Steinfeldt, John Mathias (1864–1946)

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: May 4, 2016

John Mathias Steinfeldt, musician, composer, and teacher, was born in the village of Ankum, near Hanover, Germany, on August 18, 1864. He was the son of Sophia (Zimmerman) and Henry Steinfeldt. When he was ten his family immigrated to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he attended public schools. He received an art scholarship to the Cincinnati School of Design, studied piano and harmony in the College of Music in Cincinnati, and attended Dayton College in Dayton, Ohio. He also studied music in New York with Rafael Joseffy and in Paris with Isidore Philipp.

Steinfeldt moved to San Antonio about 1887, became assistant organist at San Fernando Cathedral, and was organist at the Jewish Temple Beth-El and the First Baptist Church. A few years after his arrival, he became organist at St. Mary's Catholic Church, a position he held for more than fifty years. In 1920 he founded the San Antonio College of Music, where he taught piano and pipe organ; he also held classes in Eagle Pass and Laredo. He appeared several times as a soloist with the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony. Among his compositions were a number of concert pieces, The Song of the River (a chorus for women's voices), and Missa Maria Immaculata or Mass in G, the dedication Mass for the new St. Mary's Church.

Steinfeldt was awarded a prize by the Texas Federation of Music Clubs for his San Antonio-inspired composition La Concepción. In 1943 he received an Apostolic Benediction, a blessing from Pope Pius XII for his fifty years of service as the organist of St. Mary's Catholic Church . He was married to Vivia May Ripley on July 10, 1893, in San Antonio. They were the parents of four children. Steinfeldt was a Catholic and member of the Knights of Columbus. Steinfeldt died on February 28, 1946; a requiem Mass was offered for him at St. Mary's Catholic Church, San Antonio.

Ellis A. Davis and Edwin H. Grobe, comps., The New Encyclopedia of Texas (4 vols., 1929?). John M. Steinfeldt Family Papers, 1819-–1993, MS 35, University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries Special Collections, San Antonio. San Antonio Evening News, March 1, 1946. San Antonio Express, March 1, 1946. St. Mary's Church Bulletin, San Antonio, September 1924. Who's Who Among the Women of San Antonio and Southwest Texas (San Antonio: Fenwick, 1917).


  • Education
  • Educators
  • Music and Drama
  • Music
  • Genres (Classical)
  • Peoples
  • Germans

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Anonymous, “Steinfeldt, John Mathias,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed December 04, 2021,

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May 4, 2016

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