Edward MacDowell
by John F. Porte
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A Great American Tone Poet, His Life and Music



Author of Edward Elgar, Sir Charles V. Stanford, etc.

With a Portrait of Edward MacDowell and Musical Illustrations in the Text

New York: E.P. Dutton & Company 681 Fifth Avenue


I do like the works of the American composer MacDowell! What a musician! He is sincere and personal—what a poet—what exquisite harmonies!—Jules Massenet.

I consider MacDowell the ideally endowed composer.—Edvard Grieg.


(Published as Critical and Historical Essays).

_For it is in the nature of the spiritual part of mankind to shrink from the earth, to aspire to something higher; a bird soaring in the blue above us has something of the ethereal; we give wings to our angels. On the other hand, a serpent impresses us as something sinister. Trees, with their strange fight against all the laws of gravity, striving upward unceasingly, bring us something of hope and faith; the sight of them cheers us. A land without trees is depressing and gloomy.

In spite of the strange twistings of ultra modern music, a simple melody still embodies the same pathos for us that it did for our grandparents.

We put our guest, the poetic thought, that comes to us like a homing bird from out the mystery of the blue sky—we put this confiding stranger straightway into that iron bed, the "sonata form," or perhaps even the third rondo form, for we have quite an assortment. Should the idea survive and grow too large for the bed, and if we have learned to love it too much to cut off its feet and thus make it fit (as did that old robber of Attica), why we run the risk of having some critic wise in his theoretical knowledge, say, as was and is said of Chopin, "He is weak in sonata form!"

In art our opinions must, in all cases, rest directly on the thing under consideration and not on what is written about it. Without a thorough knowledge of music, including its history and development, and, above all, musical "sympathy," individual criticism is, of course, valueless; at the same time the acquirement of this knowledge and sympathy is not difficult, and I hope that we may yet have a public in America that shall be capable of forming its own ideas, and not be influenced by tradition, criticism, or fashion.

Every person with even the very smallest love and sympathy for art possesses ideas which are valuable to that art. From the tiniest seeds sometimes the greatest trees are grown. Why, therefore, allow these tender germs of individualism to be smothered by that flourishing, arrogant bay tree of tradition—fashion, authority, convention, etc.

No art form is so fleeting and so subject to the dictates of fashion as opera. It has always been the plaything of fashion, and suffers from its changes.

Always respectable in his forms, no one else could have made music popular among the cultured classes as could Mendelssohn. This also had its danger; for if Mendelssohn had written an opera (the lack of which was so bewailed by the Philistines), it would have taken root all over Germany, and put Wagner back many years.

Handel's great achievement (besides being a fine composer) was to crush all life out of the then promising school of English music, the foundation of which had been so well laid by Purcell, Byrd, Morley, etc._

(On Mozart). _His later symphonies and operas show us the man at his best. His piano works and early operas show the effect of the "virtuoso" style, with all its empty concessions to technical display and commonplace, ear-catching melody ... He possessed a certain simple charm of expression which, in its directness, has an element of pathos lacking in the comparatively jolly light-heartedness of Haydn.

Music can invariably heighten the poignancy of spoken words (which mean nothing in themselves), but words can but rarely, in fact I doubt whether they can ever, heighten the effect of musical declamation.

To hear and enjoy music seems sufficient to many persons, and an investigation as to the causes of this enjoyment seems to them superfluous. And yet, unless the public comes into closer touch with the tone poet than the objective state which accepts with the ears what is intended for the spirit, which hears the sounds and is deaf to their import, unless the public can separate the physical pleasure of music from its ideal significance, our art, in my opinion, cannot stand on a sound basis.

Music contains certain elements which affect the nerves of the mind and body, and thus possesses the power of direct appeal to the public—a power to a great extent denied to the other arts. This sensuous influence over the hearer is often mistaken for the aim and end of all music.... In declaring that the sensation of hearing music was pleasant to him, and that to produce that sensation was the entire mission of music, a certain English Bishop placed our art on a level with good things to eat and drink. Many colleges and universities of America consider music as a kind of boutonniere.... Low as it is, there is a possibility of building on such an estimate. Could such persons be made to recognize the existence of decidedly unpleasant music, it would be the first step toward a proper appreciation of the art and its various phases.

In my opinion, Johann Sebastian Bach, one of the world's mightiest tone poets, accomplished his mission, not by means of the contrapuntal fashion of his age, but in spite of it. The laws of canon and fugue are based upon as prosaic a foundation as those of the rondo and sonata form; I find it impossible to imagine their ever having been a spur or an incentive to poetic musical speech.

Overwhelmed by the new-found powers of suggestion in tonal tint and the riot of hitherto undreamed of orchestral combinations, we are forgetting that permanence in music depends upon melodic speech._


Owing to the high cost of book production at the present time, the use of illustrations, both musical and photographic, has been restricted in this book. It was decided only to fully illustrate the analysis of MacDowell's "Indian" Suite for Orchestra, Op. 48, this being a work less accessible to the general reader than the composer's well known pianoforte pieces.

The author gratefully acknowledges the help of:—

Mrs. MacDowell—Information and gift of MacDowell portraits, an original letter and a piece of MS. of the composer.

Mr. W.W.A. Elkin—Information and loan of scores.

Mr. Charlton Keith—Loan of D minor Pianoforte Concerto.

Messrs. J. and W. Chester, Ltd.—Information.













EDWARD ALEXANDER MACDOWELL was born in New York City, U.S.A., on December 18th, 1861, of American parents descended from a Quaker family of Scotch-Irish extraction who emigrated to America about the middle of the 18th Century. He was their third son. As a boy he studied the pianoforte with Juan Buitrago, a South American, Pablo Desvernine, a Cuban, and for a short time with the famous Venezuelan pianist, Teresa Carreno. He also indulged in childish composition on his own account. He was not a "wonderful" pupil and did not like the drudgery of practising "exercises."

When he was fourteen years of age he went to France, accompanied by his mother, to study pianoforte playing and the theory of music at the Paris Conservatoire under Marmontel and Savard respectively. Here one of his fellow students was Debussy, even then looked upon as having curious and unconventional ideas on his art.

MacDowell had also to learn the French language, and the person who taught him French discovered that the young American had a decided gift for drawing. He showed one of the boy's sketches to a teacher at the School of Fine Arts, who offered to take the boy as a pupil for three years free of charge, and to be responsible for his maintenance during that time.

With his striking imaginative powers and love of Nature, and his appreciation of Historical and Legendary lore, it is very probable that MacDowell might have become distinguished as a painter had he applied himself to painting, for he was a born artist and very fond of sketching, but he refused the offer on the advice of his music teachers, and continued his studies at the Conservatoire.

After persevering for a couple of years he grew dissatisfied with the tuition he was receiving, and upon hearing Nicholas Rubinstein play, he determined to go elsewhere.

Careful discussion with his mother resulted in their selection of Stuttgart, Germany, whither they accordingly removed, MacDowell entering the Conservatorium there. Here he was soon convinced, however, that the instruction given there was of no use to him, and after having studied under Lebert and Louis Ehlert and having been refused a hearing by Hans von Buellow, he left Stuttgart and entered the Frankfort Conservatorium, where his teachers were Raff, the Principal, for composition, and Carl Heymann for pianoforte playing. Raff was kind and encouraging to the young American, and once said to him, "Your music will be played when mine is forgotten." The influence of Raff's teaching is evident in a number of MacDowell's early compositions, especially the Forest Idyls, Op. 19, and the First Suite for Orchestra, Op. 42.

In 1881 Heyman resigned and nominated MacDowell as his successor, a proposal seconded by Raff. The gifted American, however, possessed the criminal fault, in the eyes of jealous and intolerant old men, of being young; the fact that he was quite capable of filling the vacant post was, to them, a secondary consideration, and he was rejected.

He now began to take private pupils, and among them was an American girl, Marian Nevins, who was to become his wife about three years afterwards; the Forest Idyls, Op. 19, are dedicated to her. Although he had failed to obtain the vacant professorship at Stuttgart, MacDowell was appointed head teacher of the pianoforte at the Conservatorium in the neighbouring town of Darmstadt. His work here was soul-killing in its drudgery and he soon relinquished it.

Apart from his teaching labours, MacDowell had, in the meantime, been composing steadily, and had also been appearing at local orchestral concerts as solo pianist, and in 1882 Raff sent him to Liszt armed with his First Pianoforte Concerto, Op. 15. The mighty old Hungarian praised the work highly and also seemed impressed with MacDowell's playing. He was kind to the struggling young American, eventually accepted the dedication of the concerto, and recommended the performance and publication of some of MacDowell's earlier compositions, notably the First Modern Suite, Op. 10, and the Second Modern Suite, Op. 14.

Composition now became more and more the dominating feature in the development of MacDowell's musical genius, although he was still obliged to teach for his living.

He was fortunate in being able to persuade local conductors to try over his orchestral works, a thing that was practically impossible in his own country, as he afterwards found. In June, 1884, he returned to the United States, and in the following month (July 21st) he married his former pianoforte pupil, Marian Nevins, in whom he was to find complete happiness and a devoted companion and sympathiser. In the same year Mr. and Mrs. MacDowell returned to Frankfort, after having visited England.

