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Kinzig’s family ties stretch back to early 1900s

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Madelon Kinzig
Madelon Kinzig is part of a musical heritage that stretches back a century. (Courtesy Photo)

By John Stegeman
The Catholic Telegraph 

Since nearly 1900, there has been an Eifert providing music for Catholic parishes in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. 

Stretching back to patriarch, Aloys Eifert, who began playing organ and teaching in Catholic schools in the early 1900s, is a nearly unbroken lineage of musical talent.

Aloys’ son, Eugene, helped pump the bellows in those early organs. He went on to direct music at St. Mary’s in Dayton beginning in 1930. After a break for World War II, Eugene returned to church music at Holy Family in 1946, until his retirement. Eugene passed away in 1995. During that time, he also spent time serving at Corpus Christi, sometimes causing scheduling conflicts.

The conflicting schedules played a part in the music ministry of the lone Eifert still serving as a full-time music director  –  Madelon Kinzig.

Kinzig is Eugene’s daughter and from an early age loved piano and organ. She played her first Mass at age 16 and soon after was playing three morning Masses a day at Corpus Christi. There were times she would have to start a Mass, and her father would come to relieve her. At least once early on he didn’t make it, and she had to play a song without the sheet music.

“My father really had this in mind that I’d be a church musician,” she said. “I was resisting the whole idea of it and taught in public school for seven years then started my family. In the meantime I was always involved and in his choir and would fill in for weddings.”

When her father retired in 1988, Madelon missed the music ministry and was offered a position at St. Anthony of Padua, where she’s served ever since.

Kinzig might be the last Eifert in full-time music ministry, but the family connections don’t stop with her. Her brother, Bob Eifert, and second cousin, Don Eifert, each sing in her choir.

The historical ties stretch further too. Her great uncle, Sylvester Eifert served as a music minister in the Diocese of Covington. A cousin of her father, Oscar Eifert, served for many years at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

With the family pedigree and the way circumstances worked out, Kinzing noted that her position in music ministry came about as a result of God’s will, not her own.

“I resisted it,” she said. “I didn’t think I wanted to be a church musician and here I am. Turns out (God) knew what he was doing, because I’ve enjoyed it.”

This article, part of a special section on pastoral music, originally appeared in the July 2014 print edition of The Catholic Telegraph.

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