Episode Two: Edward & Marian
Edward MacDowell was the first American composer of classical
music to be acclaimed by both Europeans and Americans. Born in 1861 and
raised in New York City, Edward began his piano lessons at the age of eight.
He learned quickly and showed great promise. For any gifted young musician
with adequate funds, proper training could only be found in Europe. Edward
finished his five years of studies at the Frankfurt Conservatory at the
age of twenty. He supported himself in Germany teaching private piano lessons
and was introduced to a promising young student, Marian Griswold Nevins,
from Waterford, Connecticut. She studied with Edward for three years and
they developed a warm friendship. They married in 1884, and eventually
settled in Boston. Edward's teaching and performing schedule left him little
time for his own creative work. Marian rented a vacation house in Peterborough
where Edward found success composing. In 1896, they bought a house called
"Hillcrest" in Peterborough. Edward's finest music was composed in Peterborough--music
that exhibits less European influence and incorporates many American traditions
in music such as Indian chants, Negro spirituals, and American folk songs.
Edward was offered the first professorship of the department of music at
Columbia University. He used his platform to advocate that artists are
enriched by association with artists in other disciplines. While Edward
was on sabbatical in 1902-1903, the President of the University replaced
him, in part because of his integrated art philosophy. This devastated
Edward. His health deteriorated and he died at the early age of forty-six
in January, 1908.
Episode 1: Living at the Colony
Episode 3: The History of the Colony
Students viewing the Edward & Marian MacDowell
will be introduced to Edward MacDowell and his development as a composer
and artist, along with his philosophy of interdisciplinary integration
of the arts.
Have students develop a time line from 1861-1908 for
New Hampshire, the United States, and Europe, focusing on major events
and artistic works created during that period.
Focus for Viewing
Direct students to the issue of Edward and Marian MacDowell's
education. How did they receive their education? Does every successful
artist need formal education? What was the conflict that caused Edward
to lose his job at Columbia University?
Hold a class discussion or have students write an essay
on the pros and cons of "affiliation of the arts." The MacDowell Colony
was founded on this philosophy, which is also the reason that Edward lost
his professorship. MacDowell was applauded for his philosophy, however,
and various MacDowell clubs started just before the turn of the century
and continue today.