In 1885 MacDowell applied for a professorship at the English Royal Academy of Music, but Lady Macfarren, wife of the Principal, was instrumental in securing his rejection on account of his youth, nationality and friendship with Liszt, who, in English Victorian academic eyes, was too "modern."

In 1887 MacDowell and his wife, they having returned to Germany, bought a little cottage in the woods some distance from Wiesbaden. They were very friendly with Templeton Strong, another American composer, some of whose works have been played at the Queen's Hall Promenade Concerts in London.

In September, 1888, the MacDowells sold their German cottage and returned to their native country, electing to make their home in Boston, Mass.

MacDowell found that his European reputation and his music had preceded him to America, and he was well received on the occasion of his first concert in his native country. Most notable were his successes when he played his Second Pianoforte Concerto, in D minor (Op. 23), at important orchestral concerts in New York and Boston.

In 1889 MacDowell played his D minor concerto in Paris, where more than twelve years before he had been a student, and it was after his return from this visit to France that his fame as a pianist and composer began to spread freely in America. In 1890 his Second Symphonic Poem, Lancelot and Elaine (Op. 25), was played under Nikisch at Boston.

The year 1891 was a successful one for MacDowell, for it saw two performances of a large orchestral work, First Suite, in A minor, he had just completed; the production of his symphonic Fragments (Op. 30); and his first pianoforte recital in America.

MacDowell's prestige continued to grow steadily. He was invariably received with enthusiasm on the numerous occasions of his public appearances as a pianist, while each new composition he issued was remarkably well received by the public and the newspaper musical critics. The Boston Symphony Orchestra was especially encouraging to him, placing both his "Indian" Suite, Op. 48, and his First Concerto, in A minor, Op. 15, on the programme of one of its New York concerts. Teresa Carreno, the famous pianist from whom he had had a few lessons when a boy, played some of his music at most of her recitals. She was also instrumental, with the ready help of Sir (then Mr.) Henry J. Wood, in making MacDowell's D minor concerto known in England. The popular London Queen's Hall conductor was impressed with the work, and has ever since recommended it to budding young pianists as a concerto worth studying.

The occasion of MacDowell's performance of his D minor concerto with the Philharmonic Society of New York on December 14th, 1894, is worthy of note. He then achieved one of the most conspicuous triumphs of his career. His playing was described by Henry T. Finck, the distinguished American musical critic, as being of "that splendid kind of virtuosity which makes one forget the technique." MacDowell received a tremendous ovation such as was accorded only to a popular prima donna at the opera, or to a famous virtuoso of international reputation. The musical critics generally agreed that the fine feeling and the power of the concerto was as responsible for his remarkable success before the critical Philharmonic audience as his playing of it. The conductor was Anton Seidl.

A few months after the above event, MacDowell created a deep impression in the same city by his playing of his Sonata Tragica, Op. 45, and some smaller pieces.

In 1896 he bought some land near Peterboro, in the south of the state of New Hampshire. In addition to a music room connected by a passage with the house, he built a log cabin in the woods near by, where he could compose in the solitude that was needed for the transcribing of his dreams and inspirations into permanent music form.

In the same year (1896) it was decided to found a department of music at Columbia University, New York, and MacDowell, described by the committee formed to appoint a Professor of Music as "the greatest musical genius America has produced," was offered the distinguished, but as it proved, laborious task of organising the new department. After some hesitation he accepted the post, as it would afford him an income free from the precariousness of private teaching.

In a letter to the writer, Mrs. MacDowell says: "In taking the position of Professor of Music at Columbia University, Mr. MacDowell went into an environment quite different from anything he had ever experienced before. He had no University training, no knowledge of its methods, and brought to his work an enthusiasm and freshness which eventually meant overcrowded class rooms."

During his vacation from the University in 1902-3, he undertook a great concert tour of the United States, going as far west as San Francisco. In 1903 he visited England, and on May 14th played his D minor pianoforte concerto at a concert of the Royal Philharmonic Society in Queen's Hall, London.

In 1904 he resigned from Columbia because of a disagreement with the faculty concerning the proper position of music and the fine arts in the curriculum. His plans for a freer and greater relationship between University teaching and liberal public culture were considered impracticable and the authorities rejected them. MacDowell's attitude in the matter was criticised, misunderstood and misrepresented at the time. He was even accused of neglecting the duties of the position he held, whereas, as it afterwards transpired, he had laboured ungrudgingly at his task. It is pleasant to know that his students were among the first to uphold his character. His patience, his droll criticisms, and the illuminating quality of his teaching endeared him to all who studied under him.

MacDowell was bitterly disappointed and hurt at the unfavourable reception of his reforming plans, but until the beginning of his fatal illness shortly afterwards, he continued his teaching privately, even giving free lessons to deserving students in whose talent he had faith.

His lectures at Columbia University are preserved in permanent form under the title of Critical and Historical Essays. In a letter to the writer, Mrs. MacDowell says of the volume, "I think my husband would have felt that just such a title implies a more finished product than one finds, but after his death the demand was very great among his old students that these notes might be preserved in permanent form ... Mr. MacDowell had an extraordinary memory, and seldom had more than mere notes in delivering his lectures. Occasionally in preparing the lectures, without quite realising it, he dictated far more than he had intended, not always using this material in his class room. These Essays represent the result of what he dictated to me as he walked up and down his music room trying to crystallize his ideas; they were printed unedited. I sometimes think one reads in between the lines of these Essays a good deal of what the man was himself."

Although the time at his command was restricted, the eight years of MacDowell's Columbia professorship saw the composition of most of his finest works. For two years he was conductor of the Mendelssohn Glee Club, one of the oldest and best Male-voice choruses in the United States, and was also, for a short time, President of the Manuscript Society, an association of American composers. Princeton University and the University of Pennsylvania conferred on him the honorary degree of Doctor of Music.

In the spring of 1905, MacDowell began to suffer from nervous exhaustion. Overwork and morbid worry over disagreeable experiences, especially in connection with his resignation from Columbia, brought on insomnia. A quiet summer on his Peterboro property brought no improvement in his condition, and the eminent medical specialists who attended him soon pronounced his case to be a hopeless one of cerebral collapse. He should have rested earlier from both his crowded teaching and his composing.

Slowly, but with terrible sureness, his brainpower was beginning to crumble away and his mind became as that of a little child. Day after day he would sit near a window, turning over the pages of one of his beloved books of fairy-tales, an infinitely moving and tragic figure.

Time went by and the delicately poised intellect grew more and more dimmed, until at last he hardly recognised his dearest friends. A few months before the end his physical strength, hitherto well preserved, began to fail, until at last he sank rapidly, dying at 9 o'clock in the evening of January 23rd, 1908, at the age of forty-six, in the Westminster Hotel, New York, in the presence of his devoted wife.

A simple service was later held at St. George's Episcopal Church, and he was buried on the Sunday following his death. His grave is on an open hilltop of his Peterboro property that he loved, and is marked by a granite boulder on which is a simple bronze tablet bearing the lines inscribed at the head of one of his last pieces, From a Log Cabin (Op. 62, No. 9), an unconscious prophesy of his own tragic end:—

A house of dreams untold, It looks out over the whispering tree-tops And faces the setting sun.

The last music that MacDowell published appeared in 1902, and indicated the beginning of a new and deeper note in his creative voice. He felt, too, that he was growing away from pianoforte work and had he lived there would have been further and more representative symphonic poems and at least one symphony from his pen, three movements of the latter being among his unfinished manuscripts. He had hoped for ultimate leisure in which to compose, free from the drudgery of earning his living by teaching, and his last great concert tour was undertaken with the idea of gathering money for the realisation of his dream.

The death of MacDowell completed the blow which his failing brain-power had dealt to American music and his many sympathisers, between two and three years before. His spirit lives, however, in his music and in the wonderful MacDowell Colony at Peterboro, New Hampshire. The latter is an amazing realisation of the composer's dream of an ideal environment for creative work in Music, Art and Literature. A chapter describing the Colony will be found further on in this book. In addition to the central organisation, now known as The Edward MacDowell Association, Incorporated, there are springing up in many American cities offshoots known as MacDowell Clubs, which contribute towards the expenses of the Colony.


Macdowell's position to-day in creative musical art remains the same as it was twenty years ago—one of unassailable independence and individualism. Although these two factors, whether assailable or not, must be a feature of any composer who lays claim to greatness, in MacDowell's case they are so marked as to form the strongest bulwark of his natural position among great music makers. His tone poetry is of a quality and power that is not quite like that of any other composer, and in the portraying, or suggesting, as he preferred to call it, of Natural, Historical and Legendary subjects he stands alone. Superbly gifted as a lyrical poet both in the literary and the musical sense, and with a most refined and keen feeling for the dramatic, he spoke with a voice of singular eloquence and power. Probably his greatest achievement was his remarkable, unerring ability to create atmospheres of widely varied kinds in his music, and in this respect there is no composer quite his equal. The soft beauty, grandeur, vastness and might of Nature; the joys and sorrows of Humanity; the romance of History and imaginative Legend; the buoyancy of sunshine and wind; the mysteriousness of enchanted woods; all these he translated with inimitable vividness into music. He could suggest with as definite and unmistakable a musical atmosphere, the simple beauty of a little wild flower, as the might of the sea; as well the fanciful and imaginative scenes of fairy tale as the wild and lonely vastness of the great American prairies; as well the joviality and humour of his countrymen as the elemental strength, and rude, stern manliness of the North American Indian, and the heroic, stirring atmosphere of the ancient bards.

