During three visits (1878-82) to Europe, Lauder studied in Heidelberg, and at the Leipzig Conservatory with Robert Papperitz, E.F. Richter, and Oscar Paul (theory) and Carl Reinecke (piano). For his graduation recital he played Beethoven's Emperor Concerto, "surpassing all his fellow contestants by the sureness and correctness of his technique as well as the energy of his touch and the spiritual elevation of his interpretation. He may be considered ready for concert appearance" (Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, 30 Apr 1880).
Lauder is considered "the only Canadian who can justly claim the honour of being a pupil of Liszt" (Musical Times, 1 Apr 1885). He spent the summers of 1879 and 1881 with the master at Weimar and the winter of 1880 at the Villa d'Este. Lauder played before the pope and before royalty in Italy and Saxony and in concert halls in Rome, Frankfurt, and other cities. In Venice he played piano arrangements of Wagner's operas to the composer.
On returning to Canada, Lauder performed the Emperor Concerto with Torrington's orchestra in May 1882 and a year later, also in Toronto, he played the Schumann Andante and Variations, Opus 46 for two pianos with Teresa Carreño. He served 1883-5 as music director at Hellmuth Ladies' College, London, Ont, before moving to the USA, where he taught at Hanover College, Kalamazoo College, Eureka College, Illinois; 1887-9 at the New England Conservatory, Boston; and 1889-93 at the Cincinnati Wesleyan College and the Ohio College of Music.
Lauder was one of 19th-century Canada's finest and best known pianists and has been credited with introducing the lecture-recital to North America as a means of spreading the appreciation of classical music. By 1889 he had given some 350 such recitals in Ontario alone. A champion of Wagner and Liszt, he gave a memorial recital at the University of Toronto after Wagner's death in 1883, receiving a note of appreciation from the composer's wife, and played Liszt's Concerto No. 2 and Sonata in Boston in 1888. Like Calixa Lavallée, he was an enthusiastic promoter of US composers. As a lecturer he appeared before the Canadian Society of Musicians and the Music Teachers' National Association. His essays (publications not traced) and, presumably, his lecture topics included "The music of the first Christian era," "A critical sketch of American music," "A year of study with Liszt at Weimar," and "Facts about ancient theory."
Lauder continued to live and work in the USA, residing in the suburbs of Chicago and in Kansas City, and giving his lecture-recitals at such leading US institutions as Chicago University, Cincinnati College of Music, and Vassar College until his retirement. He also worked as a prominent critic, teacher and virtuoso in Chicago; was a special correspondent to the Musical Courier for the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago; and served as organist and choirmaster of the Central Church of Christ, Chicago. He was buried in Eureka, Illinois, in 1931. Annie Lampman Jenkins and Harry Marshall Field were among his pupils.
Author Helmut Kallmann, Lindsay Moore
"Lauder, W.," Chicago Daily Tribune, 8 Aug 1931
Mathews, W.S.B. ed. A Hundred Years of Music in America (Chicago 1889)
"Lauder, W. Waugh," The Piano in Concert, vol 1, ed George Kehler (Metuchen, NJ 1982)
Pocknell, Pauline. "Liszt and his Canadian circle," Journal of the American Liszt Society, 38, Jul-Dec 1995