Edward MacDowell eBook

Lawrence Gilman
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 87 pages of information about Edward MacDowell.

These pieces are noteworthy as early attempts at significant expression and the consequent foreshadowing of MacDowell’s mature period.  Their suggesting of their particular subjects as indicated in the titles is fairly well done, but they are of little importance as music, reflecting as they do the nineteenth century German romanticism that had already been fully exploited by Schumann and others.  There is little of the individuality of MacDowell in any of the Forest Idyls.  The dedication is interesting, for Miss Marian Nevins became Mrs. MacDowell in the year of the original publication of the pieces.  The revised edition of Forest Idyls now in circulation in England is by Robert Teichmueller, and was issued in 1912.  MacDowell himself revised the Reverie (No. 3) and the Dance of the Dryads (No. 4) in his later period, and these are published in America by Arthur P. Schmidt.

1. Forest Stillness is an Adagio, opening with softly breathed chords misterioso.  The effect is one of deep stillness, but soon becomes dull and burdensome, seeming to lack that touch of genius found in the composer’s later works, which are able to preserve their interest throughout.

2. Play of the Nymphs is technically clever and brilliant, but lacks interest and is too spun out.

3. Reverie is a short and tuneful little piece with little or nothing MacDowell-like in it and much of nineteenth century German romanticism and harmonies.  It has been arranged for orchestra, and for pianoforte and strings.

4. Dance of the Dryads would doubtless attract lovers of the Sydney Smith type of salon music, if there are any of them left.  It opens in quite a bewitching dance manner and then goes on tinkling away on top notes, with chromatic runs, half floating arpeggios and all the rest of the stock-in-trade of pretty salon music.  There are, however, some rather characteristic touches in it, which distinguish it from its companions.  The key transitions from A flat major through distant D major and then F sharp major in bars 22, 23 and 24 (Teichmueller 1912 Edition) respectively are quite personal.

OPUS 20.  THREE POEMS, FOR PIANOFORTE DUET.

Composed, Winter, 1884-5. First Published, 1886 (J.  Hainauer).

  1. Nights at Sea.

  2. Tale of the Knights.

  3. Ballade.

Like the Forest Idyls, Op. 19, these pieces have a definite poetic basis, but are conceived in a manner that only slightly suggests the individuality of the composer.  They are quite musical and well written for a pianoforte duet, but lack the sustained interest one expects to find in MacDowell’s work.

OPUS 21.  MOON PICTURES AFTER HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN, FOR PIANOFORTE DUET.

Composed, Winter, 1884-5. First Published, 1886 (J.  Hainauer).

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Edward MacDowell from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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