives as members.

The number of yearly programs was also increased to eight between September and June, excluding December. The image on the yearbook cover was changed to a new design in September 1988. Concerning programs, in the beginning musician friends of members would perform at little or no cost to the club. In 1997, the Music Club was able to bring Jan Gottlieb Jiracek, a Van Cliburn finalist to perform and this connection started a relationship that continues. Every year, the music club opens the year (in September) with a finalist of the Van Cliburn competition.

In 1993, the piano was moved to the Fredericksburg United Methodist Church on Llano Street, and this is where it resided until 2010, when it was replaced with a Steinway which still resides in the Sanctuary of the church. (Side note: The Baldwin which was originally the Music Club’s was restored and after an interesting journey, made its way back to the church and is located in the church’s choir room.)

The FMC became incorporated as a non-profit 501(c)3 organization on March 26, 1991. Because of this, donations are tax deductible. There is no charge for concerts as all concerts are funded through private and corporate donations through mail or at the door.

A website for the club was established in 2010 (www.fredericksburgmusicclub.com) and serves as the main form of communication and information. The site includes lists of concert schedules, past presidents, past performers since 2005, board members, a “hall of fame,” and corporate sponsors listing. It also gives information about membership and patronage with the option of donating online. There are links for contacting the club, reading the bylaws, and printing advertisements with the concert schedule.

Presidents:
Mrs. Robert Blum (1937-1938)
Mrs. William (Alma) Dietel (1939-1940)
Mrs. Lester Keyser (1940-1942)
Mrs. William Dietel (1942-1946)
Mrs. Harvey Stein (1946-1948)
Mrs. Alonzo Evers (1948-1950)
Mrs. T. Wright Neal (1950-1952)
Mrs. Temple Duderstadt (1952-1953)
Mrs. Victor Nixon (1953-1954)
Mrs. Erna Heinen (1954-1956)
Mrs. H.H. Fricke (1956-1957)
Miss Flora Wertheim (1957-1958)
Mrs. Tom (Betty) Weinheimer (1958-1960)
Mrs. Max Beckmann (1960-1962)
Mrs. Erna Heinen (1962-1964)
Mrs. Theo Lindig (1964-1965)
Mrs. Clifford (Carla) Edge (1965-1966)
Mrs. Jane Stehling (1966-1967)
Mrs. Underwood Rowntree (1967-1968)
Mrs. J.W. Bauer (1968-1970)
Mrs. Erna Heinen (1970-1972)
Mrs. Charles Grote (1972-1973)
Mrs. Revecca Howerton (1973-1976)
Sister Benilde Broussard (1976-1977)
Mrs. Milton Crenwelge (1977-1978)
Mrs. Erna Heinen (1978-1980)
Mrs. Richard Smith (1980-1982)
Mrs. Lucille Rochs (1982-1984)
Mrs. Louise Nixon (1984-1986)
Mrs. Donna Johnson (1986 -1988)
Mrs. Forest Rees, Jr. (1988-1990)
Mrs. Frances Ernst Gibson (1990-1993)
Mrs. Forest Rees, Jr. (1993-1995)
Mr. Voy Althaus (1995-1999)
Mr. Oscar Metzger (1999 – 2001)
Mr. Voy Althaus (2001 – 2002)
Mrs. Patsy Hejl (2002 – 2010)
Mr. Mark Eckhardt (2010 – 2017)

 


Fredericksburg Music Club, Inc. - 501 (C) 3 Organization
P.O. Box 1214, Fredericksburg, Texas 78624


First Music Study Club Program ___ Contact Us ___ FMC Bylaws