{ subscribe_url:'/share/sites/library-of-congress-blogs/nls-music-notes.php' }

American Composers and Musicians from A to Z: M (Part 1—MacDowell, Edward)

This is a guest post written by music librarian Brian McCurdy.

If one were to examine the career of Edward MacDowell (1860-1908) solely based on the merit of his compositions, his life would be considered an extraordinary one.  However, his legacy of influence on the composers, writers, journalists, performers, and artists who passed through the woods of the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, N.H., has extended more than 100 years after his passing.

Edward MacDowell facing front

A photographic negative of Edward MacDowell by Oscar Mauer, 1902-1903.  From the Harris & Ewing Collection //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/hec.23692

The MacDowell Colony was founded in 1907 by both MacDowell and his wife Marian.  Marian, a pianist and philanthropist, continued the work of the non-profit venture and led the colony for the next 25 years.  Intended to give artists a peaceful environment where they can create, be inspired, and work without the stress and struggle of day-to-day life, the colony now offers annual fellowships to about 300 artists each year.

Who has spent time at the MacDowell Colony? While on fellowship, Aaron Copland worked on Appalachian Spring—a Pulitzer Prize-winning composition that was premiered at the Library of Congress in 1945.

Thornton Wilder wrote Our Town, and Leonard Bernstein completed Mass—both while at the colony.

The international music fraternity Sigma Alpha Iota (SAI) sponsors their own living quarters on the colony, known to its members as “Pan’s Cottage”.  SAI has made significant contributions to the large print scores collection at the Library of Congress.

Since 1960, the MacDowell Medal has been awarded each year to writers, composers, visual artists, and film makers.  Robert Frost, Walter Piston, Steve Reich, Stephen Sondheim, and David Lynch have all been recipients.  The medal day ceremony is the only day of the year that the MacDowell Colony is open to the public.

The NLS Music Section has a number of Edward MacDowell’s works in various accessible formats at the National Library Service.  His most well-known work, Woodland Sketches, op. 51, is available in both large print (LPM 00089) and braille (BRM 09484) formats.  Here at the Library of Congress, there are a number of MacDowell’s manuscripts in our holdings, many of which were acquired as a result of a friendship between the composer and Oscar Sonneck—former Music Division Chief at the library.  In 2007, the Library of Congress held a special exhibit celebrating the centennial of the MacDowell Colony, and the online component holds some valuable information.

Want to learn more about the works referenced in this post?  Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring is available on BARD (DBC 10097).  Also, Copland: Since 1943 by Aaron Copland and Vivian Perlis is available in braille (BR 09226) and in Talking Book format (DB 36096).  For even further Copland perusal, the Copland Collection is ideal.

“Gloria tibi” from Bernstein’s Mass is available in braille format (BRM 30150).

Here are a few of MacDowell’s works, (other than Woodland Sketches, referenced above), that are included in our NLS holdings:

Alla Tarantella for piano (BRM 18207)

An Old Trysting Place for piano (BRM 12808)

To a Wild Rose, transcribed for violin and piano (BRM 00861)

Six Selected Songs for low voice and piano (BRM 00600)

Barcarolle for piano (BRM 13460)

Etude de concert, op. 36 for piano (BRM 00308)

To the Sea for piano (BRM 12787)

Without question, the legacy of Edward MacDowell has extended far beyond the concert hall, spanning more than a century and inspiring generations of creative minds.

From Anderson to Zaninelli: Audio Lessons for Classical Singing

Learn to sing classical art songs and arias with audio lessons available from the NLS Music Section!

New BARD Additions: July 2018

Read this blog and discover new materials, recorded and braille, now available from the NLS Music Section. Audio Materials All of the following are productions of Bill Brown. Banjo American Pie.  Teaches this Don McLean song without the use of music notation.  (DBM03915) Piano Bless the Broken Road. Teaches how to play “Bless the Broken […]

American Composers and Musicians from A to Z: E (Part 1 – Ellington, Duke)

Continuing our series of American composers from A to Z, we come to the letter E. Personally, I can think of no better example than Duke Ellington. I consider him to be one of the first great quintessential “American” composers of his time, who wrote music in a true American idiom, rather than copying Western […]

Carnegie Hall of the South: Nashville’s Musical Legacy, Part 2

This is the second half of a two-part post on Nashville’s musical history and related books in the NLS Music Collection. Read the first part here: Athens of the South: Nashville’s Musical Legacy, Part 1. Nashville’s most famous music venue, the Ryman Auditorium, was completed in 1892 and was originally a church called the Union […]

American Composers and Musicians from A to Z: D (Part 2 – Davis, “Blind” John and Dranes, Arizona)

Blind John Davis Blind John Davis was born in Mississippi in 1913, but moved to Chicago with his family at a young age.  He lost his sight shortly thereafter at age 9. He began to learn the piano as a teen, and later became a regular session musician for famous blues record producer Lester Melrose […]

A Gem in the Music Appreciation Collection

One of the most nerve-racking events I ever experienced as a music student was participating in master classes. I remember one class in particular vividly; the feeling of slight panic as the master class teacher repeated for the fourth time, “no, not like that, try again.” I could hear the audience shifting in their seats […]

It’s Summertime!

Now that the hockey season is officially over, there is only one major sport that is capturing the nation’s attention: baseball! I find that baseball is synonymous with summer, as it’s been played in the summer months for generations. I’m sure I’m not alone recalling warm summer evenings spent gathered around the radio listening to […]

New Titles from Bill Brown

For this week’s blog, the staff of the Music Section decided it would be a good idea to update our readers on some of our newly added titles from Bill Brown. These books are not on BARD. However, they are all available on digital cartridge. If you see something that interests you, please get in touch […]