Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Edward Macdowell (1860-1908)

Sierra Club


American musical composer, was born in New York City on the 18th of December 1861. His father, an Irishman of Belfast, had emigrated to America shortly before the boy's birth. He had a varied education in music, first under Spanish-American teachers, and then in Europe, at Paris (Debussy being a fellow pupil), Stuttgart, Wiesbaden and Weimar, where he was chiefly influenced by Joachim, Raff and Liszt. From 1879 to 1887 he lived in Germany, teaching and studying, and also appearing as solo pianist at important concerts. In 1884 he married Marian Nevins, of New York. In 1888 he returned to America, and settled in Boston till in 1896 he was made professor of music at Columbia University, New York. He resigned this post in 1904, and in 1905 overwork and insomnia resulted in a complete cerebral collapse. He died on the 24th of January 1908. MacDowell's work gives him perhaps the highest place among American composers. Deeply influenced by modern French models and by German romanticism, full of poetry and "atmosphere," and founded on the "programme, idea of composition, it is essentially creative in the spirit of a searcher after delicate truths of artistic expression. His employment of touches of American folk-song, suggested by Indian themes, is, characteristic. This is notably the case with his orchestral Indian Suite (1896) and Woodland Sketches for the piano. His first concerto, in A minor, for piano and orchestra, and first pianoforte suite, were performed at Weimar in 1882. His works include orchestral suites and "poems," songs, choruses, and various pieces for pianoforte, his own instrument; they are numbered from op. 9 to op. 62, his first eight numbered works being destroyed by him. [Adapted from Encyclopedia Britannica (1911)]


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