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Resources for students & teachers

Lawrence Gilman
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 87 pages of information about Edward MacDowell.
is rounded off by an Epilogue, which is one of the most beautiful of MacDowell’s smaller pieces, being full of tender feeling, and indicating unmistakably the deeper and human significance of the composer’s Marionette studies.  The whole album comprises one of MacDowell’s most interesting portrayals of everyday human nature, standing quite alone in its droll half-amusing, half-pathetic mode of expression.  It is something quite apart from the more specialised romantic and heroic figures of the three symphonic poems, Hamlet and Ophelia, Op. 22, Lancelot and Elaine, Op. 25, and Lamia, Op. 29; the three last pianoforte sonatas, Eroica, Op. 50, Norse, Op. 57, and Keltic, Op. 59; or of the noble "Indian” Suite, Op. 48.

OPUS 39.  TWELVE ETUDES FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF TECHNIQUE AND STYLE, FOR PIANOFORTE.

Composed, about 1889-90. First Published, 1890 (Arthur P. Schmidt).

BOOK I: 

  1. Hunting Song.

  2. Alla Tarantella.

  3. Romance.

  4. Arabeske.

  5. In the Forest.

  6. Dance of the Gnomes.

BOOK II: 

  1. Idyl.

  2. Shadow Dance.

  3. Intermezzo.

  4. Melody.

  5. Scherzino.

  6. Hungarian.

These pieces have as their chief object the development of pianoforte technique, but are quite interesting as poetical music.  In his technical instruction, whether through musical examples or verbally, MacDowell inspired his subject with the idealism and vivid thought of the true poet.  The poetry of these studies is not of the composer’s finest inspiration, but it is of a quality sufficient to prevent their being viewed solely as technical exercises.  Generally, they do not require advanced executive ability to play.

Hunting Song (Allegretto) is a study for accent and grace, but not particularly interesting as music.

Alla Tarantella (Prestissimo) is a fairly effective study for speed and lightness of touch.  It is not very difficult to play, having convenient three-note phrases.

Romance (Andantino) is fairly tuneful, but not particularly interesting.  It is a study for the development of the singing touch.

Arabeske (Allegro scherzando) is a sparkling wrist study.

In the Forest (Allegretto con moto) is suggestive enough, but not in MacDowell’s finest style.  It does not compare favourably with the forest pieces in his delightful Woodland Sketches, Op. 51, or with the deeply inspired and mature New England Idyls, Op. 62_.  Its technical object is the development of delicate rhythmical playing.

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