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Ver Good for an American

Essays on Edward MacDowell

June 1, 2017



ISBN: 978-1-57647-305-4


Purchase on Boydell & Brewer


This collection of essays explores topics of relevance to understanding MacDowell and his music. The methodologies range from archival research to musical analysis, drawing on holograph sketches and manuscripts, interviews, archival photographs, contemporary press reports, and other sources. At the height of his career, MacDowell was widely recognized as America’s leading composer. He had come of age during an era when the infrastructure of concert music in the United States was expanding rapidly, as outlined in Javier Albo’s description of historical concerts in New York during his childhood. MacDowell came from an unusual background that resulted from the interaction between his father’s Quaker roots, described in Douglas Bomberger’s paper, and his mother’s ambitious goals, described in Margery Lowens’s paper. He benefited from the early advocacy of his mother’s best friend, the Venezuelan pianist Teresa Carreńo, whose support of MacDowell is explored in Laura Pita’s paper. He studied for two years in Paris and then spent a decade in Germany, studying with Liszt’s pupil Raff and establishing his career. Brian Mann analyzes the early drafts of his Piano Concerto No. 2, which was written in Germany but premiered in 1889, after his return to the United States. The crucial influences of Wagner and Liszt on MacDowell’s developing style are explored in papers by Francis Brancaleone and John Graziano. He lived in Boston from 1888 to 1896, during which time he was in close contact with George Whitefield Chadwick, an American contemporary whose works are examined in papers by Marianne Betz and Charles Freeman.