That MacDowell was greater than is generally recognised in England is an opinion that increasingly forces itself on all who study and become closely acquainted with his best work. He is generally admitted to be great in small, lyrical forms, but it is insufficient to regard him merely as a miniaturist. The form of the well-known Sea Pieces (Op. 55) for pianoforte is small, for example, and yet the material is big and grand enough for symphonic work. The equally well-known Woodland Sketches, Op. 51, contain pieces of charming and delicate conception, as well as broader writing, and can hardly be considered as the products of a restricted inspiration. The poetry is so unmistakably fresh and individual, and the atmosphere so vividly suggested, that the ability of the composer to condense his material into such small compass is remarkable to even the most casual observer. Far from shewing weakness, the small form of MacDowell's compositions is a proof of his strength, for few other composers have been able to suggest such big scenes, often of far-reaching and wide significance, on such small canvasses as those on which he painted his tone poems.

The outstanding reason for his preference for writing albums of short pieces (partly due, no doubt, to lack of time for more extended work) was that he loved to seize a passing impression or inspiration and to express it in music before it faded from his mind. Nearly all his small pieces are musical photographs of the fancies of an impressionable and sensitive imagination.

The criticism sometimes heard that he was only good in small forms is, however, based on a fallacy due to an imperfect acquaintance with his work and is completely shattered by the indisputable greatness of his two concertos, of his four pianoforte sonatas and of the "Indian" Suite for orchestra. The sonatas, although not all of equal value, comprise some of the finest pianoforte music in existence. They are notable for their passion, breadth of style, massive momentum, dramatic power and eloquence of expression. Admirers think them only equalled by such creations as Beethoven's Sonata Appassionata. It is curious that MacDowell's sonatas are infrequently performed, for they bring the resources of the modern pianoforte into full and sonorous play, sweeping the whole of the keyboard with their stirring expressions. It is possible that as they are not in general demand, the average virtuoso does not consider their technical difficulties worth conquering. Nay, it is even doubtful whether the pianist's mind could always rise to the heights of fervent poetry and imagination whither MacDowell was often carried and the memories of which are embodied in his finest music.

As a tone poet MacDowell has none of the sensuous emotionalism that wins popularity in the drawing room and at the musical recitals of popular pianists. He is never sentimental and his strength and passion is always finely controlled, never feverish. His music is singularly free from the emotionalisms of sex, the love-impulse with him is always noble and restrained. In all his moods there is a human spirit and some definitely suggested content, the most notable purist exceptions being the two pianoforte concertos. His tone colourings are never used densely or oppressively, but only serve to heighten the suggestiveness of the whole. He loved the pianoforte as an instrument for personal melodic and harmonic expression, and understood the range of its tonal resources. His biggest music for it is written with very broad and extended chords, strong in character, but always wonderfully clear and ringing, and eminently suited for pianoforte sonority. His tone nuances range from a shadowy, mysterious pppp to a virile, massive ffff.

MacDowell's best orchestral composition is his Second (Indian) Suite, Op. 48. This is one of his most noble works, scored with masterly skill and vividly suggesting the great plains and forests, the wild and lonely retreats, the festivals, sorrows, rejoicings, and romances and also the stern, rude manliness of the North American Indians, whose pathetic annals form such a stirring page in American history. MacDowell also wrote three symphonic poems for orchestra, another suite, and some symphonic sketches.

The songs of MacDowell make an important section of the catalogue of his works, and are chiefly notable for their beauty and tenderness of expression, and he was at his very best when writing in the pure lyric form. His efforts comprising Ops. 56, 58 and 60 are of a rare and expressive order. He also composed a number of fine part-songs for male-voice choruses. Most of his best vocal works are set to his own verses, as he could seldom satisfy himself that words ally themselves naturally with music.

Poetry furnishes a composer with inspiration for expression which, MacDowell felt, could not be clearly demonstrated in a small space, and that the music therefore is apt to distort the words if they are harnessed to it in song form. Most of MacDowell's finest pianoforte pieces bear verses in addition to titles, thus definitely indicating what the music is intended to suggest. His verses are of an uncommon and gifted order, for he was a true poet in both the literary and the musical sense. His poems were collected some years after his death and published under the title of Book of Verses, by Edward MacDowell. They are valuable for their own sake, quite apart from their connection with his music, and make very beautiful reading. A number of his wonderfully illuminating Columbia University lectures, to which we have referred more fully in the preceding chapter, were collected and edited by W.J. Baltzell and published in 1912 under the title of Critical and Historical Essays (Lectures delivered at Columbia University) by Edward MacDowell.

MacDowell's work is of the kind that appeals intimately to those only who understand and feel the significance of things musical. His compositions are seldom mentioned in those terms of effusive adoration so often applied to the works of many well-known composers, neither do they figure largely in the recitals of popular pianists, for minds saturated with sensuous sentiment and the worship of tradition cannot easily follow his pure idealism and the significance of the things which he loved and expressed in his music. His compositions are "modern" in outlook, but remarkably free in spirit and never savour of the type of modernism that is little more than gilded pedanticism.

Mention must be made of MacDowell as a pianist. He was capable of playing with remarkable swiftness of finger action, and his tone production ranged from the most delicate refinement to overwhelming floods of orchestral-like strength. In playing his larger works, he loved to make his music sweep in great waves, and to introduce the most wonderful contrasts and varieties of tone colour. At his recitals he played other music besides his own, and became distinguished as a pianist, although his interpretations were always more personal than traditional.


The whole nature of MacDowell was singularly impressionable, imaginative, idealistic and romantic. He loved the beauty, grandeur and solemnity of Nature not only for its outward aspect, but for what he thought it symbolised. His sensitive character made him extremely sympathetic towards human nature, although he never used his understanding of his fellow men to cultivate by trickery or device their favour and praise. He loved and idealised the ancient days of romance and chivalry, when men lived the wonderful tales of heroism that are now discredited and fading before the materialism of modern civilisation, and in this respect he had an affinity with the English composer, Elgar. He derived enjoyment from fairy tales and folk-lore, and these were his apparent consolation in his tragic last years. He was a man of rare qualities, noble, sincere and unselfish to an extreme. He hated insincerity in any form, and if he had been more tolerant in this respect his path would have often been easier. He had a curious and charming love for the growing things and creatures of the woods, and although an excellent shot, he could never enjoy hunting or shooting, as it hurt him to kill birds or animals. He abhorred the copying, by Americans, of European aristocratic "sport," for the nobleness of his nature could not descend to the vicious customs of those only noble by assumption or in title. His intellectual bearing, his catholicity of tastes and his learning presented a striking contrast to the narrow outlook and brainlessness of the average high-brow type of musician, and in this respect again he was like Elgar.

He dipped deeply into literature, both ancient and contemporary, and was always working out aesthetic and philosophic problems concerning music. His knowledge of his art would have done justice to a learned academician, though this he certainly was not, and he always held shrewdly formed opinions typical of his countrymen, on subjects that interested him. He had a healthy dislike of fashionable "at-homes" and dinner parties where music is "adored" and "loved" by those who may have a good knowledge of social matters, but who have little or no ability to comprehend the deeper significance and power of the art. In fact one suspects that they adopt high-class music chiefly in an attempt to indicate an intellectual status they do not possess. For sincere and able criticism, however, MacDowell always had respect and interest, and he was always touched by what he thought was honest praise and admiration. In quiet conversation he was the most charming of men, but in social gatherings he was ill at ease, and unable to take part in the tactful conversation and studied courtesies of society that make for success. His convictions were passionately idealistic, and he often stated them with a bluntness and utter lack of diplomacy that would have made Beethoven claim him as a brother; although MacDowell felt none of that old giant's bitterness towards Society. Where Beethoven felt contempt for even the praise of those he knew were not great enough to understand him, MacDowell was merely uncomfortable; both because he hated insincere attentions and because his modesty would seldom allow him to believe that he deserved even honest congratulations.[Note: When in London in 1903, MacDowell was asked to give some recitals from his compositions, after the Philharmonic performance of his D minor Piano Concerto, but on seeing the heavy recital list at Wigmore (then Bechstein) Hall, he characteristically decided that nobody would want to hear his music after all the other pianists had played. His London publisher, Mr. W. Elkin. however, asked him to come the following year, which he promised to do, but his fatal illness intervened and he never saw England again.]

He was often sarcastic, with the humour of his countrymen, but never bitter, and even when he was so cruelly misunderstood and misrepresented about his Columbia resignation, he was more hurt and disappointed than angry.

In his private life MacDowell's was a healthy, manly and robust figure. He was fond of outdoor life, of riding and walking, and of the homely hobbies of gardening, photography and carpentry. He was fairly tall, broad-shouldered and powerfully built. His features were strong and intellectual, but a captivating twinkle and humour in his eyes and a frequent sweetness of expression prevented his being stern or forbidding. He had a natural, noble bearing and an unassuming, thoughtful dignity that often gave him a look of command.

