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Gilman, Lawrence / Edward MacDowell
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A Study



Author of _Phases of Modern Music_; _The Music of Tomorrow_; _Stories
of Symphonic Music_; _A Guide to Strauss' "Salome"_; _Debussy's
"Pelléas el Melisande": A Guide to the Opera_; _Aspects of Modern
Opera_; etc.

London: John Lane, The Bodley Head
New York: John Lane Company


[Illustration: Edward MacDowell]



This study is based upon the monograph on MacDowell which I
contributed in 1905 to the "Living Masters of Music" series. That
book could not, of course, remain in the series after the death of
MacDowell three years later; it was therefore taken from its place
and used as a foundation for the present volume, which supersedes it
in every respect. The biographical portion is almost wholly new, and
has been greatly enlarged, while the chapters dealing with
MacDowell's music have been revised and extended.

In completing this survey of one who in his art is still of to-day, I
have been poignantly conscious throughout of the fact that posterity
has an inconvenient habit of reversing the judgments delivered upon
creative artists by their contemporaries; yet to trim deftly one's
convictions in the hope that they may elastically conform to any one
of a number of possible verdicts to be expected from a capricious
futurity, is probably as dangerous a proceeding as to avow, without
equivocation or compromise, one's precise beliefs. It will therefore
be understood that the critical estimates which are offered in the
following pages have been set down with deliberation.

I desire to acknowledge gratefully the assistance which I have
received from various sources: Primarily, from Mrs. Edward MacDowell,
who has rendered help of an indispensable kind; from Mr. Henry T.
Finck, who furnished me with his views and recollections of MacDowell
as a pianist; and from reminiscences and impressions contributed by
Mr. W.H. Humiston, Miss J.S. Watson, and Mr. T.P. Currier--pupils and
friends of MacDowell--to _The Musician_, and by Mr. William Armstrong
to _The Étude_, parts of which I have been privileged to quote.
MacDowell wrote surprisingly few letters, and comparatively little of
his correspondence is of intrinsic or general interest. I am indebted
to Mr. N.J. Corey for permission to quote from several in his
possession; while for the use of letters written to MacDowell and his
wife by Liszt and Grieg my thanks are due to Mrs. MacDowell.


September 18, 1908.

















From a sketch drawn by himself





From a photograph taken at Wiesbaden in 1888










... we grow immortal,
And that ... harp awakens of itself
To cry aloud to the grey birds; and dreams,
That have had dreams for fathers, live in us.

--_The Shadowy Waters._




Edward MacDowell, the first Celtic voice that has spoken commandingly
out of musical art, achieved that priority through natural if not
inevitable processes. Both his grandfather and grandmother on his
father's side were born in Ireland, of Irish-Scotch parents. To his
paternal great-grandfather, Alexander MacDowell, the composer traced
the Scottish element in his blood; his paternal great-grandmother,
whose maiden name was Ann McMurran, was born near Belfast, Ireland.
Their son, Alexander, born in Belfast, came to America early in the
last century and settled in New York, where he married a countrywoman,
Sarah Thompson, whom he met after his arrival in the New World. A son,
Thomas (Edward's father), was born to them in New York--where, until
his retirement some time ago, he was engaged in business for many
years. He married in 1856 Frances M. Knapp, a young American woman of
English antecedents. Five years later, on December 18, 1861, their
third son, Edward Alexander (he discarded the middle name toward the
end of his life), was born at 220 Clinton Street, New York--a
neighbourhood which has since suffered the deterioration common to
many of what were once among the town's most irreproachable
residential districts.

From his father, a man of genuine aesthetic instincts, Edward derived
his artistic tendencies and his Celtic sensitiveness of temperament,
together with the pictorial instinct which was later to compete with
his musical ability for decisive recognition; for the elder MacDowell
displayed in his youth a facility as painter and draughtsman which his
parents, who were Quakers of a devout and sufficiently uncompromising
order, discouraged in no uncertain terms. The exercise of his own gift
being thus restrained, Thomas MacDowell passed it on to his younger
son--a somewhat superfluous endowment, in view of the fact that the
latter was to demonstrate so ample a gift for an equally effective
medium of expression.

(From a Sketch drawn by Himself)]

Edward had his first piano lessons, when he was about eight years
old, from a friend of the family, Mr. Juan Buitrago, a native of
Bogota, Colombia, and an accomplished musician. Mr. Buitrago was
greatly interested in the boy, and had asked to be permitted to teach
him his notes. Their piano practice at this time was subject to
frequent interruptions; for when strict supervision was not exercised
over his work, Edward was prone to indulge at the keyboard a fondness
for composition which had developed concurrently with, and somewhat
at the expense of, his proficiency in piano technique. He was not a
prodigy, nor was he in the least precocious, though his gifts were as
evident as they were various. He was not fond of drudgery at the
keyboard, and he lacked the miraculous aptness at acquirement which
belongs to the true prodigy. He was unusual chiefly by reason of the
versatility of his gifts. His juvenile exercises in composition were
varied by an apt use of the pencil and the sketching board. He liked
to cover his music books and his exercises with drawings that showed
both the observing eye and the naturally skilful hand of the born
artist. Nor did music and drawing form a sufficient outlet for his
impulse toward expression. He scribbled a good deal in prose and
verse, and was fond of devising fairy tales, which were written not
without a hint of the imaginative faculty which seems always to have
been his possession.

He continued his lessons with Mr. Buitrago for several years, when he
was taken to a professional piano teacher, Paul Desvernine, with whom
he studied until he was fifteen. He received, too, at this time,
occasional supplementary lessons from the brilliant Venezuelan,
Teresa Carreño. When he was in his fifteenth year it was determined
that he should go abroad for a course in piano and theory at the
Paris Conservatory, and in April, 1876, accompanied by his mother, he
left America for France. He passed the competitive examination for
admission to the Conservatory, and began the Autumn term as a pupil
of Marmontel in piano and of Savard in theory and composition--having
for a fellow pupil, by the way, that most remarkable of contemporary
music-makers, Claude Debussy, whom MacDowell described as having
been, even then, a youth of erratic and non-conformist tendencies.

MacDowell's experiences at the Conservatory were not unmixed with
perplexities and embarrassment. His knowledge of French was far from
secure, and he had considerable difficulty in following Savard's
lectures. It was decided, therefore, that he should have a course of
tuition in the language. A teacher was engaged, and Edward began a
resolute attack upon the linguistic _chevaux de frise_ which had
proved so troublesome an impediment--a move which brought him,
unexpectedly enough, to an important crisis in his affairs.

On one occasion it happened that, during these lessons in French, he
was varying the monotony of a study hour by drawing, under cover of
his lesson-book, a portrait of his teacher, whose most striking
physical characteristic was a nose of extravagant bulk. He was
detected just as he was completing the sketch, and was asked, much to
his confusion, to exhibit the result. It appears to have been a
remarkable piece of work as well as an excellent likeness, for the
subject of it was eager to know whether or not MacDowell had studied
drawing, and, if not, how he acquired his proficiency. Moreover, he
insisted on keeping the sketch. Not long after, he called upon Mrs.
MacDowell and told her, to her astonishment, that he had shown the
sketch to a certain very eminent painter--an instructor at the École
de Beaux Arts--and that the painter had been so much impressed by the
talent which it evidenced that he begged to propose to Mrs. MacDowell
that she submit her son to him for a three-years' course of free
instruction under his personal supervision, offering also to be
responsible for his support during that time. The issue was a
momentous one, and Mrs. MacDowell, in much perplexity of mind as to
the wisest settlement of her son's future, laid the matter before
Marmontel, who, fearful of losing one of his aptest pupils, urgently
advised her against diverting her son from a musical career. The
decision was finally left to MacDowell, and it was agreed that he
should continue his studies at the Conservatory. Although it seems
not unlikely that, with his natural facility as a painter and
draughtsman and his uncommon faculties of vision and imagination, he
would have achieved distinction as a painter, it may be questioned
whether in that case music would not have lost appreciably more than
art would have gained.

Conditions at the Conservatory were not to the taste of MacDowell,
for he found his notions of right artistic procedure frequently
opposed to those that prevailed among his teachers and fellow
students. His growing disaffection was brought to a head during the
summer of 1878. It was the year of the Exposition, and MacDowell and
his mother attended a festival concert at which Nicholas Rubinstein
played in memorable style Tchaikovsky's B-flat minor piano concerto.
His performance was a revelation to the young American. "I never can
learn to play like that if I stay here," he said resolutely to his
mother, as they left the concert hall. Mrs. MacDowell, whose fixed
principle it was to permit her son to decide his affairs according to
his lights, thereupon considered with him the merits of various
European Conservatories of reputation. They thought of Moscow,
because of Nicholas Rubinstein's connection with the Conservatory
there. Leipsic suggested itself; Frankfort was strongly recommended,
and Stuttgart seemed to offer conspicuous advantages. The latter
place was finally determined upon, and Mrs. MacDowell and her son
went there from Paris at Thanksgiving time, having agreed that the
famous Stuttgart Conservatory would yield the desired sort of

The choice was scarcely a happy one. It did not take MacDowell long
to realise that, if he expected to conform to the Stuttgart
requirements, he would be compelled to unlearn all that he had
already acquired--would have virtually, so far as his technique was
concerned, to begin _de novo_. Rubinstein himself, MacDowell was told
by one of the students, would have had to reform his pianistic
manners if he had placed himself under the guidance of the Stuttgart
pedagogues. Nor does the system of instruction then in effect at the
Conservatory appear to have been thorough even within its own sphere.
MacDowell used to tell of a student who could play an ascending scale
superlatively well, but who was helpless before the problem of
playing the same scale in its descending form.

His mother, disheartened over the failure of Stuttgart to justify her
expectations, was at a loss how best to solve the problem of her
son's immediate future. Having heard much of the ability of Carl
Heymann, the pianist, as an instructor, Mrs. MacDowell thought of the
Frankfort Conservatory, of which Joachim Raff was the head, and where
Heymann would be available as a teacher.

She learned from a friend, to whom she had written for advice, that
the pianist had promised soon to visit her at her home in Wiesbaden,
and it was suggested that the MacDowells pay her a visit at the same
time, and thus benefit by the opportunity of becoming acquainted with
Heymann. Mrs. MacDowell and her son were not slow to avail themselves
of this proposal, and the end of the year 1878 found them in
Wiesbaden. Here they met Heymann, who had just concluded a
triumphantly successful _tournée_ of the European capitals. They
heard him play, and were impressed by his mastery and poetic feeling.
Heymann was not, however, to begin teaching at the Frankfort
Conservatory until the following autumn, so MacDowell remained in
Wiesbaden, studying composition and theory with the distinguished
critic and teacher, Louis Ehlert, while his mother returned to


"Ehlert," MacDowell has written, "was very kind to me, and when I
asked him for 'lessons' he refused flatly, but said he would be glad
for us to 'study together,' as he put it. This rather staggered me,
as my idea in leaving Paris was to get a severe and regenerating
overhauling. I worked hard all winter, however, and heard lots of new
music at the _Cur Haus_, which was like manna in the desert after my
long French famine. Ehlert, who thought that Heymann was not the man
for me, spoke and wrote to Von Bulow about me; but the latter,
without even having seen me, wrote Ehlert a most insulting letter,
asking how Ehlert dared 'to propose such a silly thing' to him; that
he was not a music teacher, and could not waste his time on an
American boy, anyway. So, after all, I went to Frankfort and entered
the conservatory." MacDowell's first interview with Raff, in the
autumn of 1879, was, as he relates, "not promising." "Heymann took me
to him and told him, among other things, that, having studied for
several years the 'French School' of composition, I wished to study
in Germany. Raff immediately flared up and declared that there was no
such thing nowadays as 'schools'--that music was eclectic nowadays;
that if some French writers wrote flimsy music it arose simply from
flimsy attainments, and such stuff could never form a 'school.'
German and other writers were to be criticised from the same
standpoint--their music was bad, middling, or good; but there was no
such thing as cramping it into 'schools' nowadays, when all national
musical traits were common property."

MacDowell remained in the Conservatory for two years, studying
composition with Raff and piano with Heymann. His stay there was
eminently satisfactory and profitable to himself. He found both Raff
and Heymann artistic mentors of an inspiring kind; in Raff,
particularly, he encountered a most sympathetic and encouraging
preceptor, and an influence at once potent and engrossing--a force
which was to direct the currents of his own temperament into definite
artistic channels.

For Heymann as a pianist MacDowell had a fervent admiration. He spoke
of him as "a marvel," whose technique "seemed mysteriously capable of
anything." "When I went to him," MacDowell has said, "I had already
transposed most of the fugues and preludes of Bach (Paris ideas of
'thoroughness'!) and had gone through much rough technical work.
Heymann let me do what I wanted; but in hearing him practise and play
I learned more in a week than I ever had before." When Heymann, who
had already begun to show symptoms of the mental disorder which
ultimately overcame him, left the Conservatory in 1881, he
recommended MacDowell as his successor--a proposal which was
cordially seconded by Raff. But there were antagonistic influences at
work within the Conservatory. MacDowell's candidacy was opposed by
certain of the professors, on account, it was said, of his "youth";
but also, doubtless, because of the advocacy of Heymann, who was not
popular with his colleagues; for he dared, MacDowell has said, "to
play the classics as if they had been written by men with blood in
their veins." So MacDowell failed to get the appointment. He
continued, unofficially, as a pupil of Heymann, and went to him
constantly for criticism and advice.

MacDowell began at this time to take private pupils, and one of these
pupils, an American, Miss Marian Nevins, was later to become his
wife. He was then living in lodgings kept by a venerable German
spinster who was the daughter of one of Napoleon's officers. She was
very fond of her young lodger, and through her he became acquainted
with the work of Erckmann-Chartrian, whose tales deeply engrossed him
at this time. Later he moved to the Café Milani, on the Zeil, at that
time an institution of considerable celebrity. As a teacher he made a
rather prominent place for himself; the recommendation of Raff--who
had said to one of MacDowell's pupils that he expected "great things"
of him--had helped at the start, and his personality counted for not
a little. His appearance at this time (he was then nineteen years
old) is described as having been strikingly unlike that of the
typical American as known in Germany. "His keen and very blue eyes,
his pink and white skin, reddish mustache and imperial and jet black
hair, brushed straight up in the prevalent German fashion, caused him
to be known as 'the handsome American.'" Teaching at that time must
have been a sore trial to him. He was, as he continued to be
throughout his life, painfully shy; yet he seems, strangely enough,
to have had, even then, the knack for imparting instruction, for
quickening the interest and stimulating the enthusiasm of those who
came under his guidance, which in later years made him so remarkable
a teacher.

In 1881 MacDowell applied for the vacant position of head piano
teacher at the Conservatory in the neighbouring town of Darmstadt,
and was engaged. He found it an arduous and not too profitable post.
He has described it as "a dreary town, where the pupils studied music
with true German placidity." They procured all their music from a
circulating library, where the choice of novelties was limited to
late editions of the classics and a good deal of sheer trash, poor
dance music and the like. His work, which was unmitigated drudgery,
consumed forty hours a week. For a time he took up his quarters in
Darmstadt; but he missed the attractions of Frankfort; so throughout
his term he travelled on the railroad twice daily between the two
towns. In addition to his regular work at the Conservatory, he
undertook private lessons, going by train once a week to the
Erbach-Fürstenau castle at Erbach-Fürstenau, a wearisome three-hour
journey. The castle was a mediæval _Schloss_, with a drawbridge and
moat. There his pupils were little counts and countesses,
discouragingly dull and sleepy children who spoke only German and
Latin, and who had the smallest interest in music. MacDowell gave
them lessons in harmony as well as piano-playing, and one day, in the
middle of an elaborately simplified exposition of some rudimentary
point, he heard a gentle noise, looked around from the piano, and
discovered his noble young pupils with their heads on their arms,
fast asleep. MacDowell could never remember their different titles,
and ended by addressing them simply as "mademoiselle" and "monsieur,"
to the annoyance of the stern and ceremonious old châtelaine, the
Baroness of Rodenberg.

