He left few uncompleted works. There are among his manuscripts three movements of a symphony, two movements of a suite for string orchestra, a suite for violin and piano, some songs and piano pieces, and a large number of sketches. He had schemes for a music-drama on an Arthurian subject, and sketched a single act of it. He had planned this work upon novel lines: there was to be comparatively little singing, and much emphasis was to be laid upon the orchestral commentary; the action was to be carried on by a combination of pantomime and tableaux, and the scenic element was to be conspicuous—a suggestion which he got in part from E.A. Abbey’s Holy Grail frescoes in the Boston Public Library. But he had determined to write his own text: and the prospective labour of this, made more formidable by his restricted leisure, finally discouraged him, and he abandoned the project. Five years before his death he destroyed the sketches that he had made; only a few fragments remain.
A rare and admirable man!—a man who would have been a remarkable personality if he had not written a note of music. His faults—and he was far from being a paragon—were never petty or contemptible: they were truly the defects of his qualities—of his honesty, his courage, his passionate and often reckless zeal in the promotion of what he believed to be sound and fine in art and in life. Mr. Philip Hale, whose long friendship with MacDowell gives him the right to speak with peculiar authority, and whose habit is that of sobriety in speech, has written of him in words whose justice and felicity cannot be bettered: “A man of blameless life, he was never pharasaical; he was compassionate toward the slips and failings of poor humanity. He was a true patriot, proud and hopeful of his country and of its artistic future, but he could not brook the thought of patriotism used as a cloak to cover mediocrity in art.... He was one who worked steadily and courageously in the face of discouragement; who never courted by trickery or device the favour of the public; who never fawned upon those who might help him; who in his art kept himself pure and unspotted.”
“O that so many pitchers of rough
Should prosper and the porcelain break in two!”
HIS ART AND ITS METHODS
Among those music-makers of to-day who are both pre-eminent and representative the note of sincere romance is infrequently sounded. The fact must be obvious to the most casual observer of musical art in its contemporary development. The significant work of the most considerable musicians of our time—of Strauss, Debussy, Loeffler, d’Indy—has few essentially romantic characteristics. It is necessary to distinguish between that fatuous Romanticism of which Mr. Ernest Newman has given an unequalled definition: the Romanticism which expended itself