In short, MacDowell was as fine as a man as he was as a composer. He loved the traditions of the great Republic whose born citizen he was, and was hopeful of her future in all things, and for her art he worked nobly and unselfishly. He suffered from discouragement in an acute form, but worked steadily on with a simple, unshakable faith in his divine gifts. At the height of his fame he was never unapproachable, but always had a kindly thought for the struggling student of limited means; and although his plans at Columbia University were defeated, he gave free private lessons to poor students of talent. His noble and unselfish action in this regard has not often been equalled among past and present successful musicians. MacDowell was very modest about his work, but he was quite conscious of the greatness of his gifts, and he had the ambition to make a name, not merely for his own sake, but also that America might be able to hold up her head as proudly in music as she does in other things.

The idea of purely personal fame seldom entered his head and when it did it made him rather uncomfortable, but his belief that he was gifted and destined to make a name for his country, sustained him in the struggle against the endless drudgery that always dogged the free use of his talents.

One of MacDowell's dearest wishes was that America should have a musical public capable of judging in an intellectual, educated and sincere manner the merits of music and musicians, uninfluenced by traditions and reputations introduced from other countries. He wanted Americans to encourage their own men in Music, Art and Literature and not to respect a third-rate artist simply because he came from a foreign country having traditions of culture. He insisted on the American composer being treated on absolutely equal terms with the foreigner and according to his merits.


This account of that remarkable haven for creative artists known as the "MacDowell Colony," situated at Peterboro', New Hampshire, U.S.A., about three hours from Boston, is a reprint of the prospectus of the "Edward MacDowell Association." The Colony owes a great debt to the untiring enthusiasm and energy of Mrs. MacDowell, who also finds time to give frequent recitals in various American cities of her late husband's music. In the opinion of many who know of her work, she is only comparable to Madame Schumann, in her practical devotion to her great husband's music and to the realisation of his ideals.


Speaking of nationalism in music—and the remark holds true of nationalism in all the arts—Edward MacDowell once said: "Before a people can find a musical writer to echo its genius, it must first possess men who truly represent the people, that is to say, men who, being part of the people, love the country for itself, and put into their music what the nation has put into its life."

When MacDowell defined the essentials of a characteristic national culture, he did not know that his name would one day be associated with an enterprise ideally fitted to supply these essentials. MacDowell had a dream which he hoped might be converted into reality. This dream was shaped by influences from two different sources—an abandoned farm in New Hampshire and the American Academy at Rome.

He was one of the trustees of the American Academy at Rome. In this capacity he met intimately a remarkable group of men—John W. Alexander, Augustus St. Gaudens, Richard Watson Gilder, Charles McKim, and Frank D. Millet. Contact with these men proved an inspiration to MacDowell and convinced him that there was nothing more broadening to the worker in one art than affiliation with workers in the other arts.

In 1895 MacDowell purchased an old farm in Peterborough. In the deep woods, about ten minutes from the little farmhouse he built a log cabin:

"A house of dreams untold It looks out over the whispering tree-tops And faces the setting sun."

There he did much of his best work and there he liked to dream of a day when other artists could work in just such beautiful and peaceful surroundings. This is the dream that has come true.

Until MacDowell went to Peterborough he had worked under the usual difficult conditions. During the winter he lived in the city amidst noisy surroundings; in the summer he went the rounds of country hotels and boarding-houses. Even the comparative independence of his own house never gave him the quiet and isolation that he craved at times, for there is no household whose wheels can be instantly adjusted to the needs of one member. For years MacDowell tried one makeshift after another until at last in the Log Cabin he found exactly what he needed.

During the last year of MacDowell's life a society was incorporated under the name of the Edward MacDowell Memorial Association. The purpose of the society was to establish in America a fitting memorial to the work and life of the American composer along lines of MacDowell's own suggestion. A sum of about thirty thousand dollars had been raised for MacDowell's benefit. This amount was entrusted to the Association. Mrs. MacDowell deeded to the Association the farm at Peterborough and the contents of MacDowell's home. The Association at once undertook the development of what has since become known as the "Peterborough idea" and before MacDowell's death had actually established, in a modest way, a Colony for Creative Artists.


In an article in the North American Review, Edwin Arlington Robinson writes: "It is practically impossible for me to say, even to myself, just what there is about this place that compels a man to work out the best that there is in him and to be discontented if he fails to do so. The abrupt and somewhat humiliating sense of isolation, liberty, and opportunity which overtakes one each morning has something to do with it, but this sense of opportunity does not in itself explain everything ... The MacDowell Colony is in all probabilities about the worst place in which to conceal one's lack of a creative faculty."

There is nothing camp-like about the place either in appearance or in manner of life. There are comfortable living houses for the men and women with all the conveniences of running water, electric light, and telephone. A common dining room is in Colony Hall. Here good wholesome food is served as it would be in any well-managed household. This much for the creature comforts. For the other and the more important side of Colony life there are fifteen individual studios scattered here and there through the woods.

The daily routine of life in the Colony is somewhat as follows: After breakfast there is a quick scattering of the residents as each one hurries off to his studio. It may be recalled here what an important place MacDowell's Log Cabin plays in this scheme, and how the idea has been to reproduce for as many people as might be in the Colony conditions similar to those MacDowell enjoyed—a comfortable home and an isolated workshop. Each one of the fifteen studios is out of sound and sight of the others. In order that the writer or painter may not be disturbed by the sound of a piano, the composers' studios are as isolated as possible. All the studios have open fireplaces and pleasant verandahs and are furnished simply but always attractively. Each studio has been planned for its own particular site. Some are hidden in the woods, some command views of Monadnock or East Mountain, and some long vistas through the trees.

In order that the working day may be long and uninterrupted, at noon a basket lunch is left at each studio. Dinner is the time for relaxation and social intercourse. Long pleasant evenings are passed in the big living room of Colony Hall which is also the library, or in the Regina Watson Studio which is near Colony Hall and in the evening is used as a general music room, or in leisurely walks to the village.

It should perhaps be added that daily life in the Colony is not the cut and dried affair that this quick resume might seem to imply. No one, of course, is required to stay in his studio all day. No one is required to do anything. These artists are independent men and women, not supervised students, and to all intents they are as free as the wind. There are only two rules to which every one must conform. One is that the studios, with the one exception of the music-room, shall not be used at night. The reason for this rule is the danger of fire. The other rule is that no one shall visit another's studio without invitation. The purpose of this rule is protection against unexpected interruptions. In all other ways the colonist is free to do as he pleases—free except for that irresistible compulsion to work which nobody who lives in the Colony can escape. For, as Mr. Robinson says, the Colony is "the worst loafing place in the world."


A curious distrust of idealistic enterprises prevails in the world even among people whose own life work is idealistic. This distrust the MacDowell Colony has had to fight from the start. It has had to prove that its ideals are practical. It has had to demonstrate this to the very workers for whom it was founded and who should from their own experience have clearly understood the advantages it offers.

Gradually, in the face of discouraging skepticism and in spite of inadequate equipment, it has won recognition and support. Its triumph over initial obstacles is best illustrated by the extent to which it has grown and by the number of earnest art workers who have availed themselves of its opportunities.

Starting with MacDowell's home, his Log Cabin, and two hundred acres of land, the Colony now has five hundred acres of land, including three hundred and fifty acres of forest and a farm in good cultivation, well equipped farm buildings, fifteen studios, and five dwelling houses. There is also Colony Hall, a very large barn which through the generosity of Mrs. Benjamin Prince is being converted into a beautiful building. Colony Hall is the social centre of the Colony. The John W. Alexander Memorial Building, to be used for summer exhibitions of paintings and sculptures, is now under construction and will soon be completed. The Colony has also amassed equipment of another sort including the splendid Cora Dow library of some three thousand volumes and a most valuable collection of scores and costumes. Furthermore a superb open air theatre for outdoor festivals of music and drama has lately been completed. The beautiful stadium seats of this theatre are a gift from the National Federation of Musical Clubs.

Such growth in the physical plant of any enterprise is evidence enough of an actual, tangible success. The number of artists who have availed themselves of the advantages offered by the Colony are proof of another kind of success.


It should be clearly understood that the MacDowell Colony is in no sense a philanthropic enterprise. Although it does strive as far as possible to lower the barriers which lack of means so often places in the path of talent, yet it is not intended primarily for the impecunious. The qualification for admission to the Colony is talent. A prospective colonist must either have some fine achievement to his credit, or be possessed of a talent for which two recognized artists in his own field are willing to vouch.

The directors of the Association consider that it is a sound economic policy to offer the advantages of the Colony at a nominal price. They look upon the amount paid by the residents for board and lodging as the directors of a university look upon the tuition fees paid by the students. These fees are as much as the students can be expected to pay, yet they do not go far toward defraying the entire expenses of the university. The real return to be made by the student is that later contribution to society which in all likelihood will be more important on account of his years of study in the university. Similarly the directors of the Association are carrying on their undertaking for the enrichment of American Art and Letters. Like the university, the Colony must have either public or private support.

In a civilization like ours where the social significance of creative art is not yet popularly recognized, support for an enterprise like the MacDowell Colony cannot be expected from the government. Such support must come from individuals.

This is the reason why the directors of the MacDowell Association are appealing at this time to the friends and patrons of American art to help them raise an endowment of two hundred thousand dollars. Up to the present most of the necessary funds have been raised through the personal efforts of Mrs. MacDowell. The Directors feel that the time has come when her strength, never very great, must be more carefully conserved by lifting from her shoulders this very heavy financial burden. The Colony has had an amazing twelve years of life. Shall its future be threatened by lack of permanent income?


The name of the Edward MacDowell Memorial Association has been changed to the Edward MacDowell Association, Incorporated. The use of the word Memorial has sometimes given people the mistaken idea that the work of the Association was in the nature of propaganda for the MacDowell music. MacDowell's work is finished.

His music has long since spoken for itself and has gained whatever hearing it deserves. The concern of the Association is for contemporary work and for the future of American art in all its branches—this and nothing else.

To the Hof-Capellmeister Dr. Haase, Darmstadt,

19th Oct., 1885.


I permit myself to address you in the hope that you may perhaps feel inclined to have a little work of mine listed on a convenient occasion at a theatre. The Opus would take at most 15-20 minutes in performance. Tune and scores are throughout clearly and correctly copied.

You would infinitely oblige me if you would have the great kindness to grant my request.

In the hope of receiving your early and favourable answer,

I am,

With great respect,

Yours gratefully,




NOTE.—In the British Empire, the more important of MacDowell's pianoforte pieces and songs published in America by Arthur P. Schmidt are obtainable from Elkin & Co., Ltd., 8 & 10, Beak Street, London, W.I., who issue a list of the composer's works they sell. Other MacDowell compositions are mostly obtainable through J. & W. Chester, Ltd., II Great Marlborough Street, London, W.I. Ops. 24, 28 & 31 are issued by Winthrop Rogers, Ltd., 18, Berners Street, London, W.I. In America, Arthur P. Schmidt for all MacDowell works.


Destroyed by the Composer.


First Published, 1894. (Arthur P. Schmidt).

1. Deserted.

2. Slumber Song.

The Two Old Songs, Op. 9, head the list of MacDowell's published works with opus numbers. Their position in it, however, is somewhat misleading to the casual observer of the composer's artistic development, for they are the fruits of a mature period and were given the opus number they bear only as a matter of convenience. They were composed about ten or eleven years after the songs of Ops. 11 and 12, which in comparison with the Two Old, Songs are weak and devoid of individuality and originality. The Two Old Songs are very beautiful and expressive, exhibiting the composer's melodic gift.

Deserted is a setting of Robert Burns's lines, "Ye banks and braes o' bonnie Doon." It is one of the most expressive of MacDowell's songs, being full of deep and very human pathos. The melody is one of the most poignant he set down, but it is subjected to repetition that becomes monotonous. The song is expressively indicated Slow: With pathos, yet simply.

Slumber Song is a setting of some of the composer's own lines, "Dearest, sleep sound." The song presents a fairly good mating of words and music, and its expression is a lovable one, inimitably MacDowell-like in effect.


_Composed, Frankfort, 1880. First Played, July 11th, 1882, by the composer, at the Ninth Annual Convention of the General Society of German Musicians, held at Zurich.

First Published, 1883_ (Breitkopf & Haertel).

Dedicated to Mrs. Joachim Raff.

1. Praeludium.

2. Presto.

3. Andantino and Allegretto.

4. Intermezzo.

5. Rhapsody.

6. Fugue.

The first public performance of this suite was secured by Liszt, whom MacDowell had interviewed and who was entrusted with the making up of the programmes of the General Society of German Musicians at that time. It was on Liszt's recommendation, too, that this suite and its successor, the Second Modern Suite for Pianoforte, Op. 14, were published by Breitkopf and Haertel at Leipzig. The First Modern Suite is of comparatively little importance to-day as music, but it is well written and interesting as an early work by MacDowell. Some significance may be attached to the fact that we find two movements of the suite bearing quotations showing their source of inspiration and suggesting their poetic content. Suggestive titles and verses are an outstanding feature of all MacDowell's later and finest works. Two movements of the suite were first heard in London in March, 1885, at a concert composed of American music.


First Published, 1883 (C.F. Kahnt Nachfolger. British Empire—Elkin & Co.).

1. My Love and I (Op. 11, No. 1).

2. You Love Me Not! (Op. 11, No. 2).

3. In the Sky, where Stars are Glowing (Op. 11, No. 3).

4. Night Song (Op. 12, No. 1).

5. The Chain of Roses (Op. 12, No. 2).

These songs are interesting as the first examples published of MacDowell's work in this form of composition. They are well written and obviously sincere, which is in itself a merit rare in song writing, but they have little of the individual charm and beauty of expression found in the composer's later song groups. My Love and I is the most popular of the set, having a certain distinctive charm of its own.


First Published, 1883. (Revised Edition—Arthur P. Schmidt).

This is a well-written number in conventional form, but it is obviously foreign to MacDowell's temperament, which was only at its best in subjects having some definite poetical basis. The work was later revised by the composer, and while quite a good example of its form, as a MacDowell work it is unconvincing.


Composed, Frankfort-Darmstadt, 1881. First Published, 1883 (Breitkopf & Haertel).

Dedicated to Camille Saint-Saens.

1. Praeludium.

2. Fugato.

3. Rhapsody.

4. Scherzino.

5. March.

6. Fantastic Dance.

Much of this music was composed in the makeshift studio of a German railway carriage, while the composer was travelling to and fro to give lessons, between Frankfort and Darmstadt and from one of these to Erbach-Fuerstenau, the latter place entailing a typically tiring Continental journey. The suite, like its predecessor, the First Modern Suite for Pianoforte, Op. 10, was published at Leipzig by Breitkopf and Haertel on the recommendation of Liszt. The music is of little importance to-day, although it is melodious and well written. The opening Praeludium foreshadows the composer's later regard for significance of expression, for it bears an explanatory quotation from Byron's Manfred. Teresa Carreno, the masculine woman pianist, from whom MacDowell had received one or two early lessons in pianoforte playing, performed the Suite in New York City on March 8th, 1884, and toured three movements of it in the following year, in other parts of the United States.


Composed, Frankfort, 1882. First Published, 1885 (Breitkopf & Haertel).

Dedicated to Franz Liszt.

1. Maestoso, Allegro con fuoco.

2. Andante Tranquillo.

3. PrestoMaestosoMolto piu lentoPresto.

Joachim Raff frightened MacDowell into composing this concerto. He called on his young American pupil one day and asked him what he had in hand? MacDowell, who stood in great awe of his master, was confused and hardly knowing what he was saying replied that he "was working at a concerto." Raff told him to bring it along on the following Sunday, but when that day arrived MacDowell had only the first movement completed, which had been commenced as soon as Raff had left him. He evaded his appointment, and his master named the following Sunday for their meeting, but MacDowell's visit had to be further postponed until the following Tuesday, and by that day he had finished the concerto. On Raff's advice he took the work to Liszt, arranging a second pianoforte part for the purpose. The old master received him kindly and asked D'Albert, who was present, to play the second pianoforte. At the finish he not only complimented MacDowell on his composition, but on his ability as a pianist, which pleased the young American immensely, for he had not yet come to regard his compositions as of any value, and pianoforte playing was his first study. Afterwards MacDowell wrote to Liszt asking him to accept the dedication of the concerto, which the venerable Hungarian did.

The First Pianoforte Concerto hardly ranks as one of MacDowell's finest works, it having been written before he had attained, in any notable degree, to his mature impressionist style. It is, however, brilliantly written, bold and original in harmonic treatment and full of youthful fire and vigour. With the second concerto (Op. 23), it is one of his few large works not having some definitely indicated poetic content. If it has not the significant expression of its greater successors, it has at least a strength and fervency that indicate a youthful genius of no common order. Its interest is not of mere historic value as an early example of MacDowell's work, for it can be performed to-day with success. It has a lasting white heat of inspiration and even in the light of the composer's greater works it still sounds remarkably brilliant and fresh. The influence of Teutonic training is evident and although the concerto cannot now be considered as thoroughly representative of MacDowell, it has a confident bearing and a certain individuality that mark it as something considerably more than a mere academic experiment. It must always be remembered, however, that a two-page piece from Sea Pieces, Op. 55, or New England Idyls, Op. 62, or any mature work by MacDowell is of greater artistic value than the whole of the concerto in question.


First Published, 1883. (Revised Edition—Arthur P. Schmidt.)

This is a weak and unimportant work in MacDowell's catalogue. The conventional morceau style did not suit his type of genius even before it was fully developed. Some years later the composer revised the piece, but it is still of little value, despite its outward grace and charm.


First Published, 1884 (J. Hainauer). (Revised Edition of No. 2—Arthur P. Schmidt.)

1. Legend.

2. Witches' Dance (Hexentanz).

The Legend is interesting and by stretching the imagination may suggest some fantastic fairy tale, but its chief merit is that it is more in keeping with MacDowell's natural gift for musical suggestion than are the preceding pianoforte pieces, and also the succeeding ones comprising Op. 18.

The Witches' Dance became popular with pianoforte virtuosi, being better known under its German title of Hexentanz. MacDowell grew to detest its shallow outlook and the appeal it made to the flashy pianist, although he himself played it in public as late as 1891. He revised both the Two Fantastic Pieces some years after their original publication.


First Published, 1884 (J. Hainauer). (Revised Edition of No. 1—Arthur P. Schmidt.)

1. Barcarolle in F.

2. Humoresque in A.

These are two more unimportant pieces in conventional style, indicating that MacDowell had not realized at that time just where his true genius lay. The revised version of Barcarolle made some years after its original publication, fails to make it convincing, although it has a certain outward charm and is well written in the particular style of piece of which it is an example. Poetic significance, as we know it in MacDowell's representative works, is conspicuous by its absence in these two compositions.


