A CHRONOLOGICAL VIEW OF WESTERN MUSIC HISTORY IN THE CONTEXT OF WORLD EVENTS
December 18, 1860: Edward Alexander MacDowell is born on the Lower East Side of New York City, USA, the third child of Thomas Fair MacDowell, a milk dealer, and Frances Mary Knapp.
April 25, 1876: Edward MacDowell (15) and his mother board ship in New York, heading for France.
October 31, 1877: Edward MacDowell (16) auditions, in a group of 40 applicants, for admission to the Paris Conservatoire before a committee headed by Ambroise Thomas (66). He is one of five receiving a unanimous vote of approval.
July 26, 1878: Edward MacDowell (17) participates in his first concours at the Paris Conservatoire before a committee which includes Henri Herz (75), Camille Saint-Saëns (42), and Ambroise Thomas (66). His prepared piece goes well, but his sight-reading from manuscript is a disaster when he mistakenly plays the piece in minor, abruptly switching to major in the middle when he realizes his mistake. Among the other pianists is Claude Debussy (15).
November 18, 1878: Edward MacDowell (17) and his mother board a train in Paris, leaving the Conservatoire for the Royal Conservatory in Stuttgart.
May 5, 1879: Edward MacDowell (18) is brought to the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt to meet its director Joachim Raff, to be considered for admission as a piano student.
May 7, 1879: Edward MacDowell (18) returns to the offices of Joachim Raff, bringing some of his compositions with him, to be considered as a composition student at the Hoch Conservatory. After examining the music for an hour, Raff accepts him.
June 9, 1879: Edward MacDowell (18) appears in concert for the first time, at Hoch Conservatory, Frankfurt-am-Main, in a recital of the music of Franz Liszt (67) attended by the composer.
May 24, 1880: For a second time, Edward MacDowell (19) performs a work of Franz Liszt (68) (Hungarian Rhapsody no.14) for the composer at a concert at the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt. Also present is faculty member Clara Schumann (60). Liszt compliments MacDowell warmly.
April 13, 1882: Franz Liszt (70), in Budapest, writes to Edward MacDowell (21), recommending the performance of MacDowell’s Erste moderne Suite op.10 at the festival of the Allgemeiner deutscher Musikverein. It is the break MacDowell has been hoping for.
June 18, 1882: Edward MacDowell (21) travels from Frankfurt to Weimar and plays his new Piano Concerto for Franz Liszt (70) at Liszt’s residence in the Hofgärtnerei. Eugen d’Albert, who happens to be there, plays the accompaniment. Liszt tells d’Albert, “You must bestir yourself if you do not wish to be outdone by our young American.” (Bomberger, 67)
July 11, 1882: Through the intercession of Franz Liszt (70), Edward MacDowell (21) performs his Erste moderne Suite op.10 at Tonkünstler-Versammlung des Allgemeinen Deutschen Musik-Verein in Zürich. It is very successful and establishes a reputation for him in Europe.
July 31, 1882: Fresh from his success in Zürich on 11 July, Edward MacDowell (21) writes to B. Schotts Söhne in Mainz asking them to consider publishing his music. They will politely decline.
August 5, 1882: Edward MacDowell (21) writes to Breitkopf and Härtel in Leipzig asking them to consider publishing his works. See 31 August 1882.
August 31, 1882: Breitkopf and Härtel write to Edward MacDowell (21) in Darmstadt announcing that they are willing to publish his two piano suites if he will share in the cost. See 10 September 1882.
September 10, 1882: In Darmstadt, Edward MacDowell (21) writes to Breitkopf and Härtel agreeing to their proposal of 31 August. He hopes his parents can help him come up with the money.
December 21, 1882: Breitkopf and Härtel writes to Edward MacDowell (22) announcing that his First and Second Modern Suites have been published. They send the usual six free copies. MacDowell is now a published composer.
February 22, 1883: In Budapest, Franz Liszt (71) writes to Edward MacDowell (22), thanking him for sending his recently published piano suites opp.10 and 14, calling them “excellent.” He also accepts MacDowell’s dedication of his Piano Concerto to him.
June 28, 1884: Edward MacDowell (23) arrives in New York from Europe aboard the SS Elbe. He has not been home for over eight years.
