Edward MacDowell

Edward MacDowell was one of the most celebrated American composers of the nineteenth century. His compositions won the approval of music critics, in Europe and the United States, and of contemporaries, including composers such as Franz Liszt and Joachim Raff. MacDowell's early works bear the influence of his training in Germany, reflecting European styles and cultures; his later compositions evoke the American landscape, from its physical beauty to Native American themes.

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About

America’s first internationally recognized composer, Edward MacDowell was born into a Quaker family of Scottish descent on December 18, 1861. As a child he studied piano, before going abroad in 1876 to Paris, then on to Germany, where he found a sympathetic spiritual home. Like his compatriots Paine, Chadwick, Griffes, and Farwell, who also made the German pilgrimage, MacDowell immersed himself in not only advanced counterpoint and harmony, but also in the entire Romantic ethos. Imbibing from the stream of German folklore, poring over the great Romantic writers from Goethe and Schiller to Heine, Geibel, and Lenau, and listening to the music of Brahms, Wagner, Liszt, Schumann and Wolf, MacDowell endeavored to compose symphonic and vocal works in the European mode. His early German songs, Opus 11 and 12, hold their own next to those by his European contemporaries. So, too, does his first Piano Concerto (1885), which won him praise from none other than Franz Liszt, for whom he played it at Weimar. It continued to gain him recognition when he performed it with the Boston Symphony upon his return to the U.S. in 1888.

For the next 18 years MacDowell built a career as a respected teacher (at Columbia University from 1896 to 1904) and composer. His symphonic music resonates with poetical suggestion, often uses programmatic titles to evoke moods, and displays an affinity for folk-based elements, among them an interest in Native American melody. The 42 solo songs with which he endowed the repertoire demonstrate a passion not only for the German Romantics but also for the texts of his Scots precursor Robert Burns and for the English and French Romantics. In 1895 MacDowell founded an artistic colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire, which remains today a mecca for artists seeking a stimulating and reflective environment for creative work.

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

Photo: Edward Alexander MacDowell, head-and-shoulders portrait, seated, facing right, between 1890 and 1908. Prints and Photographs Reading Room, Library of Congress.

Related Information

Songs

A Maid Sings Light (op. 56, no. 3)

Edward MacDowell

Edward MacDowell

Song Collection: Four Songs, Op. 56

As the Gloaming Shadows Creep (op. 56, no. 4)

Edward MacDowell

Edward MacDowell

Song Collection: Four Songs, Op. 56

Constancy (op. 58, no. 1)

Edward MacDowell

Edward MacDowell

Song Collection: Three Songs, Op. 58

Eight Songs, Op. 47

Song Collection

Edward MacDowell

Edward MacDowell

William Dean Howells

Fair Springtide

Edward MacDowell

Edward MacDowell

Song Collection: Three Songs, Op. 60

Folksong

Edward MacDowell

William Dean Howells

Song Collection: Eight Songs, Op. 47

For Sweet Love's Sake

Edward MacDowell

William Henry Gardner

Song Collection: Six Love Songs, Op. 40

Four Songs, Op. 56

Song Collection

Edward MacDowell

Edward MacDowell

I Ask But This

Edward MacDowell

William Henry Gardner

Song Collection: Six Love Songs, Op. 40

Long Ago (op. 56, no. 1)

Edward MacDowell

Edward MacDowell

Song Collection: Four Songs, Op. 56

Merry Maiden Spring (op. 58, no. 3)

Edward MacDowell

Edward MacDowell

Song Collection: Three Songs, Op. 58

O Lovely Rose

Edward MacDowell

William Henry Gardner

Song Collection: Six Love Songs, Op. 40

Six Love Songs, Op. 40

Song Collection

Edward MacDowell

William Henry Gardner

Sunrise (op. 58, no. 2)

Edward MacDowell

Edward MacDowell

Song Collection: Three Songs, Op. 58

Sweet Blue-Eyed Maid

Edward MacDowell

William Henry Gardner

Song Collection: Six Love Songs, Op. 40

Sweetheart Tell Me

Edward MacDowell

William Henry Gardner

Song Collection: Six Love Songs, Op. 40

The Robin Sings in the Apple-Tree

Edward MacDowell

Edward MacDowell

Song Collection: Eight Songs, Op. 47

The Sea

Edward MacDowell

William Dean Howells

Song Collection: Eight Songs, Op. 47

The Swan Bent Low to the Lily (op. 56, no. 2)

