Cleveland’s famous Beckerath organ gets a boost with a $100K donation

Donor gives $100,000 to Trinity Lutheran Church’s Beckerath organ restoration fund

Published: Tuesday, January 04, 2011, 11:38 AM     Updated: Wednesday, January 05, 2011, 10:46 AM
By Donald Rosenberg, The Plain Dealer
Thomas Ondrey, The Plain Dealer
Florence Mustric plays the Beckerath organ at Cleveland’s Trinity Lutheran Church. The instrument is undergoing a restoration that should be completed this year, thanks to a $100,000 contribution from an anonymous donor.

An anonymous donor who loves Baroque organ music has pumped $100,000 into a fund supporting the restoration of the Beckerath organ at Trinity Lutheran Church on Cleveland’s West Side.

Until recently, the Beckerath Organ Restoration Fund stood at $142,000, about half the amount needed to refurbish the 1956 instrument. The $100,000 donation will enable the project to be completed this year, said organist Florence Mustric, who chairs Friends of the Beckerath.

Mustric said 92 percent of the $142,000 came “not in major gifts, but in small and modest donations over three years, ranging from a great many $1 bills to a few $1,000 checks.” The donors have comprised music lovers from across Northeast Ohio and the country, including members of the Organ Historical Society.

The church’s admired organ was built by Rudolph von Beckerath of Hamburg, Germany. It is being restored by Leonard Berghaus, founder of Berghaus Pipe Organ Builders in Bellwood, Ill., who was inspired to become an organ builder by Trinity’s Beckerath.

The instrument has been undergoing restoration in stages, as funding has allowed, since 2007. After a concert Sunday, Jan. 16 by organist David Tidyman, who’ll present a program titled “Bach as Visionary and Mystic,” pipes and several divisions of the Beckerath will go to Berghaus for restoration.

Mustric said this stage should be completed by April, after which the final stage, including renewal of the console, will follow.

The anonymous donor has been a fan of the Beckerath for two decades, said Mustric.

“When we first met, I expressed surprise that he knew nothing about it,” she said. “I said, ‘I have the keys to the candy store’ and invited him to come hear it and play it. His first words on hearing it were, ‘This is not the candy store.’ Stunned, I said, ‘No?’ He said, ‘This is no candy store – this is Fort Knox!’ ”

Mustric said the $100,000 donation will make it possible for her and Trinity organist and director of music Robert Myers to pursue foundation support for the restoration.

“Bob is speechless,” said Mustric of the $100,000 donation. “I’m stunned, but, as you see, I am not speechless, which is a good thing.”

Mustric and Myers alternate as soloists in free recitals on Wednesday afternoons in Trinity’s Music Near the Market series. The church is at 2031 West 30th St., Cleveland.

Congratulations to the indefatigable Florence Mustric on this great advance in preserving the historic Rudolph von Beckerath organ at Trinity Lutheran Church. It is one of the treasures of Cleveland’s musical culture.

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