The twelve hours a week which he spent in railway travelling were
not, though, wholly unprofitable, for he was able to compose on the
train the greater part of his second "Modern Suite" for piano (op.
14). This was the second of his compositions which he considered
worthy of preservation, its predecessor being the "First Modern
Suite," written the year before in Frankfort. Much other music had
already found its way upon paper, had been tried in the unsparing
fire of his criticism, which was even then vigorous and searching,
and had been marked for destruction--a symphony, among other efforts.
His reading at this time was of engrossing interest to him. He was
absorbed in the German poets; Goethe and Heine, whom he was now able
to read with ease in the original German, he knew by heart--a
devotion which was to find expression a few years later in his
"Idyls" and "Poems" (op. 28 and 31). He had begun also to read the
English poets. He devoured Byron and Shelley; and in Tennyson's
"Idyls of the King" he found the spark which kindled his especial
love for mediæval lore and poetry. Yet while he was enamored of the
imaginative records of the Middle Ages, he had little interest, oddly
enough, in their tangible remains. He liked, for example, to summon a
vision of the valley of the Rhone, with its slow-moving human streams
flowing between Italy and the North, and with Sion still looking down
from its heights, where the bishops had been lords rather than
priests. But this was for him a purely imaginative enchantment. He
cared little about exploring the actual and visible memorials of the
past: to confront them as crumbling ruins gave him no pleasure, and,
as he used to say, he "hated the smells." It was this instinct which,
in his visits to the cathedrals, prompted him to stand as far back as
possible while the Mass was being said. To see in the dim distance
the white, pontifical figures moving gravely through the ritual, to
hear the low tones, enthralled and stirred him; but he shrank from
entering the sacristy, with its loud-voiced priests describing
perfunctorily the relics: that was a disillusionment not to be borne


Having found that his labours at Darmstadt were telling upon his
health, MacDowell resigned his position there and returned to
Frankfort. Here he divided his time between his private teaching and
his composition. He was ambitious also to secure some profitable
concert engagements as a pianist. He had made occasional appearances
at orchestral concerts in Wiesbaden, Frankfort, Darmstadt, but these
had yielded him no return save an increase of reputation.

At Raff's instigation he visited Liszt at Weimar in the spring of
1882, armed with his first piano concerto (op. 15). This work he had
just composed under amusing circumstances. One day while he was
sitting aimlessly before his piano there came a knock at his door,
and in walked, to his startled confusion, his master, Raff, of whom
MacDowell stood in unmitigated awe. "The honor," he relates, "simply
overwhelmed me. He looked rather quizzically around at my untidy
room, and said something about the English translation of his
_Welt-Ende_ oratorio (I found out after, alas, that he had wanted me
to copy it in his score for him; but with his inexplicable shyness he
only hinted at it, and I on my side was too utterly and idiotically
overpowered to catch his meaning); then he abruptly asked me what I
had been writing. I, scarcely realising what I was saying, stammered
out that I had a concerto. He walked out on the landing and turned
back, telling me to bring it to him the next Sunday. In desperation,
not having the remotest idea how I was to accomplish such a task, I
worked like a beaver, evolving the music from some ideas upon which I
had planned at some time to base a concerto. Sunday came, and I had
only the first movement composed. I wrote him a note making some
wretched excuse, and he put it off until the Sunday after. Something
happened then, and he put it off two days more; by that time I had
the concerto ready." Except for three lines of passage work in the
first part, the concerto remains to-day precisely as MacDowell
finished it then.

In the event, the visit to Liszt, which he had dreaded, was a
gratifying surprise. That beneficent but formidable personage
received him with kindly courtesy, and had Eugen D'Albert, who was
present, play the orchestral part of the concerto which MacDowell had
brought with him in manuscript, arranged for two pianos. Liszt
listened attentively as the two young musicians played it
through,--not too effectively,--and when they had finished he
commended it in warm terms. "You must bestir yourself," he warned
D'Albert, "if you do not wish to be outdone by our young American";
and he praised the boldness and originality of certain passages in
the music, especially their harmonic treatment.

What was at that time even more cheering to MacDowell, who had not
yet come to regard himself as paramountly a composer, was Liszt's
praise of his piano playing. He returned to Frankfort greatly
encouraged, and he was still further elated to receive soon after a
letter from Liszt in which, referring to the first "Modern Suite,"
which MacDowell had sent to him, the Abbé wrote:

"... Since the foundation of the General Society of German
Musicians, the definitive making up of the programs is entrusted
to me, and I shall be very glad to recommend the execution of
your work.

"Will you be good enough to give to your master, my old friend,
J. Raff, the assurance of my highest esteem and admiration.


"Budapest. April 13, 1882."

(SEE PAGE 18)]

The nineteenth annual convention of the _Allgemeiner Deutscher
Musik-Verein_ was held that year at Zürich, from the 9th to the 12th
of July; and at the fifth concert of the series, on July 11, MacDowell
played his first piano suite. Both the music and his performance of it
were praised. A contemporaneous account speaks of the composer as "an
earnest and modest musician, free from all mannerisms," who "carried
his modesty so far that he played with his notes before him, though he
cannot have felt any particular necessity for having them there." He
"was recalled enthusiastically, and with many bravos, and may be proud
of the success he has achieved." Until then, as MacDowell confessed,
with engaging candour, to Mr. Henry T. Finck, he "had never waked up
to the idea" that his music could be worth actual study or memorising.
"I would not have changed a note in one of them for untold gold, and
_inside_ I had the greatest love for them; but the idea that any one
else might take them seriously had never occurred to me." A year
later, upon Liszt's recommendation, the suite and its successor, the
"Second Modern Suite," op. 14, were published at Leipzig by the famous
house of Breitkopf and Härtel. "Your two pianoforte suites," wrote
Liszt from Budapest, in February of that year, "are admirable. I
accept the dedication of your concerto with sincere pleasure and
thanks." The suites were the first of MacDowell's works to appear in

[1] The "Two Old Songs," which bear an earlier opus number,--9,--were
composed at a much later period--a fact which is betrayed by their

The death of Raff on June 25, 1882, brought to MacDowell his first
profound sorrow. There was a deep attachment between pupil and master,
and MacDowell felt in Raff's death the loss of a sincere friend, and,
as he later came to appreciate, a powerful ally. The influential part
which Raff bore in turning MacDowell's aims definitely and permanently
toward creative rather than pianistic activity could scarcely be
overestimated. When he first went to Paris, and during the later years
in Germany, there had been little serious thought on his part, or on
the part of his family, concerning his composition; his evident talent
for piano-playing had persistently overshadowed his creative gifts,
and had made it seem that his inevitable career was that of a
virtuoso. As he wrote in after years: "I had acquired from early
boyhood the idea that it was expected of me to become a pianist, and
every moment spent in 'scribbling' seemed to be stolen from the more
legitimate work of piano practice." It was Raff--Raff, who said to him
once: "Your music will be played when mine is forgotten"--who opened
his eyes.

The two following years,--from the summer of 1882 till the summer of
1884--were increasingly given over to composition, though MacDowell
continued his private teaching and made a few appearances in concert.
He continued to try his hand at orchestral writing, and in this
pursuit he was greatly favoured by the willingness of the conductors
of the _Cur-Orchesters_ at Baden-Baden, Wiesbaden, and elsewhere, to
"try over" in the rehearsal hour his experiments. His requests for
such a trial reading of his scores were seldom refused, and the
practical training in instrumentation which was afforded by the
experience he always regarded as invaluable. Much that he tested in
this manner was condemned as a result of the illuminating, if
chastening, revelations thus brought about; and almost all of his
orchestral writing which he afterward thought fit to publish received
the benefit of such practical tests.

The music which dates from this period comprises the three songs of
opus 11 ("Mein Liebchen,"[2] "Du liebst mich nicht," "Oben, wo
die Sterne glühen"); the two songs of op. 12 ("Nachtlied" and "Das
Rosenband"); the Prelude and Fugue (op. 13); the second piano suite
(op. 14)--begun in the days of his Darmstadt professorship; the
"Serenade" (op. 16); the two "Fantasiestücke" of op. 17:
"Erzählung" and the much-played "Hexentanz"; the "Barcarolle"
and "Humoreske" of op. 18; and the "Wald-Idyllen" (op. 19):
"Waldesstille," "Spiel der Nymphen," "Träumerei," "Dryadentanz."

[2] I give the German titles under which these compositions were
originally published.

In June, 1884, MacDowell returned to America, and on July 21, at
Waterford, Connecticut, he was married to his former pupil, Miss
Marian Nevins--a union, which, for perfection of sympathy and
closeness of comradeship, was, during the quarter of a century for
which it was to endure, nothing less than ideal. A few days later
MacDowell and his bride sailed from New York for Europe, innocent of
any very definite plans for the immediate future. They visited Exeter
and Bath, and then went to London, where they found lodgings at No. 5,
Woburn Place. There MacDowell's interest in the outer world was
divided between the British Museum, where he found a particular
fascination in the Egyptian and Syrian antiquities, and the
Shakespearian performances of Henry Irving and Ellen Terry. He was
captivated by their performance of "Much Ado About Nothing," and made
a sketch for a symphonic poem which was to be called "Beatrice and
Benedick"--a plan which he finally abandoned. Most of the material
which was to form the symphonic poem went ultimately to the making of
the scherzo of the second piano concerto, composed during the
following year.

Returning to Frankfort, MacDowell and his wife lived for a short time
in a pension in the Praunheimer Strasse, keeping very much to
themselves in two small rooms. Upon their return from a brief
excursion to Paris, they found less restricted quarters in the Hotel
du Nord. In September of this year MacDowell learned of an
advantageous position that had been vacated at the Würzburg
Conservatory, and, assisted by letters from Frau Raff, Marmontel (his
former instructor at the Paris Conservatory), and the violinist
Sauret, he sought the place. But again, as at Frankfort three years
before, his youth was in his disfavour, and he was courteously


The following winter was given over largely to composition. The
two-part symphonic poem, "Hamlet and Ophelia," his first production of
important significance, was composed at this time. The "Drei
Poesien" (op. 20) and "Mondbilder" (op. 21), both written for
four-hand performance, also date from the winter of 1884-85, and the
second piano concerto was begun. The "Moon Pictures" of op. 21 ("The
Hindoo Maiden," "Stork's Story," "In Tyrol," "The Swan," "Visit of the
Bear"), after Hans Christian Andersen, were at first intended to form
a miniature orchestral suite; but an opportunity arose to have them
printed as piano duets, and the orchestral sketches were destroyed--a
regrettable outcome, as it seems.

His pupils, he found, were scattered, and he gave himself up without
restraint to the pleasures of creative writing. These were days of
quiet and deep happiness. He read much, often aloud in the
evening--fairy-tales, of which he was devotedly fond, legendary lore
of different countries, mediaeval romances, Keats, Shelley, Tennyson,
Benvenuto Cellini's Memoirs, Victor Hugo, Heine; and also Mark Twain.
Later, in the spring, the days were devoted partly to composition and
partly to long walks with his wife in the beautiful Frankfort woods,
where was suggested to MacDowell the particular mood that found
embodiment, many years later, in one of the last things that he wrote:
"From a German Forest," in the collection of "Fireside Tales."

The following summer (1885), the death of a friend of his earlier
Frankfort days, Lindsay Deas, a Scotchman, left vacant in Edinburgh
the post of examiner for the Royal Academy of Music, and Deas's family
presented MacDowell's name as a candidate. A trip to London was
undertaken for the purpose of securing the place, if possible--since
composition alone could not be depended upon for a livelihood; but
again his youth, as well as his nationality and his "modern
tendencies," militated against him. He was obliged to admit that he
had been a protégé of "that dreadful man Liszt," as the potentate of
Weimar was characterised by Lady Macfarren, an all-powerful factor in
the control of the institution; and that proving finally his
abandonment to a nefarious modernity, he was again rejected.