Edward MacDowell

Edward MacDowell

Song Collection: Four Songs, Op. 56

The West-Wind Croons in the Cedar-Trees

Edward MacDowell

Edward MacDowell

Song Collection: Eight Songs, Op. 47

Three Songs, Op. 58

Song Collection

Edward MacDowell

Edward MacDowell

Three Songs, Op. 60

Song Collection

Edward MacDowell

Edward MacDowell

Through the Meadow

Edward MacDowell

William Dean Howells

Song Collection: Eight Songs, Op. 47

To the Goldenrod

Edward MacDowell

Edward MacDowell

Song Collection: Three Songs, Op. 60

Thy Beaming Eyes

Edward MacDowell

William Henry Gardner

Song Collection: Six Love Songs, Op. 40

Tyrant Love

Edward MacDowell

Edward MacDowell

Song Collection: Three Songs, Op. 60

Videos

Recordings

Wondrous Free

(Leonard Bernstein, Paul Bowles, John Alden Carpenter, John Woods Duke, Stephen Foster, Sidney Homer, Francis Hopkinson, Charles Ives, Edward MacDowell, William Grant Still, Traditional and Elinor Remick Warren)

2009

Dvořák und seine Zeit

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

2004

I Hear America Singing

(Ernst Bacon, Jean Berger, Paul Bowles, Henry Burleigh, Stephen Foster, Ernest Gold, Charles Griffes, Richard Hageman, Sergius Kagen, Charles Martin Loeffler, Edward MacDowell, Charles Naginski, John Jacob Niles, Hermann Reutter, Frédéric Louis Ritter, Ned Rorem, William Grant Still, Hugo Weisgall and Tennessee Williams)

2001

MacDowell: Complete Songs

(Edward MacDowell)

1999

Alma Gluck

(Margaret Ruthven Lang, Edward MacDowell and Charles Gilbert Spross)

1997

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

Books

Edward MacDowell: An American Master

By Alan H. Levy

Random Notes on Edward MacDowell & His Music

By Marian MacDowell

Critical and Historical Essays: Lectures Delivered at Columbia University

By Edward MacDowell

Edward MacDowell: A Study

By Lawrence Gilman

Audio

Track:

    Sheet Music

    Eight Songs, Op. 47 (medium voice)

    Composer(s): Edward MacDowell

    Voice Type: Medium

    Buy via Classical Vocal Reprints

    Eight Songs, Op. 47 (low voice)

    Composer(s): Edward MacDowell

    Voice Type: Low

    Buy via Classical Vocal Reprints

    Eight Songs, Op. 47 (low voice)

    Composer(s): Edward MacDowell

    Voice Type: Low

    Find at your Local Library

    Four Songs, Op. 56 (high voice)

    Composer(s): Edward MacDowell

    Song(s): Long Ago (op. 56, no. 1)
    The Swan Bent Low to the Lily (op. 56, no. 2)
    A Maid Sings Light (op. 56, no. 3)
    As the Gloaming Shadows Creep (op. 56, no. 4)

    Voice Type: High

    Buy via Classical Vocal Reprints

    Four Songs, Op. 56 (high voice)

    Composer(s): Edward MacDowell

    Song(s): Long Ago (op. 56, no. 1)
    The Swan Bent Low to the Lily (op. 56, no. 2)
    A Maid Sings Light (op. 56, no. 3)
    As the Gloaming Shadows Creep (op. 56, no. 4)

    Voice Type: High

    Find at your Local Library

    Four Songs, Op. 56 (low voice)

    Composer(s): Edward MacDowell

    Song(s): Long Ago (op. 56, no. 1)
    The Swan Bent Low to the Lily (op. 56, no. 2)
    A Maid Sings Light (op. 56, no. 3)
    As the Gloaming Shadows Creep (op. 56, no. 4)

    Voice Type: Low

    Buy via Classical Vocal Reprints

    Six Love Songs, Op. 40

    Composer(s): Edward MacDowell

    Buy via Classical Vocal Reprints

    Six Love Songs, Op. 40

    Composer(s): Edward MacDowell

    Find at your Local Library

    The First Book of Soprano Solos

    Composer(s): Louis Campbell-Tipton, Samuel Barber, Edward MacDowell, Oley Speaks

    Buy via Sheet Music Plus

    Three Songs, Op. 58

    Composer(s): Edward MacDowell

    Song(s): Constancy (op. 58, no. 1)
    Sunrise (op. 58, no. 2)
    Merry Maiden Spring (op. 58, no. 3)

    Buy via Classical Vocal Reprints

    Three Songs, Op. 60

    Composer(s): Edward MacDowell

    Song(s): Tyrant Love
    Fair Springtide
    To the Goldenrod

    Buy via Classical Vocal Reprints

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