First Published, 1884. New Edition, 1912 (C. F. Kahnt Nachfolger. British Empire—Elkin & Co.).

Dedicated to Miss Marian Nevins.

1. Forest Stillness.

2. Play of the Nymphs.

3. Reverie.

4. Dance of the Dryads.

These pieces are noteworthy as early attempts at significant expression and the consequent foreshadowing of MacDowell's mature period. Their suggesting of their particular subjects as indicated in the titles is fairly well done, but they are of little importance as music, reflecting as they do the nineteenth century German romanticism that had already been fully exploited by Schumann and others. There is little of the individuality of MacDowell in any of the Forest Idyls. The dedication is interesting, for Miss Marian Nevins became Mrs. MacDowell in the year of the original publication of the pieces. The revised edition of Forest Idyls now in circulation in England is by Robert Teichmueller, and was issued in 1912. MacDowell himself revised the Reverie (No. 3) and the Dance of the Dryads (No. 4) in his later period, and these are published in America by Arthur P. Schmidt.

1. Forest Stillness is an Adagio, opening with softly breathed chords misterioso. The effect is one of deep stillness, but soon becomes dull and burdensome, seeming to lack that touch of genius found in the composer's later works, which are able to preserve their interest throughout.

2. Play of the Nymphs is technically clever and brilliant, but lacks interest and is too spun out.

3. Reverie is a short and tuneful little piece with little or nothing MacDowell-like in it and much of nineteenth century German romanticism and harmonies. It has been arranged for orchestra, and for pianoforte and strings.

4. Dance of the Dryads would doubtless attract lovers of the Sydney Smith type of salon music, if there are any of them left. It opens in quite a bewitching dance manner and then goes on tinkling away on top notes, with chromatic runs, half floating arpeggios and all the rest of the stock-in-trade of pretty salon music. There are, however, some rather characteristic touches in it, which distinguish it from its companions. The key transitions from A flat major through distant D major and then F sharp major in bars 22, 23 and 24 (Teichmueller 1912 Edition) respectively are quite personal.


Composed, Winter, 1884-5. First Published, 1886 (J. Hainauer).

1. Nights at Sea.

2. Tale of the Knights.

3. Ballade.

Like the Forest Idyls, Op. 19, these pieces have a definite poetic basis, but are conceived in a manner that only slightly suggests the individuality of the composer. They are quite musical and well written for a pianoforte duet, but lack the sustained interest one expects to find in MacDowell's work.


Composed, Winter, 1884-5. First Published, 1886 (J. Hainauer).

1. The Hindoo Maiden.

2. Stork's Story.

3. In Tyrol.

4. The Swan.

5. Visit of the Bear.

The titles of these pieces are quite characteristic of MacDowell, and are early indications of his love of the imaginative and fanciful atmosphere of fairy tales. The pieces were originally intended to form a suite for orchestra, but the opportunity arose to have them printed as pianoforte duets and the composer was not in a financial position to refuse the offer. Unfortunately he destroyed the orchestral sketches. The Moon Pictures are as a whole charming and imaginative in conception, and represent the fancies of the immortal Hans Andersen, although they are far from being truly representative of MacDowell as we now know him.


Composed, Frankfort, Winter, 1884-5. First Published, 1885 (J. Hainauer).

Dedicated to Henry Irving and Ellen Terry.

With the appearance of Hamlet and Ophelia MacDowell found his reputation considerably increasing. The work was performed in a number of German towns soon after its first appearance, and within a year following its publication the Ophelia section was performed in the composer's native city, New York. In the year following this latter event, the Hamlet section was played in the same city. The first complete performance at Boston, Mass., was on January 28th, 1893, the Boston Symphony Orchestra playing with Nikisch as conductor. Hamlet and Ophelia really consists of two separate poems for orchestra, and was first published in that form, but MacDowell himself afterwards authorised its alteration into one work, and he named it First Symphonic Poem. The piece is not an altogether unworthy product of his genius. It bears unmistakable evidence of Teutonic influence, but there is a certain originality of thought and a freshness of spirit about it that make for serious work. It was by far the most important of MacDowell's music up to this period, for in addition to a skill and brilliance of harmonic and orchestral colouring, it has a depth of feeling and fuller exposition of personality than its predecessors. It has a sense of romance, a beauty of melodic outline and an attempted justification of title that are, at least, sincerely effected, and although it is far from being one of its author's representative works, it must be remembered that he was but twenty-four years of age at its completion. As a youthful achievement it is very fine, the creation of a gifted, though immature, tone poet, and full of a promise that the future was to amply fulfil. The title and dedication of the work are interesting, and both indicate its link with the English dramatic world. The performance of the English Shakespearian actors, Sir Henry Irving and Ellen Terry, inspired MacDowell whilst in London in 1884, on his honeymoon trip with Mrs. MacDowell.


Probably Commenced Early in 1885 at Frankfort. Completed at Wiesbaden the same year.

First Performance in New York City, March 5th 1889, at Chickering Hall, by the Composer and Orchestra Conducted by Theodore Thomas.

First Published, 1890 (Breitkopf & Haertel).

Dedicated to Teresa Carreno.

1. Larghetto calmatoPoco piu mosso.

2. Presto giocoso.

3. Largomolto Allegro, etc.

This is the most frequently played of MacDowell's two concertos for pianoforte. It is much the finer of the two, being constructed with greater skill and artistic confidence than the First Concerto, Op. 15, and of all the works of MacDowell's early period it is the most enduring. Like its predecessor, it is one of the composer's few compositions that have no definitely indicated poetic content. As a whole it is a work full of feeling, brilliantly cohesive and logical, with good material that is handled with confident skill, but it is not to be compared with even the small works of the composer's mature period, which commences with his Opus 47. Its character, however, is altogether strong and virile, containing many passages of pure tonal beauty and eloquent expressiveness. The orchestra is written for with skill and imagination and is on equal terms with the solo instrument. The only fault of the work is that its pianoforte part is far too continuously brilliant.

The concerto was enthusiastically received on MacDowell's first performances of it in New York in March, 1889, and in Boston a month later. On July 12th of the same year he played it in Paris. His playing of it at a concert of the New York Philharmonic Society on December 14th, 1894, was a memorable one and created a furore, and he not only had to bow several times after each movement, but at the end was given a storm of cheering and recalled again and again to receive the acknowledgments of the Philharmonic audience, which could be very critical when occasion demanded. On May 14th, 1903, MacDowell visited London and played the concerto at a concert given by the venerable Royal Philharmonic Society held at Queen's Hall. The work had been first played in London (Crystal Palace) three years previously, by Carreno.


Composed, Wiesbaden, Early Summer, 1887.

First Published, 1887 (J. Hainauer. British Empire—Winthrop Rogers, Ltd.).

1. Humoresque.

2. March.

3. Cradle Song.

4. Czardas (Friska).

The interval of time between the preceding work and these pieces is explained by the fact that MacDowell and his wife had been travelling, and the latter had passed through a dangerous illness at Wiesbaden. The _Four Pieces for Pianoforte_ (_ 24) were among the first productions of the composer after his return to Wiesbaden, and date from that delightful period when he lived with his wife in a cottage in the woods, some way from the town. The pieces under notice are tuneful and well written, but quite devoid of the individuality that distinguishes the composer's later works. The brilliant _Czardas_ was revised by MacDowell in his later period.


Composed, Wiesbaden, 1887-8. First American Performance at Boston, Mass., January 10th, 1890, at a Symphony Concert Conducted by Nikisch. First Published, 1888 (J. Hainauer).

Dedicated to Templeton Strong.

MacDowell was not long in returning to the domain of symphonic music, the First Symphonic Poem, Hamlet and Ophelia, Op. 22, and the Second Pianoforte Concerto, Op. 23, having been composed only about two or three years previously and separated from it in order of opus number merely by a group of unimportant piano pieces comprising Op. 24. Lancelot and Elaine has its poetical basis in the legends of King Arthur's days, which MacDowell loved to read about and idealize. The work as a whole follows Tennyson's poem and is essentially programme music. It is impressively scored, rich and sonorous in harmonic treatment and full of strikingly vivid and expressive poetical feeling. The brilliance of the tournament; the loveliness of Elaine; the nobleness of Lancelot; the scene of the maiden's funeral barge floating down the river, and the knight's ensuing grief—all are graphically illustrated in MacDowell's tone poem. The work embraces moods and colours from brilliant exhilaration to sombreness and poignant emotion. The climaxes are stirring and coherent, and in many places the music really attains to a considerable amount of dramatic power, contrasted by passages of infinitely expressive tenderness. The whole thing was evidently composed in a state of fervent inspiration and the feeling of Teutonic influence, which was still over MacDowell at that time, is forgotten in the power and beauty of his tone poetry, already becoming individual and distinct from that of other composers.


Composed, Wiesbaden, 1887. First Published, 1887 (G. Schirmer).

