Racine’s musical history for the past forty-five years could be written in the biography of Henry Schulte. No other name has been so closely allied with all the various musical undertakings during this period, nor is it likely that any one man has done more for the development of musical interest and knowledge in the city.
He was born in Racine, August 4, 1858, his parents being Theodore and Fredericka Schulte, both of whom were born in Germany and came to this country in 1847. The father was a cabinet maker, having learned this trade in his native country. He continued in. this work for twelve years after coming to Racine, when he entered the employ of the Case Threshing Machine Company, with which concern he continued uninterruptedly until his retirement from active life. He died in 1878, while his wife survived until 1910.
Henry Schulte received his early education in Racine and soon showed a marked talent for music. His parents wisely encouraged this talent, and he was placed under the best teachers available in Racine and Milwaukee. At an early age he became a member of the old German orchestra, Racine’s only musical organization at that time, and when he was twenty-two years of age he began devoting his entire time to music, both as a teacher and in band and orchestra work.
Adolph Schulte, an older brother, organized the Schulte Band in 1876, and Henry, Theodore, Frank, and Joseph Schulte all became members at its inception. After four years, Adolph Schulte left Racine, and Henry was chosen director in his place. Under his leadership the Schulte Band and Orchestra has grown and improved steadily for the past forty years. It is the only Racine musical organization which has enjoyed an uninterrupted existence during this period and is today ranked as one of the best musical organizations in the middle west. During these years there have been a great many fine concerts given and arranged by the band and orchestra, and Racine people were given the opportunity of hearing many fine artists from larger cities as soloists at these concerts. The success of the fine programs given and the continued life of the organization have been due in large part to the tireless activities of Henry Schulte.
It was Mr. Schulte who organized the first theatre orchestra in Racine, when the Blake Opera House was built. He has also been active as a choral director and has for thirty-six years directed the St. Mary’s church choir. Several of Mr. Schulte’s original compositions have become very popular, particularly the Homecoming March, which was dedicated to the first Racine Homecoming, and the Company F March, which he wrote for Racine’s Company F at the time of the Spanish-American war.
Mr. Schulte was married in 1882 to Miss Theresa Schneider, an accomplished pianist, and built a fine home at 1234 Park Avenue. They have a family of four children: Karl, who is regarded as one or the best violinists in Wisconsin; Frederick, who is also successfully following the musical profession as a pianist; Marie; and Robert. The two eldest sons are also associated with their father in the band and orchestra.
In his political views Mr. Schulte maintains a non-partisan attitude, and was elected on a non-partisan ticket as supervisor from the third ward. This position came to him unsolicited, and he is now serving for the second term. He and his family are members of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, and he is prominent in German societies, and is also a member of leading fraternal and social organizations. His high standing in musical circles is further indicated by the fact that he has been chosen fifteen times as delegate to represent the local musicians at the conventions of the American Federation of Musicians. He is today enjoying excellent health and is as active as ever in his chosen work. His activities as a teacher and bandmaster have certainly contributed greatly to the musical advancement of Racine, and he is accorded high honor as the dean of Racine musicians.