Seven young Germans who liked to gather by candlelight to sing popular male choruses of their fatherland organized the Maennerchor in 1854. The group rapidly developed into an amateur music society of distinction that influenced the musical culture of Indianapolis for over a century.

Indianapolis Maennerchor performance, 1982 Credit: IndyStar View Source

The Maennerchor belonged to the North American Saengerbund (NASB), a federation of German singing societies that held choral festivals throughout the Midwest. In 1867, the Maennerchor hosted the NASB’s 15th National Saengerfest, a four-day event that consisted of three concerts, a parade, a Grand Ball, and a picnic. In June of 1908, with the assistance of other Indianapolis German American organizations, it again hosted a NASB Saengerfest. Walter Damrosch conducted the festival’s five concerts, which featured four eminent soloists: Marie Rappold, Ernestine Schumann-Heink, Adolf Muehlmann, and David Bispham.

In the late 1800s, the Maennerchor’s concerts, masked balls, and operetta productions earned the society high praise from the community. The patronage of John P. Frenzel II, president from 1906 to 1933, enabled the Maennerchor to present over 200 guest artists in its concert series. The Maennerchor continued to delight audiences with its performances, including its notable Triad Concerts with the Knights of Columbus Columbians and the Murat Temple Chanters, through most of the 2010s. The group made its last performance at the Old National Centre, formerly Murat Temple, on April 14, 2018.

Revised February 2021

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