Upon their return to Germany the MacDowells moved from Frankfort to
Wiesbaden, where they spent the winter of 1885-86, living in a small
pension. The first concerto (op. 15) had recently been published by
Breitkopf and Härtel. The same year (1885) was marked by the
completion of the second concerto in D-minor, begun at Frankfort in
the previous winter, and the publication by Breitkopf and Härtel of
the full score of "Hamlet and Ophelia,"[3] with a dedication to Henry
Irving and Ellen Terry, from whose performances in London MacDowell
had caught the suggestion for the music. In the summer of 1886
MacDowell and his wife again yielded to their passion for travelling
and went to London to buy furniture, for they had wearied of living in
pensions and hotels and had determined to set up housekeeping. When
they returned they hired a little flat in the Jahnstrasse and
installed themselves therewith just enough furniture to give them
countenance. Here Mrs. MacDowell suffered an illness which threatened
for a time to bring a tragic termination to their happiness, and
through which the hope of a child was lost to them.

[3] The published score of this opus bears the title (in German):
"Hamlet; Ophelia: Two Poems for Grand Orchestra." But MacDowell
afterward changed his mind concerning this designation, and preferred
to entitle the work: "First Symphonic Poem (a. 'Hamlet'; b. 'Ophelia')."
This alteration is written in MacDowell's handwriting in his copy of
the printed score. When "Lancelot and Elaine" was published three
years later it bore the sub-title: "Second Symphonic Poem."

One afternoon in the spring of 1887 MacDowell and his friend Templeton
Strong, a brilliant American composer who had recently moved from his
home in Leipzig to Wiesbaden, were tramping through the country when
they came upon a dilapidated cottage on the edge of the woods, in the
Grubweg. It had been built by a rich German, not as a habitation, but
as a kind of elaborate summer house. The situation was enticing. The
little building stood on the side of the Neroberg, overlooking the
town on one side, with the Rhine and the Main beyond, and on the other
side the woods. The two Americans were captivated by it, and nothing
would do but that MacDowell should purchase it for a home. There was
some question of its practicability by his cooler-headed wife; but
eventually the cottage was bought, with half an acre of ground, and
the MacDowells ensconced themselves. There was a small garden, in
which MacDowell delighted to dig; the woods were within a stone's
throw; and he and Strong, who were inseparable friends, walked
together and disputed amicably concerning principles and methods of
music-making, and the need for patriotism, in which Strong was
conceived to be deficient.

This was a time of rich productiveness for MacDowell; and the life
that he and his wife were able to live was of an ideal serenity and
detachment. He was now devoting his entire energy to composition. He
put forth during these years at Wiesbaden the four pieces of op. 24
("Humoresque," "March," "Cradle Song," "Czardas"); the symphonic poem
"Lancelot and Elaine" (op. 25); the six songs, "From An Old Garden,"
to words by Margaret Deland (op. 26); the three songs for male chorus
of op. 27 ("In the Starry Sky Above Us," "Springtime," "The
Fisherboy"); the "Idyls" and "Poems" for piano (op. 28 and op. 31),
after Goethe and Heine; the symphonic poem "Lamia" (op. 29); the two
"Fragments" for orchestra after the "Song of Roland": "The Saracens"
and "The Lovely Aldâ" (op. 30); the "Four Little Poems" for
piano--"The Eagle," "The Brook," "Moonshine," "Winter" (op. 32); the
three songs of op. 33 ("Prayer," "Cradle Hymn," "Idyl") and the two of
op. 34 ("Menie," "My Jean"); and the "Romance" for 'cello and
orchestra. He had, moreover, the satisfaction of knowing that his work
was being received, both in Europe and in his own country, with
interest and respect. His reputation had begun unmistakably to spread.
"Hamlet and Ophelia" had been performed at Darmstadt, Wiesbaden,
Baden-Baden, Sondershausen, Frankfort. On March 8, 1884, his former
teacher, Teresa Carreno, had played his second piano suite at a
recital in New York; in March of the following year two movements from
the first suite were played at an "American Concert" given at Princes'
Hall, London; on March 30, 1885, at one of Mr. Frank Van der Stucken's
"Novelty Concerts" in New York, Miss Adele Margulies played the second
and third movements from the first piano concerto. In the same year
Mme. Carreño played on tour in America three movements from the second
suite, and in the following September she played at the Worcester
Festival of that year the "Hexentanz" of op.

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