Macdowell, Edward

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus.

MacDowell, Edward (Alexander)

(1860–1908) composer; born in New York City. He studied in France and Germany and taught piano at the Darmstadt Conservatory, where he became a protégé of Liszt. Returning to the U.S.A in 1888, he lived and worked in Boston and then headed Columbia University's new department of music (1896–1904). While his music is essentially European-Romantic, he also flirted with American nationalistic materials in works such as the Indian Suite (1895). The most popular American composer of his era, he succeeded both in ambitious works, such as the Piano Concerto No. 2 (1889), and in parlor pieces for piano, such as the Woodland Sketches (1896). His widow established the MacDowell Colony at their farm in Peterborough, N.H., to serve as a summer residence for artists in various fields.

Macdowell, Edward


Born Dec. 18, 1861, in New York; died there Jan. 31, 1908. American composer and pianist of Scottish origin.

MacDowell studied piano under T. Carreüo in the USA and A. F. Marmontel in France, and composition under J. Raff in Germany. MacDowell’s creative personality was formed by the musical and literary traditions of German romanticism. In 1888 he moved to Boston, where he appeared in concerts of his own works as a pianist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. From 1896 to 1904, MacDowell was chairman and a professor of the department of music at Columbia University (New York), the first such institution in the USA to have such a department.

MacDowell was the first American composer to make use of Indian folklore (Second “Indian” Suite and other works). He sought to capture in music the specific traits of the American character and culture (program piano pieces and songs to the words of American poets) and the romance of the American outdoors. Short piano and vocal pieces of a lyrical character occupy the most important place in his creative work. He was attracted to program music (Tragica, Eroica, Norse, and Keltic sonatas, 1893-1901; three symphonic poems, and other works). MacDowell’s works have a lyrical, melodious character and are distinguished by a colorful harmony that is similar to that of E. Grieg and the early C. Debussy. Among his other compositions are two piano concerti, etudes, nearly 40 songs, and piano arrangements of orchestral compositions of A. P. Borodin and N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov. MacDowell greatly admired the works of Russian composers, especially P. I. Tchaikovsky.


Konen, V. “Edvard Mak Douell.” Sovetskaia muzyka, 1958, no. 9, pp. 81-86.