The only one of his works of equal calibre which does not, strictly speaking, belong to this period is the set of “Woodland Sketches”; these were composed during the last part of his stay in Boston, and were published in the year (1896) of his removal to New York.
He had bought in 1896 a piece of property near the town of Peterboro, in southern New Hampshire, consisting of a small farmhouse, some out-buildings, fifteen acres of arable land, and about fifty acres of forest. The buildings he consolidated and made over into a rambling and comfortable dwelling-house; and in this rural “asyl” (as Wagner would have called it), surrounded by the woods and hills that he loved, he spent his summers from then until the end of his life. There most of his later music was written, in a small log cabin which he built, in the heart of the woods, for use as a workshop. Thus his summers were devoted to composition, and his winters to the arduous though absorbing labours of his professorship; in addition, he taught in private a few classes for which he made time in that portion of the day which was not taken up by his sessions at the university. During his first two winters in New York he also served as conductor of the Mendelssohn Glee Club, and he was for a time president of the Manuscript Society, an association of American composers. Altogether, it was a scheme of living which permitted him virtually no opportunity for the rest and idleness which he imperatively needed.
In New York the MacDowells’ home was, during the first year, a house in 88th Street, near Riverside Drive. Later they lived at the Majestic Hotel; but during most of the Columbia years—from 1898 till 1902—they occupied an apartment at 96th Street and Central Park West. After their return from the sabbatical vacation abroad they lived for a year at the Westminster Hotel in Irving Place, and for a year in an apartment house on upper Seventh Avenue, near Central Park. When that was sold and torn down they returned to the Westminster; and there MacDowell’s last days were spent.
After he left Columbia in 1904, he continued his private piano classes (at some of which he gave free tuition to poor students in whose talent he had confidence). He should have rested—should have ceased both his teaching and his composing; for he was in a threatening condition. Had he spent a year in a sanitarium, or had he stopped all work completely and taken even a brief vacation, he might have averted the collapse which was to come. In the spring of 1905 he began to manifest alarming signs of nervous exhaustion. A summer in Peterboro brought no improvement. That autumn his ailment was seen to be far more deeply seated than had been supposed. There were indications of an obscure brain lesion, baffling but sinister. Then began a very gradual, progressive, and infinitely pathetic decline—the slow beginning of the end. He suffered little pain, and until the last months he preserved in an