This day we honor and remember the late Dr. Brett Zumsteg. We miss your smile, humor, and love already.
Brett Allan Zumsteg, passed away on April 14, 2014.
The youngest of four sons, Brett was born on December 23, 1953, to Howard and Doris Zumsteg in Burlingame, California.
He developed a love of music and the organ at age eight. He followed his passion to receive multiple degrees in organ performance: a Bachelor’s from the University of Southern California, and a Master’s and Doctorate from Northwestern University. He held teaching positions at Boy’s Town in Omaha, Nebraska; Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah; and Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Michigan. He became a Fellow of the American Guild of Organists in 1986.
Brett touched many people through his musical talents, devoting his time to teaching, performing, conducting, and accompanying. For many years, he was an organist and choir director for First United Methodist Church in Park Ridge, Illinois, where he was the driving force behind the design and installation of its organ in 1996. More recently, Brett accompanied the Lake Forest College Concert Choir and directed its College and Community Chorus. Both were roles he served in with great joy and pride. His incredible talent added life and spirit to any piece of music he touched. He was particularly gifted at improvisation, with an uncanny ability to develop melodies and variations on the spot, even while carrying on a conversation with someone.
Brett worked as a senior client services analyst for the Business Information Services division of Smiths Group and John Crane, Inc. Over his 15 years there, he delighted his colleagues with his corny jokes and became a respected and loved member of the company.
Brett joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1975 and in 1976 married his former wife Julie Bevan, with whom he had two children, Emily and Benjamin. He remained a devout member of the Church for the rest of his life. It was the center of his life and he lived its teachings every day by serving others in any way he could. He served in many leadership capacities in his local congregations and recently to members of the Church stationed at the Great Lakes Naval Base. He donated his musical talents to the Church often, performing the organ not only in his congregations but most notably in Salt Lake City, Utah, in the Mormon Tabernacle, Assembly Hall, and Conference Center.
Brett and his wife Debbie have been joyfully married since October 26, 1997. They were two peas in a pod, a true team; they loved being together and sharing their home and life with others. Together, Brett and Debbie hosted holiday lunches and dinners, themed parties, and many other gatherings where they could show their love for others through their cooking and hospitality. They loved improving and decorating their home, gardening, and creating stained glass art and other decorative crafts. They also loved being in nature, particularly taking walks in nearby Independence Grove.
Brett’s numerous contributions to others are all the more appreciated due to his warm, humble, generous spirit and his wonderful sense of humor. In all walks of life, Brett was ready with a joke or pun at a moment’s notice, never hesitating to bring moments of levity to any situation, and had an infectious smile and laugh.
Brett will be dearly missed by his children, Emily (James) and Benjamin (Michael), his two granddaughters, Zoe and Eva, and innumerable family and friends.
Brett Zumsteg began his music studies on the piano in the San Francisco Bay Area. During high school he moved with his family to Long Beach, California and started to study the organ. He received his Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Southern California and his Master’s and Doctor’s degrees in Organ Performance at Northwestern University. He also studied harpsichord and composition. In 1986, Dr. Zumsteg became a Fellow of the American Guild of Organists.
Dr. Zumsteg worked at Boy’s Town in Omaha, Nebraska, where he taught piano and accompanied the Boy’s Town choir. As a member of the music faculty at BrighamYoung University, he taught Organ, Harpsichord, Music Theory, and Keyboard Harmony. Following a year at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Michigan, Dr. Zumsteg returned to the Chicago area. He was the organist and choir director at First United Methodist Church for over 10 years and was the choral accompanist for Lake Forest College from 2008 to 2014, where he also taught organ, accompanied vocal students and conducted the Lake Forest College and Community Chorus.
Dr. Zumsteg has performed in the Mormon Tabernacle, the Assembly Hall on Temple Square, and on the Conference Center organ. Although a skilled performer, Dr. Zumsteg enjoyed improvising and composing as well.
HolySheetMusic is honored to have two beautiful pieces composed by Brett: “Around the Throne of God a Band” and “Oh, How Joyfully.” We are continuing to work with his wonderful wife, Debbie, to publish his Choral and Organ works.
Here’s a link to his music: