Richard Hageman was a musician’s musician. He was a child prodigy who performed as a concert pianist by the age of six in his native the Netherlands. During the remainder of his musical career he was a pianist, conductor, composer, songwriter, music educator and the occasional actor. As a young man he was an accompanist for vocalists with the Amsterdam Royal Opera Company, and he became one of the Opera Company’s conductors in 1899, when he was only 18 years old.
Hageman studied music at the Brussels Conservatory of Music from which he received a Doctorate of Music degree. He also studied at the Royal Conservatory of Amsterdam. And to top it of his studies at both conservatories were paid for by scholarships. So at a very young age he had reached the pinnacle in the musical field in his native country.
So it was not surprising that shortly after reaching the acme of his career in the Netherlands, he began to look for opportunities elsewhere. And that opportunity occurred at some point in time between 1901 and 1906, when he accompanied the famous French cabaret singer, Yvette Guibert [1865-1944], as a pianist, on a tour through the United States. He apparently enjoyed the tour very much traveling across the country. During his stay in the United States he saw numerous opportunities for his musical career, and not surprisingly decided to stay in the United States. And after the five year waiting period, Hageman became an American citizen.
Only a few years following his arrival in the United States, in 1908, Hageman was appointed to be the assistant conductor of the Metropolitan Opera. And six years later, in 1914, he became the Metropolitan Opera conductor, a position he would hold until 1932. During his tenure at the Metropolitan Opera, among other responsibilities, he conducted the Metropolitan’s Sunday night concerts for eight years.
In 1932, Hageman became the head of the Curtis Institute of Music, a position he held until 1936. During the time period he was at the Metropolitan Opera and the Curtis Institute of Music, he also was music director of the Chicago Civic Opera, and the Ravinia Park Opera.
During his conducting period, Hageman also guest conducted the Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles symphony orchestras. He was also active as a guest conductor during the summer seasons, conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra for four summers, and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra for six summers.
Probably while he was guest conducting in the Los Angeles area, Hageman became enchanted with Hollywood, and he decided to try to apply his music composing skills to the motion picture industry. His first film score was for a John Ford directed film named “Stage Coach”, released in 1939. The film was a huge success, and the film’s musical score received an Oscar from the Academy Awards Organization, an award shared by Hageman.
Hageman would continue to write musical scores for five more John Ford directed films consisting of “The Long Voyage home “ in 1940, “Fort Apache” in 1948, “Three Godfathers” also in 1948, “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon” in 1949, and “Wagon Master” in 1950. Hageman also had minor roles in eleven motion pictures, with the major role as opera conductor in the “Great Caruso”.
Hageman also composed music for stage plays, orchestra and chamber groups. But his major interest was in music for art songs and oratorio. During his entire musical career, he composed the music for as many as 65 art songs and oratorio. His major contribution was probably for the well known art song, “Do Not Go My Love”, composed in 1917.
Richard Hageman was born on July 9, 1881 in Leeuwarden, the capital of the province of Friesland in the Netherlands. His parents were Maurits Hageman of Zutphen in the province of Gelderland, and his mother was Hester Westerhoven of Amsterdam. Why the family lived in Leeuwarden, when Hageman was born, is not known.
Hageman had a long and productive life. He passed away in Beverley Hills, California on March 6, 1966 at the age of 84. He had begun his musical career in Europe, but was most productive after he came to the United States, probably because of the many opportunities that presented themselves.
“FIFTEEN PROMINENT DUTCH AMERICAN FAMILIES: THE VAN BURENS, KOCH BROTHERS, VOORHEES AND OTHERS, 2015.
“PROMINENT DUTCH AMERICANS IN U.S. GOVERNMENT LEADERSHIP POSITIONS, 2015.
Helpful sources for information for this biographical profile were the Wikipedia web site and the “imdb” web site.
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FIFTEEN PROMINENT DUTCH AMERICAN FAMILIES: THE VAN BURENS, KOCH BROTHERS, VOORHEES AND OTHERS, 2015
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FRENCH REVOLUTION, NAPOLEON AND RUSSIAN WAR OF 1812, 2015