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Edward Alexander MacDowell
1861 - 1908


He was the First Americana to
Achieve Recognition as a Composer in Europe


Edward Alexander MacDowell devoted his life to the teaching, playing and composing of music. As a boy he showed an extraordinary talent and was encouraged by his parents to become a concert pianist. ■ MacDowell was born December 18, 1861, in New York City. His father was a successful businessman of Scottish ancestry. At age 15 he was sent to Paris to study music and remained in Europe for more than a decade. During that time he studied under the best musicians and teachers of the time in both Germany and France. ■ He established himself in Germany as a piano teacher and composer. His First Modern Suite and First Piano Concerto were played before composer Franz Liszt who recommended that MacDowell's work be published. ■ He returned to the U.S. and settled in Boston in 1888 where he continued composing music while teaching as well. In 1896 he took charge of Columbia University's new department of music. He had differences with Nicholas Murray Butler, the new university president who wanted to reorganize the music department. MacDowell resigned as a result of these difficulties. He continued with his composing and teaching until his death January 23, 1908 in New York. ■ MacDowell's place in American music is unique. He was the first American to achieve recognition in Europe as a composer with individuality and unusual merit. ■ Although he tried to avoid typical American themes, i.e. Indian and Negro styles, the American temperament and environment became apparent in his works like Sea Pieces, Woodland Sketches, and New England Idyls. ■ MacDowell's music was still popular in the mid-20th century and though styles change, he remains one of America's immortals in music.
 

Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Illinois Saint Andrew Society
Scottish-American History Club
2800 Des Plaines Avenue
North Riverside, IL 60546

2014