Charles Wakefield Cadman

Cadman's music is marked by well-made melodies, if conventional harmony. He belongs to that group of American composers--which also included Farwell, Gilbert, Nevin, and Skilton--who idealized (i.e. set into a conservative 19th-century harmonic idiom) the music of the American Indians.

--Oxford Music Online

Photo: Charles Wakefield Cadman, 1916, courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

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    About

    A prime mover in the American folk movement, Charles Wakefield Cadman’s principal contributions to American music lie in his exploration of Amerindian music and his operas composed on American themes. Raised in Pittsburgh, where he worked as a boy messenger in the steel mills, Cadman pursued private musical studies. He served as a music critic for the Pittsburgh Dispatch and performed as an accompanist and conductor at the start of his career before turning his attention to composition.

    Collaborating with local poet Nelle Richmond Eberhart in 1909, Cadman produced a series of songs on Indian themes, from which the lilting melody “From the Land of the Sky Blue Water” became an instant hit. Soon after, the famous tenor John McCormack programmed one of Cadman’s earlier songs, “At Dawning,” and his future as a composer was secured. Inspired by the various ethnological inquiries then in vogue in America’s ill-fated quest to preserve the dwindling Native American culture, Cadman spent the summer of 1909 collecting and recording Omaha and Winnebago tribal melodies and studying American Indian music. With a Native American princess, the mezzo-soprano Tsianina Redfeather, he toured the country between 1909 and 1916, giving music-talks on Amerindian music. He finally settled in Los Angeles, where he devoted himself to opera.

    His Shanewis (1918), based on Princess Redfeather’s life, secured the distinction of being not only the first work on an American theme to be performed at the Metropolitan Opera, but also the first to have been successful enough to merit repeat performances the following year. Cadman also drew inspiration from American literature for his other stage works, The Garden of Mystery (1925), based on a Hawthorne story, and The Witch of Salem (1926). His last years were spent in California, where he enjoyed a liaison with English soprano Maggie Teyte, helped found the Hollywood Bowl, and continued to compose instrumental, choral, and chamber works, whose conventional style and sentiment became increasingly outmoded.

    –Thomas Hampson and Carla Maria Verdino-Süllwold, PBS I Hear America Singing

    Related Information

    Songs

    At Dawning

    Charles Wakefield Cadman

    Nelle Richmond Eberhart

    Far Off I Hear a Lover's Flute

    Charles Wakefield Cadman

    Nelle Richmond Eberhart

    Song Collection: From the Land of the Sky-Blue Water

    From the Land of the Sky-Blue Water

    Song Collection

    Charles Wakefield Cadman

    Nelle Richmond Eberhart

    From the Land of the Sky-Blue Water

    Charles Wakefield Cadman

    Nelle Richmond Eberhart

    Song Collection: From the Land of the Sky-Blue Water

    Idyls of the South Sea

    Song Collection

    Charles Wakefield Cadman

    Nelle Richmond Eberhart

    Leave Not This Sea-encircled Isle (Calypso's Song)

    Charles Wakefield Cadman

    Nelle Richmond Eberhart

    Song Collection: Three Songs to Odysseus

    Memories

    Charles Wakefield Cadman

    Nelle Richmond Eberhart

    The Moon Drops Low

    Charles Wakefield Cadman

    Nelle Richmond Eberhart

    Song Collection: From the Land of the Sky-Blue Water

    The Rainbow Waters Whisper (Canoe Song)

    Charles Wakefield Cadman

    Nelle Richmond Eberhart

    Song Collection: Idyls of the South Sea

    The White Dawn is Stealing

    Charles Wakefield Cadman

    Nelle Richmond Eberhart

    Song Collection: From the Land of the Sky-Blue Water

    Thou Wouldst Not Stay (Nausicaä's Song)

    Charles Wakefield Cadman

    Nelle Richmond Eberhart

    Song Collection: Three Songs to Odysseus

    Three Songs to Odysseus

    Song Collection

    Charles Wakefield Cadman

    Nelle Richmond Eberhart

    The Great Wind Shakes the Breadfruit Leaf (Ghost Song)

    Charles Wakefield Cadman

    Nelle Richmond Eberhart

    Song Collection: Idyls of the South Sea

    Welcome, Within My Shining Portals (Circe's Song)

    Charles Wakefield Cadman

    Nelle Richmond Eberhart

    Song Collection: Three Songs to Odysseus

    Where the Long White Waterfall (Love Song)

    Charles Wakefield Cadman

    Nelle Richmond Eberhart

    Song Collection: Idyls of the South Sea

    Withered is the Green Palm (Death Song)

    Charles Wakefield Cadman

    Nelle Richmond Eberhart

    Song Collection: Idyls of the South Sea

    Videos

    Recordings

    stopping by

    (Mark Abel, Samuel Barber, Amy Marcy Beach, Leonard Bernstein, Charles Wakefield Cadman, Elliott Carter, Aaron Copland, Celius Dougherty, John Woods Duke, Stephen Foster, Charles Griffes and Ned Rorem)

    2013

    Dvořák und seine Zeit

    (Charles Wakefield Cadman, Arthur Farwell, Edward MacDowell and Charles Ives)

    2004

    Bird Songs at Eventide

    (Charles Wakefield Cadman, George Whitefield Chadwick and Abraham Wood)

    1995

    Paul Sperry Sings Songs of an Innocent Age

    (Amy Marcy Beach, Charles Wakefield Cadman, John Alden Carpenter, George Whitefield Chadwick, Arthur Foote, Henry F. Gilbert, Charles Griffes, Charles Ives, Edward MacDowell and Ethelbert Nevin)

    1990

    Songs of America

    (William Bolcom, Charles Wakefield Cadman, Elliott Carter, Aaron Copland, Ruth Crawford Seeger, Stephen Foster, Charles Ives, Carrie Jacobs-Bond, Sergius Kagen, Theodore Roethke, Ned Rorem, Carl Sandburg, William Jay Smith and Gertrude Stein)

    1988

    An Old Song Resung

    (Charles Wakefield Cadman, Arthur Farwell, Charles Ives and Charles Griffes)

    1980

    Paul Robeson - The Complete EMI Sessions

    (Charles Wakefield Cadman, Henry Burleigh, Benjamin Carr, Will Marion Cook, Stephen Foster, Langston Hughes, Carrie Jacobs-Bond, Ethelbert Nevin, Oscar Rasbach and Oley Speaks)

    1938

    Sheet Music

    IMSLP: Charles Wakefield Cadman Sheet Music

    Find via IMSLP

    Charles Wakefield Cadman Sheet Music

    Buy via Classical Vocal Reprints

    'Four American Indian Songs,' Op. 45 (High Voice)

    Composer(s): Charles Wakefield Cadman

    Song(s): 1. From the Land of the Sky-Blue Water
    2. The White Dawn is Stealing
    3. Far Off I Hear a Lover's Flute
    4. The Moon Drops Low

    Voice Type: High

    Buy via Classical Vocal Reprints

    'Four American Indian Songs,' Op. 45 (Low Voice)

    Composer(s): Charles Wakefield Cadman

    Song(s): 1. From the Land of the Sky-Blue Water
    2. The White Dawn is Stealing
    3. Far Off I Hear a Lover's Flute
    4. The Moon Drops Low

    Voice Type: Low

    Buy via Classical Vocal Reprints

    Idyls of the South Sea, Op. 55 (High Key)

    Composer(s): Charles Wakefield Cadman

    Song(s): 1. Where the Long White Waterfall (Love Song)
    . The Great Wind Shakes the Breadfruit Leaf (Ghost Song)
    3. The Rainbow Waters Whisper (Canoe Song)
    4. Withered is the Green Palm (Death Song)

    Voice Type: High

    Buy via Recital Publications

    Idyls of the South Sea, Op. 55 (Medium Key)

    Composer(s): Charles Wakefield Cadman

    Song(s): 1. Where the Long White Waterfall (Love Song)
    . The Great Wind Shakes the Breadfruit Leaf (Ghost Song)
    3. The Rainbow Waters Whisper (Canoe Song)
    4. Withered is the Green Palm (Death Song)

    Voice Type: Medium

    Buy via Recital Publications

    3 Songs to Odysseus, Op. 50 (High Key)

    Composer(s): Charles Wakefield Cadman

    Song(s): 1. Welcome, Within My Shining Portals (Circe's Song)
    2. Leave Not This Sea-encircled Isle (Calypso's Song)
    3. Thou Wouldst Not Stay (Nausicaä's Song)

    Voice Type: High

    Buy via Recital Publications

    3 Songs to Odysseus, Op. 50 (Medium Key)

    Composer(s): Charles Wakefield Cadman

    Song(s): 1. Welcome, Within My Shining Portals (Circe's Song)
    2. Leave Not This Sea-encircled Isle (Calypso's Song)
    3. Thou Wouldst Not Stay (Nausicaä's Song)

    Voice Type: Medium

    Buy via Recital Publications

    Album of Songs (Cadman), High Voice

    Composer(s): Charles Wakefield Cadman

    Voice Type: High

    Buy via Classical Vocal Reprints

    Album of Songs (Cadman), Medium Voice

    Composer(s): Charles Wakefield Cadman

    Voice Type: Medium

    Buy via Classical Vocal Reprints

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