The Richard Hageman Society


Hageman was born on 9 July 1881 in Leeuwarden, Friesland, Netherlands. He was the son of Maurits Hageman of Zutphen and Hester Westerhoven of Amsterdam. A child prodigy, he was a concert pianist by the age of six. He studied in Brussels and Amsterdam. He was an accompanist for singers and a repetiteur at the Netherlands Opera in Amsterdam. In 1899 he became a assistant conductor of this company and by 1903 he was the principal conductor. He was an accompanist in the studio of the famous teacher Mathilde Marchesi in Paris from 1905-1906. He travelled to the United States in 1906 to accompany Yvette Guilbert on a national tour. After the tour he stayed in the USA and eventually became an American citizen.

He was a conductor and pianist for the Metropolitan Opera between 1908 and 1922, and again from 1935-1937.  He was the music director of the Chicago Civic Opera in the early 1920s as well as conductor at the Ravinia Park Opera for seven years. He was a guest director of orchestras including the Chicago, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles symphony orchestras. He conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra summer concerts for four years, and from 1938-1943 he conducted at the Hollywood Bowl summer concerts.

He is known to the film community for his work as an actor and film score composer, most notably for his work on several John Ford films from the late 1930s to the 1940s. He shared an Academy Award for his score to Ford’s 1939 western Stagecoach. He acted in minor roles in eleven movies, including The Toast of New Orleans and The Great Caruso. He became a member of ASCAP in 1950.

Hageman composed more concert and stage music as well. His 1931 opera Caponsacchi, first performed in Freiburg in 1932 with the title Tragödie in Arezzo, was staged at the Metropolitan Opera in 1937 with Mario Chamlee in the title role, Helen Jepson as the heroine Pompilia and Lawrence Tibbett as the protagonist Guido. His concert drama The Crucible was performed in Los Angeles in 1943. Until recently Hageman’s compositions were rarely heard with the exception of one of his art songs entitled “Do Not Go, My Love”, a setting of a Rabindranath Tagore poem.  In recent years an increase in scholarship into the life and work of this multi-talented artist has lead to performances of his works across Europe and America.

He was a National Patron of Delta Omicron, an international professional music fraternity and retired at the age of 80 in 1961. He died of heart failure, on 6 March 1966, aged 84, in Beverley Hills.

Current RHS Projects

A Commemorative Plaque

Fifty years ago on 6 March 2016 Richard Hageman died of heart failure in his house in Beverly Hills, Ca.

To commemorate this, Nico de Villiers presented a lecture on Hageman and his family in Leeuwarden, Friesland, the Netherlands.

In collaboration with the Historical Centre Leeuwarden, et al. Nico de Villiers (Richard Hageman Society) and Alderman for Culture Sjoerd Feitsma unveiled a commemorative plaque outside Richard Hageman’s birth place on Sint Jacobsstraat 35, Leeuwarden.

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