Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Ludwig D'Hage (1863–1960)

by Lorna L. McDonald

This article was published:

Ludwig D'Hage (1863-1960), musician, was born on 7 May 1863 at Schluckenau, Bohemia, son of Ludwig D'Hage, a Pole 'of independent means', and his Bohemian wife Helena, née Sedlicz. Educated in Vienna, he studied violin and piano at the conservatorium of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Wien in 1877-80, but left suddenly in March 1880 without taking a degree, probably because of family quarrels. He arrived in Melbourne in October as a member of Wildner's Strauss Austrian Band, imported for the International Exhibition. When the band broke up in Sydney, he worked there for a time, then went to Rockhampton, Queensland, in 1885 to teach music under the name Louis D. Hage.

In February 1887 D'Hage made his debut as conductor of the Rockhampton Philharmonic Society and next year took over the Orpheus Club Orchestra. In twenty-five years he made it Queensland's best orchestra though he never had more than twenty-two players. They included his pupils Ernest N. Symons, a flautist acclaimed by John Lemmone, and the pianist Molly Hourigan who later distinguished herself at the Brussels Conservatoire. D'Hage's pupils won outstanding results in Royal Academy examinations and sometimes surpassed the honours won in Brisbane. Alma Moodie, a child prodigy from Mount Morgan, was discovered by him and kept in touch with him after she had won success in Europe.

When in 1910 several members of the Orpheus Club Orchestra took professional theatre engagements, D'Hage refused to conduct the remnant. He moved to Sydney in 1912 and began taking work in various professional groups, including Cyril Monk's Austral String Quartet and the new Conservatorium Orchestra. During World War I, he was deemed an enemy alien and his plans to go to the United States of America were thwarted. He applied for naturalization in 1916 but was refused. A second application in 1920 was deferred despite support from Thomas Ryan and George Curtis. He was finally naturalized in January 1922.

In Rockhampton in 1921 D'Hage gave a second farewell concert, a performance of six violin sonatas which packed the 1500 seats of the Theatre Royal. He failed to find an appropriate place in the Sydney musical establishment and made his living entirely by private teaching. D'Hage had married Isobel Annie Redman (1861-1917) in Sydney on 14 October 1881. They had a daughter and a son, and the marriage broke down. On 9 February 1918 at Mosman Registry office, he married Mary Eleanor Humble; they had two daughters and a son. After breaking his leg in an accident when he was 96, he died on 22 April 1960 and was cremated.

Select Bibliography

  • B. and F. Mackenzie, Singers of Australia (Melb, 1967)
  • Australasian (Melbourne), 9 Oct 1880
  • Sydney Mail, 29 Jan, 9, 16 Apr 1881
  • Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton), 5 Feb 1887, 6, 14 Oct 1897, 26 June 1907, 10 Aug 1908, 17 Mar, 8 Aug 1910, 6 Sept 1918, 6 Aug 1920, 27 July 1921, 13 Mar 1929, 26 Aug 1955, 29 Apr 1960
  • Ballard collection of Rockhampton theatre programmes (Rockhampton and District Historical Society)
  • A120/6178, 21/21390 (National Archives of Australia).

Citation details

Lorna L. McDonald, 'D'Hage, Ludwig (1863–1960)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1981, accessed online 18 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, (Melbourne University Press), 1981

View the front pages for Volume 8

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Hage, Louis D.

7 May, 1863
Schluckenau, Bohemia, Czech Republic


22 April, 1960 (aged 96)

Cultural Heritage

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