Obscure Music Monday: MacDowell's Forgotten Fairy Tales
Edward Alexander MaDowell (Dec. 18, 1860 - Jan. 23, 1908) was an American composer and pianist, born in New York City. He was a part of the Second New England School, known more commonly as the Boston Six. MacDowell wasn't born in to a musical family, but he took music lessons from a Columbian violinist, Juan Buitrago, who lived with the MacDowell family. Buitrago's friends also taught young MacDowell before his mother took him to Paris, where he received a scholarship for international students at the Paris Conservatory. He was there for two years, and was top in his class before he moved on to Dr. Hoch's Conservatory in Frankfurt Germany, where he studied piano with Carl Heymann and composition with Joachim Raff. Franz Liszt visited the conservatory while MacDowell was there, recommended his works be performed, and introduced him to a major music publisher.
After a time in Germany, and he returned to the states in 1888. He made Boston his home until 1896, when he was appointed professor of music at Columbia University and created their first music department. During the summers, MacDowell lived in New Hampshire, and found that setting to be highly conducive to composing.
MacDowell's Forgotten Fairy Tales is a charming four movement work that depicts different fairy tales: Sung outside the Prince's door, Of a Tailor and a Bear, Beauty in the Rose Garden, and From Dwarf Land. Many might not know of these fairy tales (hence their title) though the second is based on a Grimm story, and Beauty in the Rose Garden refers to a part of Beauty and the Beast. Both the first and third movements are tender and sweet, while two and four and fun and michevious. These aren't particularly difficult works, and they give the pianist an opportunity to really bring out the character of each movement.
Here's a recording of this delightful work for you to enjoy!*
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