1. The Pansy.

2. The Myrtle.

3. The Clover.

4. The Yellow Daisy.

5. The Bluebell.

6. The Mignonette.

These songs are purely lyrical and are quite delightful examples of MacDowell's work in this form, which he was to afterwards uphold as a beautiful medium for song writing. They are not quite of his very best output, but make charming solo numbers and are free from vocal emotionalism. Many flower songs of other composers are harnessed to highly emotional subjects and tend to become love-songs, MacDowell's songs are a welcome relief in their purely lyrical outlook. It will be noticed that the titles of the songs in this group are all of the simple type of flowers such as he loved, the gaudy, heavy and carefully cultivated blossoms being conspicuous by their absence. It will serve no purpose here to suggest which of the songs is the best, for each has its own particular charm and it is more a matter of taste and fancy than judgment as to which are the favourites.


Composed, Wiesbaden, 1887. First Published, 1890 (Arthur P. Schmidt).

1. In the Starry Sky Above Us.

2. Springtime.

3. The Fisher-boy.

These are spirited and well written part-songs. They contain expressive matter and make good and contrasting numbers for male-voice choirs. The fact that they savour of the influence of the German romantic school does not detract from their general merit, although they are not truly MacDowell-like.


Composed, Wiesbaden, 1887. First Published, 1887 (J. Hainauer. Revised Edition—Arthur P. Schmidt. British Empire—Winthrop Rogers, Ltd.).

1. In the Woods.

2. Siesta.

3. To the Moonlight.

4. Silver Clouds.

5. Flute Idyl.

6. The Bluebell.

These pieces were suggested to the composer by lines by the German poet, Goethe. The music attempts to suggest the various scenes indicated by the verses quoted at the head of each piece. It is an advance on the preceding small pieces for pianoforte, and foreshadows the later MacDowell of inimitable poetic suggestion in music. The whole set was later revised by the composer in his mature period, and in this form they are acceptable, but even now not satisfying to those who are acquainted with his greater work.


Commenced, Wiesbaden, 1888. Completed, Boston, Winter, 1888-9. First Published, 1908 (Posthumously) (Arthur P. Schmidt). Dedicated to Henry T. Finck.

MacDowell refrained from publishing this work because he had been unable to try it over in America with an orchestra, as he had been able to do in Germany with his earlier symphonic works, and he was not altogether certain of its effect. He, however, published his two later suites for orchestra, Ops. 42 and 48, with confidence.

The chief demerit of Lamia is that it is obviously influenced by the music of Wagner, and has but little of MacDowell's customary individual expression. Apart from this defect, however, it is undoubtedly effective, strongly and well written, and interestingly scored. MacDowell himself considered it at least the equal of his two earlier symphonic poems, Hamlet and Ophelia, Op. 22, and Lancelot and Elaine, Op. 25, and intended revising it. The work was published after his death by friends who were anxious to provide against any future doubt as to its authenticity. The composer dedicated it to Henry T. Finck, the distinguished American musical critic, who was one of the first to recognise the significance of MacDowell's music.

Lamia has its poetic basis in the romantic, legendary poem by John Keats. An introductory note by the composer in the full score briefly outlines the meaning of the music:—

Lamia, an enchantress in the form of a serpent, loves Lycius, a young Corinthian. In order to win him she prays to Hermes, who answers her appeal by transforming her into a lovely maiden. Lycius meets her in the wood, is smitten with love for her and goes with her to her enchanted palace, where the wedding is celebrated with great splendour. But suddenly Apollonius the magician appears; he reveals the magic. Lamia again assumes the form of a serpent, the enchanted palace vanishes, and Lycius is found lifeless.

The music commences with a sinister theme, Lento misterioso, con tristezza, given out by bassoon and celli, accompanied by a soft drum roll. This motive is the main one of the work, and may be regarded as that of Lamia. After some impassioned development, the music leads quietly into an Allegro con fuoco. This opens with a strong tune, having a distinctly Teutonic flavour. It is announced by the horns con sordini, accompanied very softly by held notes in the strings, except viola, pizzicato in the celli, and tympani. From now onwards the music is graphic, and contains some passages of unmistakable dramatic power. The presence of the sinister opening theme is frequently felt. Near the end the whole sinks away, a plaintive little clarinet solo, Lento, indicating the death of Lycius. This is followed by a short and vigorous conclusion.


Composed, Wiesbaden, about 1887-8. First Performed, November, 1891, at Boston, U.S.A., by Listemann and the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra. First Published, 1891 (Breitkopf & Haertel).

These two orchestral pieces have their poetic basis in The Song of Roland, and were at first intended by the composer to form movements, or at least important parts, of a symphony on the same subject. The description, Fragments, under which MacDowell published them, after his plan for a symphony had been abandoned, is a very modest one for two such fine pieces of orchestral tone poetry. The Saracens is a piece of great power, dramatic and wild in spirit and vivid in harmonic and instrumental colouring. It represents the scene in which the traitor, Ganelon, determines on the deed that results in the death of Roland. The whole passage is vividly suggested by the music.

The Lovely Alda is a very beautiful and human piece. Alda was Roland's bethrothed and the music aims at suggesting her loveliness and her mourning for her lover. There are passages of intensely impressive melancholy in the Fragment and its human feeling is typical of MacDowell. Altogether the two pieces are music on a high plane and worth attention for their own intrinsic value, quite apart from their connection with the symphony that never materialised. They bear a stamp of seriousness of effort and a conscious responsibility that only the really great composer is able to indicate.


Composed, Wiesbaden, 1887. First Published, 1887 (J. Hainauer. Revised Edition—Arthur P. Schmidt. British Empire—Winthrop Rogers, Ltd.).

1. We Sat by the Fisherman's Cottage.

2. Far Away, on the Rock-coast of Scotland. (Scotch poem.)

3. My Child, We Were Once Children.

4. We Travelled Alone in the Gloomy Post-chaise.

5. Shepherd Boy's a King.

6. Death Nothing is but Cooling Night. (Poeme erotique.)

Certain of these pieces, in the edition revised by the composer, are rather good, and are full of suggestive effort. They have, too, a touch of the composer's individuality about them, although not of his greater kind. The pianoforte writing is well done and effective, but lacks the sweep of line and power of the later works. As a whole, however, the Six Poems after Heine are quite creditable and self contained pieces, each number bearing some Heine verses indicating its poetic basis.

The first piece is contemplative and contains some distinctly MacDowell-like harmonic touches.

The second graphically depicts the raging sea of the rocky coast of Scotland, a grey old castle and a beautiful, but ailing, woman harpist, whose gloomy song goes out into the storm. The music is powerful and picturesque in the storm passages, while the sad Scottish song of the woman adds vivid local colour to the whole.

The third number is rather poor and devoid of any real interest.

The journey in the post-chaise is told fairly graphically in the fourth piece. The music is not very interesting, although its hurried progress suggests the monotony of travel in a rumbling vehicle on a night journey.

The fifth piece is lovely and tender, but not particularly expressive. The last of the set opens with a noble, half-sad melody that is typical of MacDowell. Its agitated middle section provides a good contrast.

Two of the poems were played in orchestral garb for the first time in England at a London Queen's Hall Promenade Concert on October 3rd, 1916. They were No. 6, Poeme erotique, and No. 2, Scotch Poem.


Composed, Wiesbaden, about 1888. Revised by the Composer, 1906. Copyrighted 1894 and 1906 (Breitkopf & Haertel).

1. The Eagle.

2. The Brook.

3. Moonshine.

4. Winter.

These pieces are, in their revised version, more individual and more worth playing than any of the preceding small pianoforte works by MacDowell. They have his true ring and stamp, although even here not in its most highly-developed form, and they exemplify his already unerring power to create atmospheres of far-reaching significance, even in tiny spaces, for all four poems are but two-page pieces, and the most striking, The Eagle, is but twenty-six bars in length.

1. The Eagle is a tone picture of Tennyson's lines:—

_He clasps the crag with crooked hands; Close to the sun in lonely lands, Ring'd with the azure world, he stands.

The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls; He watches from his mountain walls, And like a thunderbolt he falls._

The opening high, wind-swept chords; the succeeding softly-breathed, high chromatics, with the deep-voiced bass, creating an atmosphere of the vast loneliness of wild mountain heights; the gradual descent to spell-binding silence and then the startling shriek and swoop down of the eagle—all these are suggested in this tiny piece with unmistakable power. The Eagle is remarkable for its programme music aspect in the light of MacDowell's later works, for in these it is perfected suggestion and not realism that we find.

2. The Brook is a clever little piece, delicate and refined. It begins with lovable simplicity, which is broken for a time by an expressive and characteristic passage marked sotto voce. The piece as a whole has for its motto Bulwer's lines:—

Gay below the cowslip bank, see the billow dances; There I lay, beguiling time—when I liv'd romances; Dropping pebbles in the wave, fancies into fancies.

3. Moonshine opens softly with a broad and dignified melody. The expression soon becomes tender, but is interspersed with jocular little passages. MacDowell illustrates in his characteristic manner a lonely tramp at night, with the grotesque streaks of the moonlight breaking quaintly into the pedestrian's contemplative mood. The music is curiously lonely and suggestive of a quiet moonlight night in the country. Particularly lovable are the soft, characteristic chord progressions, followed by lonely silence, on the second page, just before the opening melody returns. The piece ends with the moon kissing the traveller good-night.

4. Winter is a piece of deep feeling, quite haunting in its expression of lonely grief. Its motto is taken from some lines by Shelley:—

_A widow bird sate mourning for her love Upon a wintry bough; The frozen wind crept on above, The freezing stream below.

