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 Edward MacDowell

Edward MacDowell

Birth
New York, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
Death 23 Jan 1908 (aged 47)
New York, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
Burial Peterborough, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire, USA
Memorial ID 657 · View Source
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Composer and Pianist. He was the first American composer of classical music to win international recognition. MacDowell is chiefly remembered for his evocative piano miniatures, collected in the suites "Woodland Sketches" (1896), "Sea Pieces" (1898), "Fireside Tales" (1902), and "New England Idylls" (1902). The Piano Concerto No. 2 (1889) and the "Indian Suite" (1892) for orchestra are regarded as his finest large-scale works. MacDowell was not an innovator, and his style was too firmly rooted in the European Romantic tradition for him to be considered a nationalist, despite his occasional use of folk material. What stands out in his music is its sensitive tone painting and melodic felicity. His other compositions include the "Modern Suite" (1882), Piano Concerto No. 1 (1882), the symphonic poems "Hamlet and Ophelia" (1885), "Lancelot and Elaine" (1888), "Lamia" (1889), and "The Saracens" (1891), the piano sonatas "Tragica" (1893), "Eroica" (1895), "Norse" (1900), and "Keltic" (1901), and many art songs. Edward Alexander MacDowell was born in New York City, and studied music at the Paris Conservatory and at the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt. He intended to become a concert pianist but turned to composing with the encouragement of his teacher, Joachim Raff, and Franz Liszt, who arranged performances of his early works in Europe. From 1888 to 1895 he lived in Boston, where he supported himself with teaching and concertizing. MacDowell established the Music Department at New York's Columbia University in 1896, serving as chairman for eight years, and in 1904 he became one of the seven founding members of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In the early 1900s MacDowell's mental and physical health began to decline, most likely as a result of tertiary syphilis. He scandalously resigned from his Columbia professorship and withdrew from the public eye, eventually lapsing into dementia and paralysis. During lucid moments in his tragic final years he became obssessed with the idea of creating a haven for artists at his farm in Peterborough, New Hampshire, where he had spent several peaceful summers composing. Shortly before his death at 47, his wife, Marian Nevins MacDowell (1857-1956), fulfilled his dream and organized the MacDowell Colony as a summer retreat for all creative types. Today it is the oldest such institution in the United States. The composer and his wife are buried there. MacDowell was elected to the Hall of Fame for Great Americans in 1960.

Bio by: Bobb Edwards


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 657
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Edward MacDowell (18 Dec 1860–23 Jan 1908), Find A Grave Memorial no. 657, citing MacDowell Colony, Peterborough, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .