George Whitefield Chadwick

George Whitefield Chadwick was a composer, teacher, conductor, and organist. His compositional output spans nearly every genre including opera, chamber music, choral works, songs, and perhaps most notably, orchestral music. While Chadwick’s compositions reflect the influence of the German romantic tradition, his music also demonstrates his affinity for thematic traits that are distinctly American.

--New England Conservatory

Photo: George Whitefield Chadwick, between 1890 and 1910, courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Print This Page


George Wakefield Chadwick was the principal composer of the Second New England School, whose members also included John Knowles Paine, Horatio Parker, and Amy Marcy Beach. Chadwick taught several generations of American musicians at the New England Conservatory, and came to be regarded as the standard-bearer of the Yankee academic tradition in music.

Born in Lowell, Massachusetts on November 13, 1854, Chadwick studied organ with his older brother and used his earnings as an organist to finance the musical studies that his father opposed. After leaving high school in 1872, he clerked for a brief time in his father’s insurance office while studying with Dudley Buck and Eugene Thayer at the New England Conservatory. Upon graduation in 1876 he accepted an appointment as a music instructor at Olivet College in Michigan, and presented a paper at the founding meeting of the Music Teachers National Association. In 1877 Chadwick embarked on the pilgrimage that was considered de rigueur for American musicians: he sailed for Germany to study in Leipzig and Munich with such famous pedagogues as Josef Rheinberger. His Rip Van Winkle overture, composed abroad to an American theme, won him some early notice, and before returning to the States in 1880 he tasted a bit of the Bohemian life by tramping the Continent with a group of avant-garde artists and writers called the Duveneck Boys. From 1877 to his appointment to the Directorship of the New England Conservatory in 1897, Chadwick built his career as a Boston teacher, organist, and composer. Among his celebrated pupils were Horatio Parker (who in turn taught Charles Ives), Daniel Gregory Mason, and Frederick Shepherd Converse. Chadwick’s compositional style has been dubbed “Boston Classicism.” Though there is a distinct academic foundation to his music, his works also reflect a certain Yankee bluntness and retain the hints of his colorful vagabond days. In his mature period, to which his powerful verismo opera The Padrone, and his lyric drama Judith, belong, Chadwick’s music makes significant strides in freeing the American idiom from the German conservatory style. Chadwick made use of Anglo-American psalmody and folk idioms in his symphonic compositions. His 137 songs for solo voice and piano reflect a deep-seated interest in contemporary poetry in a Romantic vein. Among his best known settings are two cycles by Boston poet Arlo Bates: A Flower Cycle and Told in the Gate.

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

Photo: Digital ID: cph 3c19834 Source: b&w film copy neg. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-119834 (b&w film copy neg.) Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Related Information



George Whitefield Chadwick: Songs

(George Whitefield Chadwick)

Bird Songs at Eventide

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


Sure on This Shining Night

(Samuel Barber, George Whitefield Chadwick, Charles Ives, John Corigliano, Aaron Copland, William Bolcom, Ned Rorem, Richard Hageman, Charles Griffes, Victor Herbert, Horatio Parker, John Musto, Amy Marcy Beach, Theodore Chanler and Virgil Thomson)


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)



Sheet Music

IMSLP: George Whitefield Chadwick Sheet Music

Find via IMSLP

George Whitefield Chadwick Sheet Music

Buy via Classical Vocal Reprints

"Lyrics from 'Told in the Gate'"

Composer(s): George Whitefield Chadwick

Free Sheet Music on IMSLP

Support us and help us grow

Dear friends, Thank you for helping us build a comprehensive online archive of American song. Your gift is greatly appreciated.