ebook  History of Watertown, Wisconsin


Prof. Richard Hardege

Hardege, Richard, b. Sept 1, 1853, d. Jan 12, 1922, Prof. Musician & composer

Hardege, Richard, 1913, 103 E Main, music teacher


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PROFESSOR OF MUSIC at North Western University

1893 Watertown City Directory




The annual Thanksgiving Ball of the Concordia Society was held at the Opera House.  The attendance, while not large, was select, and the pleasures of the dance, enhanced by the excellent music of Hardege’s Orchestra, was zealously entered into.  At midnight luncheon was served in the lower hall.  WR







Prof. Richard Hardege

Musician and composer


1853 - 1922


Was a Noted Violinist and Teacher of Piano and Violin

Studied Music in Leipsig, Germany



The death of Prof. Richard Hardege, noted musician and musical composer and teacher of music for many years in Watertown, occurred in the family home, 408 Lincoln Street, Thursday afternoon.  Death followed an attack of pneumonia from which he had suffered but a few days, and but few of his friends were aware that his condition was serious.  Up to the time he was stricken he was in his usual health and able to attend to his musical teaching, and his death will be a shock to his many friends in Watertown and elsewhere where he was well known in musical circles.


Richard Hardege first saw the light of day at Haverstraw, N.Y., where he was born September 1, 1853 the son of the late Henry Hardege and Mrs. Louisa Hardege.  When a child of three the family removed to Watertown and with the exception of a few years spent in Columbus he has resided in Watertown every since.  Here he received his education in the public schools.  He early evinced talent for music and began the self study of the art, soon acquiring skill on the piano and later on the violin, both of which instruments he mastered.  He then went to Europe where he studied under the masters at Leipsig, Germany, remaining there more than three years, when he returned to Watertown a master of the instruments he loved so well, and opened a studio for the teaching of music which he followed the rest of his life.


He became widely known as an artist of great merit and a musical composer of considerable talent and he appeared in some of the best appointed orchestras of the country.  But he cared little for the plaudits of the world and preferred the quiet life of his studio and the teaching of his pupils.  Music was with him a passion to which his whole life was devoted and he was always the apt student.


His compositions for violin and piano were many, but few of them were published.  His compositions also included orchestra numbers and an operetta, but never allowed but one to be published as he cared little for the publicity which his cherished art would bring him.  He was heard on several occasions in Watertown and delighted his audiences who were enraptured with the melodies with which he favored them when prevailed upon to do so.


During his early career Prof. Hardege served as director of the old Concordia Society, and the Harmony Singing Society and was also director of the musical department of the Turner Society.


Mr. Hardege was possessed of a fine character and was endowed with many fine attainments.  To those who knew him best he was a friend and adviser whose friendship was of the kind that lasts.  He possessed a genial disposition which was ever in evidence when with friends and was kindhearted and charitable to a remarkable degree.  But his whole soul was wrapped up in music, which developed in the cradle and lasted until the whisper of the angel of death.


He is survived by his mother, 93 years of age and an invalid, one sister, Miss Emma Hardege, at home and two brothers, Arthur and Eugene Hardege, at home.


The funeral will take place on Sunday afternoon from the chapel of the Schmutzler Furniture Co. at 1:30 o’clock where service will be held. 


The burial will be in Oak Hill cemetery.




Compositions by a number of Watertown composers are included in the music exhibit which is now on display at the public library under the auspices of the Watertown Historical Society.


Among those represented are E. J. Brandt, Emil C. Gaebler, Otto Goeldner, Richard Hardege, John W. Keck, and William Weber. 


Of all the musicians Watertown has had, the name of Richard Hardege had probably attracted more notice than any other. His death some years ago removed a man of Genius.


Mr. Brandt some years ago wrote a sketch of Mr. Hardege and it is reprinted here:


Richard Hardege was born at Haverstraw near New York city in 1853.  When a young man he took up the study of the violin and also of the piano and spent several years in the musical atmosphere of Leipzig, Germany, during this time.  He has marked native talent as a composer and his ability as a violinist is well known.  Mr. Hardege has composed a considerable number of songs as well as compositions for instruments and in former years was sought as a solo violinist.  In later years it has been difficult or perhaps impossible to induce him to appear in public.