There was no leaf upon the forest bare, No flower upon the ground, And little motion in the air Except the mill-wheel's round._

The music is of the kind that remains in the memory for a long time and is of a quality as moving in its sadness as anything MacDowell ever composed. Its suggested scene seems to be the bleak and icy winter of North America.


Composed, Wiesbaden, 1888. First Published, 1894 (J. Hainauer. Revised Edition of Nos. 2 & 3—Arthur P. Schmidt).

1. Prayer.

2. Cradle Hymn.

3. Idyl.

These songs are rather beautiful, and sincerely, although not grandly, inspired. They are probably the least known in America and England of MacDowell's songs, but they do not lack a fine, spiritual outlook.


Composed, 1888. First Published, 1889 (Arthur P. Schmidt).

1. Menie.

2. My Jean.

These two songs are full of freshness and charm of expression. Menie is a beautiful song; My Jean is, however, the more important of the two, it is inspired and characteristically human in spirit. Neither of these songs, however, can be compared for spontaneous beauty and expression with MacDowell's later groups.


Composed, Wiesbaden, 1888. First Published, 1888 (J. Hainauer).

Dedicated to David Popper.

This is an outwardly charming and melodious work, but strangely alien to MacDowell's general high tone. The usual significant poetic matter is absent, but unlike the pianoforte concertos (Ops. 15 and 23), which are also abstract works, the piece is altogether inferior in artistic value, even if we look upon it as an early attempt, for preceding pieces are, at least, more sincere. The two following numbers, 36 (Etude de Concert for Pianoforte) and 37 (Les Orientales for Pianoforte), and this Romance for Violoncello and Orchestra present a sequence of creative work unworthy of MacDowell, a falling off common to most composers of standing at some time or other. The technical side of the work is fair, the tone quality of the violoncello having been evidently considered. The piece is dedicated to Popper, whose name is familiar to all 'cello players.


Composed, Boston, U.S.A., 1889. First Published, 1889 (Arthur P. Schmidt).

"Don't put that dreadful thing on your programme," was the burden of a telegram MacDowell once despatched to Teresa Carreno when he heard she was to play the Etude de Concert in F sharp, so we know that the composer himself came, later on, to recognise the inferior quality of this work. It is good enough for the salon composer and the show pianist, but as coming from MacDowell's pen it made a poor start as practically the first thing he composed on his return to his native country in 1888, especially as he had been preceded there by his good European reputation. The brilliant pianistic effect of the piece, however, is undeniable.


Composed, Boston, 1889. First Published, 1889 (Arthur P. Schmidt).

1. Clair de Lune.

2. Dans le Hamac.

3. Danse Andalouse.

The first work produced by MacDowell in Boston, Etude de Concert, Op. 36, was followed by music of equally poor quality, in the composer's opinion. The pieces under notice are after Hugo's Les Orientales, and although tolerably suggestive of their titles, are of such poor inspiration that they have little or no musical value outside the salon type of compositions that the composer himself abhorred. Even the pretty Clair de Lune is shallow stuff, although it has attained some popularity as a melodious solo, both in its original version and in its arrangement for violin and pianoforte.


Composed about 1888. Revised and rearranged by the Composer, 1901. First Published, 1888 (J. Hainauer. Revised Version, 1901—Arthur P. Schmidt).

Dedicated to Miss Nina Nevins.


1. Soubrette. 1. Prologue.

2. Lover. 2. Soubrette.

3. Villain. 3. Lover.

4. Lady-Love. 4. Witch.

5. Clown. 5. Clown.

6. Witch. 6. Villain.

7. Sweetheart.

8. Epilogue.

These little pieces are quite notable and extremely interesting both in their original and revised versions. Although the subjects they portray are the stiff-moving and grotesque figures of Marionettes, their general effect is often intensely human. The set as a whole may be viewed as a half serious, half whimsical study of characters in human life, issued under the disguise of jointed and painted dummies. Beneath the quaint, stiff movement of the music there is just that touch of seriousness, a sort of droll sadness, that makes of it something more than a doll's play. The revised edition of Marionettes is the best and most characteristic, and in the United States is the accepted one. In England, however, the original edition, published at Breslau in 1888 by Julius Hainauer, is still being sold.

Soubrette is a stiff, but bright little piece. In places it has a wistfulness that seems to suggest that the human counterpart of the character has feelings, not being merely an emotionless puppet for public amusement.

Lover has much the same stiff movement as the preceding piece, but is more tender and subdued, dying softly away in the final bars. There is much human feeling in this number.

Villain is a realistic Marionette piece, with a quaint, foreboding and sardonic spirit, the little climax being quite villainous.

Lady-love brings a gentle and charming study to view, the typical quaint movement of the pieces as a whole being here considerably softened and made more flowing and graceful.

Clown makes a jolly number, but beneath its outward dummy-like comicalness there runs a strain of human feeling that towards the end comes uppermost, the music becoming quite subdued, growing fainter and fainter until nothing is left but a few little final jerks.

Witch has a grotesque and mechanical jauntiness. There are some powerful and sinister passages in it, the final gesture, with its sudden tonic minor chord, capping the realism of the piece.

In the revised version of Marionettes the character drawing is more skilful, and we incidentally notice the illuminating and characteristic English used in the works of MacDowell's mature period instead of the conventional Italian musical terms. The little comedy-drama is opened by a Prologue, in which jovial, wistful and sardonic motives variously indicate the types of characters in the play, and is rounded off by an Epilogue, which is one of the most beautiful of MacDowell's smaller pieces, being full of tender feeling, and indicating unmistakably the deeper and human significance of the composer's Marionette studies. The whole album comprises one of MacDowell's most interesting portrayals of everyday human nature, standing quite alone in its droll half-amusing, half-pathetic mode of expression. It is something quite apart from the more specialised romantic and heroic figures of the three symphonic poems, Hamlet and Ophelia, Op. 22, Lancelot and Elaine, Op. 25, and Lamia, Op. 29; the three last pianoforte sonatas, Eroica, Op. 50, Norse, Op. 57, and Keltic, Op. 59; or of the noble "Indian" Suite, Op. 48.


Composed, about 1889-90. First Published, 1890 (Arthur P. Schmidt).


1. Hunting Song.

2. Alla Tarantella.

3. Romance.

4. Arabeske.

5. In the Forest.

6. Dance of the Gnomes.


1. Idyl.

2. Shadow Dance.

3. Intermezzo.

4. Melody.

5. Scherzino.

6. Hungarian.

These pieces have as their chief object the development of pianoforte technique, but are quite interesting as poetical music. In his technical instruction, whether through musical examples or verbally, MacDowell inspired his subject with the idealism and vivid thought of the true poet. The poetry of these studies is not of the composer's finest inspiration, but it is of a quality sufficient to prevent their being viewed solely as technical exercises. Generally, they do not require advanced executive ability to play.

Hunting Song (Allegretto) is a study for accent and grace, but not particularly interesting as music.

Alla Tarantella (Prestissimo) is a fairly effective study for speed and lightness of touch. It is not very difficult to play, having convenient three-note phrases.

Romance (Andantino) is fairly tuneful, but not particularly interesting. It is a study for the development of the singing touch.

Arabeske (Allegro scherzando) is a sparkling wrist study.

_In the Forest_ (_Allegretto con moto_) is suggestive enough, but not in MacDowell's finest style. It does not compare favourably with the forest pieces in his delightful _Woodland Sketches, Op. 51, or with the deeply inspired and mature _New England Idyls, Op. 62_. Its technical object is the development of delicate rhythmical playing.

Dance of the Gnomes (Prestissimo confuoco), the last study of Book I, is another piece of imperfectly realised suggestive tone poetry. It is difficult to play, requiring great crispness of finger action combined with perfect control of tone volume.

Idyl (Allegretto) is No. I of Book II, and has a certain charm and lyrical beauty, although not one of the composer's best efforts. It is a study for the cultivation of delicacy, singing tone and grace.

Shadow Dance (Allegrissimo) has just that touch of fanciful romanticism that MacDowell knew how to infuse into a piece, thus heightening its interest. The piece is one of the most popular of MacDowell's shorter pieces and makes a fine solo. From a technical point of view, it is a valuable study for development of finger agility combined with lightness of touch.

Intermezzo (Allegretto) is tuneful and pleasing, but does not reach a very high level of poetic writing. It is, however, a useful exercise for development of independent action of the two middle fingers of the hand.

Melodie (Andantino) is a melodious exercise for cultivating independence of fingers.

Scherzino (Allegro) is a tuneful study for double note playing with the right hand.

Hungarian (Presto con fuoco) has the characteristic fire and syncopated rhythm of a Brahms' Hungarian Dance, and is a study for the development of dash, speed and virtuoso playing.


Composed, 1890. First Published, 1890 (Arthur P. Schmidt).

1. Sweet Blue-Eyed Maid.

2. Sweetheart, Tell Me.

3. Thy Beaming Eyes.

4. For Sweet Love's Sake.

5. O Lovely Rose.

6. I Ask But This.

These songs, although not absolutely of the composer's best, have a charm, tenderness of feeling and beauty of expression that is often irresistible. They are essentially the love songs of a romantic, but refined and gifted poet. As a whole they are singularly free from sexual sensuousness, which is so often a trait in songs of their type. There is an idealism, wonderfully fresh and pure, about them, that is antagonistic to the composer's own assertion that verse often becomes doggerel when harnessed to music in song form.

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