History of the Liturgical Music in Philadelphia

Mr. Richard Zeckwer

Mr. Richard Zeckwer  1850 – 1922

photo richard carl wolfgang zeckwer

Organist and Choirmaster

Years of Service: 1878 – 1880







  • He was born in Stendal, Prussia, on April 20, 1850 and studied music in Leipzig.
  • He was one of the leading music educators of his time.
  •  In 1870, along with three other musicians, opened the Philadelphia Music Academy, which later became the Zeckwer-Hahn Academy. In 1894, the 25th season, there were 1,129 pupils enrolled in the academy.
      February 14, 1878, the Cathedral Choir and the Seminary Choir, under the direction of Mr. Zeckwer, provided the music for the local commemoration of the death of Pope Pius IX. Ohne Wald’s Requium Mass was sung and the Funeral March by Beethoven and the Funeral March by Chopin were the processionals played by Professor Zeckwer on the organ.    Zeckwer_Pope_Pius_requiem_Mass_article_in_the_Times_feb_14_1878

      Christmas, 1877 article in the Philadelphia Times of Mr. Zeckwer’s Christ Music at the Cathedral
    Easter Sunday, April 20, 1878, he did Beethoven’s Mass in C, Mendelssohn’s First March, Abbe Vogler’s Veni Sancte and Hummel’s Alma Virgo; apparently not making many changes to the repertoire in his inaugural year as organist and choirmaster.

  • He solicited three bids to repair the Cathedral Standbridge organ – Roosevelt, Hook & Hastings, and Knauf. The rector, Father Elcock, chose the local organ builder to repair the organ against the advice of Mr. Zeckwer. After a plea to Archbishop Wood to reverse the decision failed, Mr. Zeckwer resigned his position in July of 1880.

Zeckwer to Archbishop Wood over organ bids

  • Mrs. McSorley became the interim organist for the remainder of 1880.
  • He was an officer of the Music Educators National Conference.
  • He died December 30, 1922.
    …..from the Georgia Catholic Newspaper, January 10, 1923
    zeckwer death notice georgia catholic newspaper january 10 1923