||In 1896, the composer Edward MacDowell
and Marian, his wife, bought a farm in Peterborough, New Hampshire where
they spent summers working in peaceful surroundings. There, MacDowell said,
he produced more and better music. MacDowell, a founder of the American
Academy in Rome, knew that artists from different disciplines enriched
each other's artistic life, and he and Marian dreamed of making a community
on their property where artists could work in an ideal place in the stimulating
company of their peers.
In 1906, prominent citizens of his time, among them Grover Cleveland,
Andrew Carnegie, and J. Pierpont Morgan, created a fund in his honor. The
fund enabled Edward and Marian to carry out their plan. Although MacDowell
lived to see the first colonists arrive, he died in 1908. It was under
Marian's leadership that most of the 32 artist studios were built. Until
her death in 1956, she traveled across the country giving lecture-recitals
to raise funds and gain support for the Colony. At its founding the Colony
was an experiment for which there was no precedent. It stands now on its
record with over 4,000 artists having worked there. Edwin Arlington Robinson
was among the first applicants to MacDowell when his work was not known.
Over the years others came to work in Peterborough: Milton Avery, James
Baldwin, Willa Cather, Jules Feiffer, Frances Fitzgerald, Oscar Hijuelos,
Arthur Kopit, Studs Terkel, Barbara Tuchman, and Alice Walker.
Aaron Copland composed parts of Appalachian Spring at the Colony;
Thorton Wilder wrote Our Town; Virgil Thomson worked on Mother
of Us All; Leonard Bernstein completed Mass. Works of art created
by artists while in residence are exhibited in galleries and museums around
here and abroad. Colonists have been Pulitzer , National Book Award and
Rome Prize winners and Guggenheim, Fulbright and MacArthur Fellows.