July 11, 1884: Edward MacDowell (23) secretly marries Marian Griswold Nevins, a former piano student of his, in the City Court of New York. The actual wedding is planned for 21 July but MacDowell is worried about something going wrong so he persuades her to marry him at City Hall.
July 21, 1884: Edward MacDowell (23) publicly marries Marian Griswold Nevins, a former piano student of his, at her family’s home at Shaw Farm in Waterford, Connecticut. See 11 July 1884.
March 30, 1885: The second and third movements of Piano Concerto no.1 by Edward MacDowell (24) are performed for the first time, in New York. See 3 April 1888.
November 4, 1886: Ophelia, a symphonic poem by Edward MacDowell (25), is performed for the first time, in New York. See 26 December 1886.
November 6, 1886: An article by Carl Valentine Lachmund appears in the American Art Journal. It extols the virtues of four expatriate American composers, especially Edward MacDowell (25).
December 26, 1886: The symphonic poems Hamlet and Ophelia by Edward MacDowell (26) are performed together for the first time, in Wiesbaden. See 4 November 1886.
March 7, 1888: Jeannette Thurber telegraphs Edward MacDowell (27) in Wiesbaden, asking him to join her National Conservatory of Music in New York. He will politely decline.
April 3, 1888: Piano Concerto no.1 by Edward MacDowell (27) is performed completely for the first time, in Boston. See 30 March 1885.
October 12, 1888: Benjamin Johnson Lang gives a reception to welcome Edward MacDowell (27) to Boston. He invites 200 men, almost all musicians, including Arthur Foote (35) and John Knowles Paine (49).
November 19, 1888: Edward MacDowell (27) makes his performing debut in Boston assisting at a concert of the Kneisel Quartet. He plays in a Piano Quintet and also some of his own solo piano music.
March 5, 1889: Piano Concerto no.2 by Edward MacDowell (28) is performed for the first time, in New York. The critic HW Krehbiel will say that it deserves to be put “at the head of all works of its kind produced by either a native or an adopted citizen of America.”
April 13, 1889: Edward MacDowell (28) makes his debut with the Boston Symphony Orchestra playing his own Piano Concerto no.2 before an overflow crowd.
January 10, 1890: Lancelot und Elaine, a symphonic poem after Tennyson by Edward MacDowell (29), is performed for the first time, in Boston.
May 13, 1891: Henry F. Gilbert (22) completes his first composition under the tutelage of Edward MacDowell (30), A Lovely Fir Tree for piano.
September 24, 1891: The First Orchestral Suite of Edward MacDowell (30) is performed for the first time, in Worcester, Massachusetts.
November 5, 1891: Die Sarazenen and Die schöne Aldâ, two fragments after The Song of Roland by Edward MacDowell (30) for orchestra, are performed for the first time, in Boston.
March 18, 1892: Edward MacDowell (31) premieres the third movement of his Sonata tragica op.45 for piano in a solo recital in Boston. See 27 March 1893.
March 27, 1893: Edward MacDowell (32) plays the first complete performance of his Sonata tragica for piano op.45 in Boston. See 18 March 1892.
January 23, 1896: Suite no.2 “Indian” for orchestra by Edward MacDowell (35) is performed for the first time, in the Metropolitan Opera House, New York. The composer also appears as soloist in his Piano Concerto in d minor. In the audience are President Seth Low, Professor John W. Burgess, and Bishop Henry Potter, all of Columbia University. They have just received a grant of $150,000 to be used for music instruction. After speaking with MacDowell, the three decide that the money will be used for a professorship and that MacDowell should be that professor.
May 5, 1896: The trustees of Columbia University offer Edward MacDowell (35) the post of Professor of Music. He will accept.
October 22, 1896: Edward MacDowell (35) is awarded an honorary doctorate from Princeton University.
October 10, 1899: Edward MacDowell (38) writes to Edvard Grieg (56) asking that he dedicate his Third Piano Sonata to him. Grieg will graciously accept and the two initiate a warm correspondence of several years.
May 21, 1900: Having failed in his attempt to program increasing numbers of European compositions, Edward MacDowell (39) resigns as President of the Society of American Musicians and Composers. The group reverts to its original name, the Manuscript Society of New York.
