Thursday, March 31, 2011

COMPOSSER MUSIC CLASSIC: Edward Alexander MacDowell

Edward Alexander MacDowell was an American composer born on December 18, 1860 in New York. In 1877, while visiting Europe with his mother, MacDowell enrolled at the Paris Conservatory under Augustin Savard. However, he withdrew from the Conservatory after only a year because of slow progress and went to Germany. There he studied with a pupil of Mendelssohn, Louis Ehlert. In 1879 he enrolled at the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt, a well respected institution. At Hoch Conservatory, Carl Heymann taught MacDowell piano and director Joachim Raff taught him composition. While studying with Heymann, MacDowell encountered famous pianist Franz Liszt, who visited the class twice, and took the opportunity to impress Liszt with his talents. Two years later, MacDowell played his First Piano Concerto for Liszt, and sent him a copy of his Modern Suite. Liszt recommended that the piece be played at a meeting of German music notables held in 1882. Liszt also helped get MacDowell's works printed by publishers Breitkopf & Hartel. MacDowell's growing stature landed him a job at the Darmstadt Conservatory. He married one of his students, Marian Nevins, in 1884. MacDowell, after his marriage, suffered financial problems. He refused a job at the National Conservatory of New York, and also at an American Consulate in Germany. In 1896, MacDowell was hired by Columbia University to head their newly established music department. However, he had disagreements with the school, and resigned in 1904. Soon after, MacDowell's mental health began to deteriorate. On January 23, 1908, Edward Alexander MacDowell died locked in a pathetic childlike condition at the age of only 47. The unused money raised for MacDowell's care was put toward the establishment of a sanctuary for American writers and composers.

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