Mr. Julius Klauser, author of “The Septonate and the Centralization of the Tonal System”, a work on higher education in music, and of other works on music, was Mr. Hardege’s particular friend and induced him to have one of his compositions, a symphony for orchestra, in two movements, produced in Milwaukee.  It was Mr. Hardege’s thought to produce and publish his works in a musical center in Germany, but circumstances prevented this.


One or two incidents in connections with the above may be of interest: Several years ago Skovgaard (pronounced Skoogawt) the Danish violinist passed through this city stopping off for a few hours at the leading hotel.  While playing on his violin in his room there he heard an answering theme on another violin not far away.  After these answers reached his ears several times he became curious to know who it was that could follow his musical thought in this manner.  On following the sound he discovered that they originated in Mr. Hardege’s studio nearby and from this time dates the friendship of the two violinists. 


It may also be of interest to note that the initial rehearsal of the Theodore Thomas orchestra was conducted at the home of Karl Klauser the father of Julius Klauser, who also revised to Schirmer Editions of music for a long time.




In one corner of the room which was used as a music room by the Richards family will be the adjustable brass lamp with an especially designed stand of brass and marble which was given by the faculty of Northwestern College to Prof. Richard Hardege, a violin virtuoso and composer here.  It was used by him at his home at 408 Lincoln Street and will be remembered by many of his pupils.



08 09       UNMARKED GRAVE

The Watertown Historical Society held a meeting of the board of directors at the Octagon House last night.  A committee was named to check into circumstances for a marker on the grave of Prof. Richard Hardege in Oak Hill cemetery.


Prof. Hardege, who died many years ago, was an outstanding musical talent here and his grave to this date has not been marked with a stone or monument, although at one time, shortly after his death, the Euterpe Club had expressed a wish that something be done along that line to honor a Watertown genius.   WDT





Following from Watertown Remembered, by Elmer Kiessling, 1976.


E. C. Gaebler's successor as Mr. Music of Watertown was Richard Hardege, a graduate of the Leipzig Conservatory.  A violin concert he gave on his return home in May, 1876, received this accolade in the Watertown Republican:


Last Friday evening Turner Hall was filled with one of the largest and most, appreciative audiences ever assembled in Watertown to greet a young violinist, Mr. Richard Hardege, and bear testimonial to his merits and ability as a musician.


He was equally proficient as a pianist, teacher and conductor. His orchestras sometimes furnished music for the prestigious "socials" of Watertown's most famous dancing master, Paul Thom.  Hardege was rather shy and absent-minded.  He was the man who allegedly left the train without his bride on their honeymoon.  Someone composed this couplet on him:


Richard ja stets sehr puenktlich ist,

Wenn er die Stunde nicht vergisst.


(Richard is punctual and never late,

Except when he forgets the date.)


Well known is the anecdote about Hardege and the Danish concert violinist Skovgaard.  The latter happened to be on a concert tour and was practicing in a Watertown hotel room when he heard an answering theme played on a violin not far away.  After several responses of this kind, Skovgaard determined to look for the invisible fiddler.  His search led him to Hardege's studio, which was then located downtown.  The two men became friends.


In his later years Hardege taught his pupils in a simple room in his home on Lincoln Street.  Though he was usually dressed in frayed clothes, there was something striking about the old master, and a violin lesson with him was always a moving experience.  He had the custom of playing completely through a difficult exercise in his brilliant way to show a less than brilliant student how it should be done.  He once confided that his two best violin pupils had been the late Frank Bramer and Hugo Anhalt of Jefferson, a longtime professor of music at Milwaukee Normal, now the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  Frank Bramer and his wife Edna were a violin-piano duo that provided the music for countless local affairs.  Hardege had composed two songs, and there was a widespread belief that he had stacks of other compositions hidden somewhere among his belongings, but nothing was found after his death in the 1920s.



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Cross reference:

c.1900:  Gust Bach “Babe Bach” Band Leader  /  Tie to Prof. Richard Hardege





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History of Watertown, Wisconsin