June 18, 1902: Edward MacDowell (41) is awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Pennsylvania.
May 14, 1903: Edward MacDowell (42) makes his British performing debut with the Philharmonic Society of London.
September 6, 1903: Today or tomorrow, Edward MacDowell (42) stops in Leipzig and settles a long standing dispute with this publisher, Breitkpf & Härtel. See 17 September 1903.
September 17, 1903: After receiving a letter from Breitkopf & Härtel, summarizing their agreement in terms at variance with his understanding, Edward MacDowell (42) writes a scathing letter back to them from England. He demands they award him the settlement he thought they agreed to. See 6 September 1903 and 21 September 1903.
September 21, 1903: In response to Edward MacDowell’s (42) letter, Breitkopf & Härtel agree to his demands. “But it is only on the condition that your unfriendly correspondence will cease in the future that we have resumed our relations with you.” (Bomberger, 257)
February 3, 1904: The New York Evening Post runs an article announcing that Edward MacDowell (43) is resigning his position at Columbia University. They quote MacDowell as criticizing the administration of the university and its treatment of the arts.
February 10, 1904: The New York Evening Post publishes a cover letter and report by Edward MacDowell (43) criticizing the administration of the arts at Columbia University. Intended for the Board of Trustees, this is the first they see it.
March 2, 1904: At their request, Edward MacDowell (43) confirms in writing to the Board of Trustees of Columbia University that the Evening Post report of 10 February is correct.
March 8, 1904: In a press release, the Board of Trustees of Columbia University acknowledge the resignation of Edward MacDowell (43).
December 2, 1904: Members of the National Institute of Arts and Letters elect the first seven members of the American Academy of Arts and Letters: Samuel Clemens, John Hay, William Dean Howells, John LaFarge, Edward MacDowell (43), Augustus Saint-Gaudens, and Edmund Clarence Stedman.
July 22, 1905: With increasing signs of mental illness, Edward MacDowell (44) signs a power of attorney. His wife Marian will now have control of his affairs during what will turn out to be his last illness.
October 29, 1905: Mrs. Edward MacDowell presents the idea of turning their summer home into an artists’ colony to the MacDowell Club of New York.
November 15, 1905: Mrs. Edward MacDowell hires a nurse, Anna Baetz, who will attend MacDowell (44) through the entirety of his final illness.
April 10, 1906: The New York Times reports that the fourth meeting of the MacDowell Club took place at Carnegie Hall last night, with some of the most important cultural figures in the country. They planned to discuss a suitable memorial for Edward MacDowell (45). The attendance of 100 members is called “sparse.”
March 20, 1907: The Edward MacDowell (46) Memorial Association is incorporated in New York as a combination of the Mendelssohn Glee Club and the MacDowell Club of New York. The purposes include to further all the arts and to develop the home of Edward and Marian MacDowell in Peterborough, New Hampshire towards that purpose.
March 22, 1907: Marian MacDowell donates the property owned by her and her husband Edward (46) to the Edward MacDowell Memorial Association in Peterborough, New Hampshire. The property consists of 81 hectares of land, their house, and two secondary buildings. The intention is that an artist colony be built as soon as the MacDowell’s are both dead, but Mrs. MacDowell will invite the first colonists in the summer of 1908.
January 23, 1908: 18:30 Edward Alexander MacDowell dies quietly in the Westminster Hotel, New York, USA of paresis (dementia paralytica-associated with syphilis) aged 47 years, one month, and five days, in the presence of his wife and family. His mortal remains will be buried in Peterborough, New Hampshire. (The possibility has been raised that MacDowell actually died of bromide poisoning. The symptoms are remarkably similar to dementia paralytica.)
January 25, 1908: 10:00 A funeral in memory of Edward MacDowell takes place at St. George’s Church in Manhattan. The family then boards a train to Peterborough, New Hampshire for burial.
January 26, 1908: The earthly remains of Edward MacDowell are laid to rest at his summer home in Peterborough, New Hampshire, facing Mount Monadnock. (It is now the MacDowell Colony)
October 24, 1908: Lamia, a symphonic poem by Edward MacDowell (†0), is performed for the first time, in Symphony Hall, Boston 20 years after it was composed.