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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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SCHAEFER, Oscar W. (Dubuque, IA, Apr. 15, 1874--Clearfield, PA, 1930). Schaefer's father came to the United States from Germany where he had worked as a frescoer to the royal court. His mother, a Von Enden, came from a titled family prominent in Germany into the 1930s. (1)

As a student in Dubuque schools, Schaefer showed great musical talent. At the age of nineteen, he accepted the position of orchestra director for a traveling opera company. Schaefer was student of music in Chicago until the age of twenty-six and then traveled to Germany to continue his violin and musical studies. He graduated from the prestigious Liepizig Conservatory four years later. Schaefer continued into post-graduate work for a fifth year and traveled during the summer.(2)

After completing his studies, Schaefer was chosen as the concert master of the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Liepizig, an appointment rarely given a foreign student. During his stay in Germany, he performed with several leading string quartets and studied violin with Alexander Sebald, one of the continent's most prestigious instructors. Prior to returning to the United States, Schaefer served as the guest conductor with several regimental bands in France. (3)

His return to the United States led to his selection as concert master of the Savage Grand Opera Company of New York. He later held positions in a number of theaters including three years as the director in Dubuque of the GRAND THEATRE orchestra from 1909 to 1912. During this time, new amusement policy for UNION PARK was announced in 1910. Evenings would no longer be devoted to the presentation, by the Park Players, of one play. The Players instead would be seen in a series of one-act comedies. Entertainment would also be provided by Guerrero and Carmen, the "Violinist and Harpist" and the orchestra of Oscar W. Schaefer which, in addition to providing music in the theater, would give an open air concert in the Rustic Stand every evening. (4)

Schaeger moved from Dubuque to Peoria. After three years, he moved again to Galesburg and then in 1917 to Clearfield, Pennsylvania where he lived the remainder of his life. (5)



1. "Won Prominence in Musical World," Telegraph-Herald and Times Journal, December 28, 1930, p. 3

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

4. New Amusement Policy at the Park," Telegraph Herald, July 3, 1910, p. 5. Online: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=BW9CAAAAIBAJ&sjid=86oMAAAAIBAJ&pg=5533,8254906&dq=union+park+dubuque&hl=en

5. "Won Prominence..."