Nunc dimittis

June 5, 2015

Nunc Dimittis

John Emery Bryant died March 19. Born May 26, 1961, he was organist of Kenilworth Union Church in Kenilworth, Illinois, and had previously served as organist and director of music at St. Gall Catholic Church, Chicago, as organist and teacher at Holy Cross Catholic Church, Deerfield, as curator of organs at the Chapel of the Holy Spirit, Divine Word International, Techny, and as a tuner for the Bradford Organ Company of Northbrook, Illinois. Bryant earned a degree in church music and organ from Northwestern University’s School of Music, where his teachers included Grigg Fountain, Lawrence Davis, and Wolfgang Rübsam. He was invited to play on First Presbyterian Church of Deerfield’s annual Organ-fest, beginning in 1986. and played on every concert until 2014; he was programmed last as he always presented a transcription or piece he had personally transcribed for organ that would be the hit of the concert. John Bryant is survived by his husband John Jaffe.


Georg Friedrich Steinmeyer, 91, died April 9 at Vernon Green Nursing Home in Vernon, Vermont. Born in Oettingen, Bavaria, Germany, on March 1, 1924, he was immediately drafted into the German Army upon completing high school. During World War II, he served in the infantry in Yugoslavia, at the Russian front, and in Denmark. After the war’s end he began formal training as an organ builder in his family’s business, Steinmeyer Organ Company. He traveled to the United States for the first time in 1950 as part of a program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor for technical cooperation with other governments and apprenticed with the Aeolian-Skinner Organ Company. During this time he met organist
E. Power Biggs, with whom he traveled in 1954 to record organs in Southern Germany for Columbia Records. Steinmeyer’s and Biggs’s travels were documented in The Diapason by Anton Warde (“E. Power Biggs in Mozart Country,” July–October 2006). 

In 1953 he met his wife Hanne at an American School in Nurnberg, and they married in 1954. In 1955 they immigrated to the United States with their first daughter Charlotte and settled in Brattleboro, heading up the pipe organ division of the Estey Organ Company. After the closure of the Estey Organ Company, his love for Vermont kept him in Brattleboro. He worked as a Fuller Brush man, in life insurance, and eventually for the School for International Training in 1964. While working, he earned a master’s degree in education administration in 1974 from the University of Massachusetts, despite never having completed college. In 1974 he began working at Amherst High School, first as an assistant principal and then as German teacher and department chair for foreign languages at the Junior/Senior High School, retiring in 1992. 

Steinmeyer was an active board member and president of both the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Association of Teachers of German as well as the Massachusetts Association of Foreign Language Teachers; in 2000 he was honored as Massachusetts German Educator of the Year. In 1975 in Amherst, Massachusetts, he initiated an exchange program with a college preparatory high school in Germany, in which both Amherst and Brattleboro High School Students participated; the program continues to this day.

He was a strong supporter in many ways of the Brattleboro Music Center, a consultant for the School for International Training language proficiency testing, and served on the board of the Vermont Arts Council, the Brattleboro Music Center, and the New England Bach Festival. He was also a charter member of the Estey Organ Museum and a member of the Speakers Bureau of the Vermont Humanities Council and the Organ Historical Society. Steinmeyer made a personal appearance during the Vermont Convention in 2013, where he was recognized publicly. 

Georg Steinmeyer had a love of traveling, adventure, and learning about other cultures. He traveled extensively throughout the United States and Europe, and also to Japan, the People’s Republic of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. He enjoyed the outdoors, especially cross country skiing and kayaking, and loved photography and classical and organ music. 

Georg Friedrich Steinmeyer was predeceased by his wife of 60 years, Hanne, in 2015 and a daughter, Charlotte, in 1971; he is survived by a daughter, Elisabeth Luke, and her husband John of Shorewood, Minnesota, and three grandsons, Tanner, Keaton, and Justin. Donations may be made to the Brattleboro Music Center, 38 Walnut St., Brattleboro, Vermont 05301.