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

These part-songs are finely written and full of suggestiveness. Hush, hush! creates the atmosphere suggested by its title. A Voice from the Sea and The Crusaders are settings of some of the composer’s own verses.  The sea song tells of the north wind’s wrath, the roaring sea on the rugged shore and of a woman with a torch, looking out into the darkness, moaning:  “Thy will be done.”  The whole song graphically suggests the dangers of the sea.  The third chorus is heroic and strong, not treating of the forces of nature, as does the preceding number, but with the bold, adventurous daring, fired with religious zeal, of the old Crusaders.  The music of The Crusaders is worthy of its theme.

OPUS 53.  TWO CHORUSES, FOR MALE VOICES.

First Published, 1898 (Arthur P. Schmidt).

  1. Bonnie Ann.

  2. The Collier Lassie.

These are charming part-songs, and bear the composer’s individual stamp.  The groups of male voice choruses of Ops. 52, 53 and 54, present a fine aspect of MacDowell’s work, although they are not of his most important output.  Presumably a good reason why they are so seldom performed in Europe is that they are little known here; it is certainly not because their inspiration or effect is poor.  The composer was conductor of the Mendelssohn Glee Club, an old-established American Male Voice Choir, about the date when these part-songs were written.

OPUS 54.  TWO CHORUSES, FOR MALE VOICES.

First Published, 1898 (Arthur P. Schmidt).

  1. A Ballad of Charles the Bold.

  2. Midsummer Clouds.

These two choruses are some of the finest of MacDowell’s little known part-songs for male voices, and are both written to his own lines.  The first is a stirring ballad of olden times:—­

Duke Charles rode forth at early dawn Through drifting morning mists, His armour frosted by the dew Gleamed sullenly defiance....

  ...  All day long the battle raged. 
  And spirits mingled with the mist
  That wreathed the warring knights....

Charles, although his charger is led by Death against the foe, himself falls a victim to the tireless Reaper.

The second chorus, Midsummer Clouds, is in pleasant contrast to the blood and war spirit of the first.  In it we have the imaginative charm and beauty of lines like the following:—­

  Through the clear meadow blue
  Wander fleecy white lambs....

There is a certain depth about the song, however, as if the scenic suggestion is only a symbol of something greater and more human, and this feeling is increased by the last verse:—­

And the light dies away As the silent dim shapes Sail on through the gloaming, Towards dreamland’s gates.

OPUS 55.  SEA PIECES, FOR PIANOFORTE.

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