Jude Mollenhauer passed away at her home in Vienna, Virginia on Friday, January 19, after a brief illness.
Jude was born in Quincy, Ill., a small town on the Mississippi River, to Jessie and G. Louis Mollenhauer on December 16, 1939. She began piano lessons at an early age. Her piano teacher also taught harp and started Jude on that instrument, too, at age 9. In high school, Jude traveled to Camden, Maine during summer breaks to study with eminent harpist Carlos Salzedo. She and her mom would take a room for the summer, where Jude practiced for five or six hours a day, and walk a few blocks to Salzedo’s oceanfront house twice a week for a 45-minute lesson. Jude became one of Salzedo’s best students. At 17, at his encouragement, she auditioned for the Angelaires, a professional group, and became its youngest of five harpists, touring the U. S., Canada and Mexico. She attended the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia on a full scholarship. Upon graduating with a bachelor’s degree, she joined the Icelandic National Symphony and took her then-one-year-old daughter, also named Jude, to Reykjavik. She returned to Philadelphia to become principal harpist of the Chamber Symphony, the Grand Opera and the Lyric Opera. She also performed regularly as a soloist with the Pennsylvania Ballet Orchestra and in numerous recitals at Carnegie Hall and at various music festivals. For several summers, she took daughters Jude and Jennifer on long road trips to Wyoming for the Grand Teton Festival.
After playing as Principal Harpist of the Cincinnati Orchestra for a year, in 1985 she moved to the Columbus Symphony Orchestra as Principal Harpist, where she remained for 32 years until retirement in 2018. She appeared as a featured soloist with many orchestras, but one of her favorites was a trip to the Second Shenyang International Music Festival in China, where she played along with her colleague and friend, Yan Ni. Jude has also recorded four CDs.
Jude was a consummate performer but equally committed to teaching. In Columbus, she and her friend Candace Mazur Darman organized a week-long summer camp where students of elementary and middle school ages would put on a play, complete with costumes and harp accompaniment. (On at least one year, they had nine harps.) One or two of Jude’s high-school age students usually served as camp counselors. Although Jude keenly felt a responsibility to help teach the next generation of harpists, she did not measure her students’ success in purely musical terms. Her lessons, scheduled for 45 minutes, typically ran twice as long to make time for talking about performance anxiety, mental health issues, personal troubles, and anything else that might be on a young person’s mind. She helped many students through difficult times, serving as role model, mentor, “hero,” “other mom,” and “therapist” (in their words). Many of her private students went on to distinguished musical careers as performers and educators. Jude was equally proud of those who took other paths and enriched their lives with music.
Jude held a master of arts degree from University of Pennsylvania. She served on the faculties of several schools, including Otterbein University and Capital University, where she taught until her death. For more than 14 years, she performed for patients at The James Cancer Hospital as a volunteer. She also donated her time to the American Harp Society, the Shepherd’s Center of Northern Virginia and many other organizations. She also served as a judge for many international and regional competitions.
Jude is survived by two daughters, Jude Webster Guterl of Bloomfield, N.J., and Jennifer Webster Schickram of Delaware, Ohio; her husband of 13 years, Rich Duesterhaus of Vienna, Va.; sons-in-law Fred Guterl of Bloomfield and Hanno Schickram of Delaware; grandchildren Sophie Guterl of Minneapolis, Minn., Benjamin Guterl of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Nik Schickram of Columbus, Ohio; niece Christine Wirth and her husband Don of Naperville, Ill., and their daughter Deanne Wirth Fulmer and her husband, Austin Fulmer of North Augusta, S.C.; and cousins in Iowa, Mass., and R.I. She was preceded in death by her parents; her brother William Mollenhauer and his first wife Dorothy and second wife, Annette, of Quincy; nephew George Mollenhauer of Naperville; and her first husband William E. Webster of Columbus.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks those wishing to honor her memory to send donations to the American Harp Society, https://www.harpsociety.org/ the National Conservation Foundation, https://www.nationalconservationfoundation.org/ the Shepherd’s Center of Northern Virginia https://scnova.org/ or another charity of their choice.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held Friday February 9th 11 AM at Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church, Vienna, VA 22182. A visitation at Money and King Funeral home 171 Maple Ave. W., Vienna, VA 22180 will be held Thursday evening February 8th from 6:00-8 P.M. A Celebration of Life ceremony will be held in Columbus, OH, later this Spring.