Phares L. Steiner dead at 85

January 20, 2014

Phares L. Steiner died in Louisville, Kentucky, on September 14, 2013 at age 85. Born in Lima, Ohio, Steiner earned a bachelor’s degree in organ at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, and a master’s degree in organ performance at the University of Michigan in 1952, where he studied with Robert Noehren and where he began his career as an organ builder, at first working with Noehren. In 1953 with Noehren as consultant, Steiner designed the prototype of an electric-action slider chest. After service in the Army he worked with Fouser Associates in Birmingham, Michigan from 1955 to 1957. He established Steiner Organs Inc. in 1959 in Cincinnati, Ohio, and in 1962 relocated to Louisville, where he was joined in 1966 by Gottfried Reck from Kleuker in Germany. They incorporated in 1968 as Steiner Reck Inc.; Steiner was responsible for tonal matters of more than 90 organs, many of which were mechanical action.

After retiring from Steiner Reck in 1988, he continued pipe organ work on a freelance basis, including working at Webber & Borne Organ Builders, and R.A. Daffer in the Washington, D.C. area while living in Columbia, Maryland. Phares Steiner returned to Louisville in 2003 with his family, where they became members of the Cathedral of the Assumption, home to one of his largest instruments. 

A charter member of the American Institute of Organbuilders, Steiner was also an active member of APOBA at Steiner Reck and a member of Phi Mu Alpha music fraternity. He also served as organist at several churches, including St. Louis Catholic Church in Clarkesville, Maryland, and Trinity Catholic Church, Louisville.

Phares L. Steiner is survived by his wife Ellen Heineman Steiner, daughter Adrienne, son Paul, and brother, Donald F. Steiner M.D.