Rudolf von Beckerath (1907-1976)
Rudolf von Beckerath was acknowledged by authorities the world over as one of the leaders in the organ-building industry. Through his work in the post World War II years he revived Hamburg as a center of this craft, and his influence and prestige spread throughout Europe and North America. His first organ in North America was a 45-stop, four-manual instrument created for Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Cleveland in 1957, the first modern organ with mechanical action of such proportions on this continent. His second installation in the United States was a three-manual organ of 37 stops for Stetson University in 1961.
Mr. Beckerath was an organ craftsman for fifty-three years before his untimely death in 1976. He spent his early apprentice years with the workshops of Frobenius in Denmark and Gonzalez in Paris before establishing his own workshop in Hamburg in 1945. In addition to building new organs he also restored several famous seventeenth and eighteenth century organs built by such historic builders as Arp Schnitger. He declared that the direct inspiration for his tonal concepts came from these builders.
When the Stetson organ was completed in the Hamburg shop it was packed in fifty-four large crates and placed on shipboard for the journey to DeLand. Three young men from the Beckerath staff, all under thirty years of age, flew to Florida to assemble the organ in Elizabeth Hall. Mr. Beckerath came to DeLand after the assembly was completed to perform the voicing of the 2,548 pipes in the instrument.