Probably Commenced Early in 1885 at Frankfort. Completed at Wiesbaden the same year.
First Performance in New York City, March 5th 1889, at Chickering Hall, by the Composer and Orchestra Conducted by Theodore Thomas.
First Published, 1890 (Breitkopf & Haertel).
Dedicated to Teresa Carreno.
1. Larghetto calmato—Poco piu mosso.
2. Presto giocoso.
3. Largo—molto Allegro, etc.
This is the most frequently played of MacDowell’s two concertos for pianoforte. It is much the finer of the two, being constructed with greater skill and artistic confidence than the First Concerto, Op. 15, and of all the works of MacDowell’s early period it is the most enduring. Like its predecessor, it is one of the composer’s few compositions that have no definitely indicated poetic content. As a whole it is a work full of feeling, brilliantly cohesive and logical, with good material that is handled with confident skill, but it is not to be compared with even the small works of the composer’s mature period, which commences with his Opus 47. Its character, however, is altogether strong and virile, containing many passages of pure tonal beauty and eloquent expressiveness. The orchestra is written for with skill and imagination and is on equal terms with the solo instrument. The only fault of the work is that its pianoforte part is far too continuously brilliant.
The concerto was enthusiastically received on MacDowell’s first performances of it in New York in March, 1889, and in Boston a month later. On July 12th of the same year he played it in Paris. His playing of it at a concert of the New York Philharmonic Society on December 14th, 1894, was a memorable one and created a furore, and he not only had to bow several times after each movement, but at the end was given a storm of cheering and recalled again and again to receive the acknowledgments of the Philharmonic audience, which could be very critical when occasion demanded. On May 14th, 1903, MacDowell visited London and played the concerto at a concert given by the venerable Royal Philharmonic Society held at Queen’s Hall. The work had been first played in London (Crystal Palace) three years previously, by Carreno.
Composed, Wiesbaden, Early Summer, 1887.
First Published, 1887 (J. Hainauer. British Empire—Winthrop Rogers, Ltd.).
3. Cradle Song.
4. Czardas (Friska).