In Memory of David Beyer

In Memory of David Beyer

David Beyer
David Beyer in the UniLu Alumni/ae Room in 2018. Photo by Chris Pollari.

The UniLu community gives thanks for the life of David N. Beyer, a longtime member and the church’s organist and music director from 1968 to 1991. He died on Saturday, July 10, 2021 at the age of 90.

David was born in Bennington, Vermont on October 14, 1930 to Hazel Scott Beyer and the Rev. Richard Beyer, a minister in the United Church of Christ. He began playing organ for churches at age 16, and took a bus from his home in Springfield, Vermont, to Boston for piano lessons at the New England Conservatory of Music while still in high school. He graduated from Harvard College in 1953 and received an Artist’s Diploma in piano from the New England Conservatory in 1960; he also studied piano in Geneva, Switzerland for several years.

Once back in Boston, he concertized regularly on piano, harpsichord, and organ in the Boston area, and taught at the Rivers School in Weston, Massachusetts for thirty-five years. David’s wide-ranging musical experiences also included performing on several concert cruises of Boston Harbor in the 1980s and appearing as the organist in the nationally distributed film version of Henry James’s The Bostonians, starring Christopher Reeve and Vanessa Redgrave, in 1984.  He added to his long list of Jordan Hall appearances when he performed Schumann’s Piano Concerto on May 3, 2015 with the Rivers Symphony Orchestra.

David’s tenure as University Lutheran Church’s organist and music director was filled with ambitious undertakings, most notably a student-led production of Godspell in March 1983, which had six performances and was seen by more than 700 people. After his departure in 1991, he continued to share his gifts with the UniLu community as substitute organist, occasional choir member, and performer in benefit concerts for the student-run Harvard Square Homeless Shelter. David often presented concerts with other musicians of UniLu. “Rehearsing with David revealed how much time he’d spent learning about the background story of the music, its origins, its composer, its style, and how these could inform the interpretation and performance,” recalled flutist and composer Bruce Brolsma, one of David’s frequent collaborators. “Not just a consummate performer, David was the consummate listener of music as well.”

In a 1975 Boston Globe review of David’s performance of Bach’s Goldberg Variations at University Lutheran, music critic Richard Buell described David’s playing in ways that will be familiar to UniLu listeners: “He is a quiet, subtle musician, the rare kind who invites the listener into the intimate discourse which takes place between Bach and the performer.” David also loved the music of George Gershwin, and in 2016 he joined UniLu’s Ann Ferentz (soprano) and Kevin Johnson (tenor) for a memorable evening of works by Bach and Gershwin, bringing two favorite composers together for what would be one of his last piano performances at the church.

David married Gisela Krause, also a classical musician and UniLu member, in 1995. In 2005, Gisela and David recorded Keyboard for Two, a CD of works by Mozart, Schmitt, Debussy, Corigliano, and Epstein, to benefit the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter. Composer Marti Epstein wrote the final piece, Hothouse, for Gisela and David. Gisela died a few weeks before David, on June 11, 2021 at the age of 93. See In Memory of Gisela Krause for more about Gisela.

We pray for God’s comfort for David’s nieces, Hanni Beyer Lee, Barbi Beyer, Sherry Richardson, and Carol Richardson; for his great-nephews, Casey Beyer Geist and Kyle Washburn; for his students and colleagues; for his UniLu family; and for all who mourn.

David’s memorial service will take place on Sunday, October 31, 2021 at 1 pm EDT. The service will be held in the UniLu Sanctuary and will also be available remotely over Zoom.