America's first internationally recognized composer, Edward MacDowell was born into a Quaker family of Scottish descent on December 18, 1861.

As a child he studied piano before going abroad in 1876 to Paris, then on to Germany, where he found a sympathetic spiritual home. Like his compatriots Paine, Chadwick, Griffes, and Farwell, who also made the German pilgrimage. MacDowell immersed himself in not only advanced counterpoint and harmony, but also in the entire Romantic ethos. Imbibing from the stream of German folklore, poring over the great Romantic writers from Goethe and Schiller to Heine, Geibel, and Lenau, and listening to the music of Brahms, Wagner, and Liszt, Schumann and Wolf, MacDowell endeavored to compose symphonic and vocal works in the European mode. His early German songs OPUS 11 & 12 hold their own next to those by his European contemporaries. So, too, does his FIRST PIANO CONCERTO (1885), which won him praise from none other than Franz Liszt, for whom he played it at Weimar and which continued to gain him recognition when he performed it with the Boston Symphony upon his return to the States in 1887.

For the next eighteen years MacDowell built a career as a respected teacher and composer. His symphonic music resonates with poetical suggestion, often uses programmatic titles to evoke moods, and displays an affinity for folk-based elements, among them an interest in Native American melody. The forty-two solo songs with which he endowed the repertoire demonstrate a passion not only for the German Romantics, but also for the texts of his Scots precursor Robert Burns and for the English and French Romantics. In 1895 MacDowell founded an artistic colony in Peterborough, NH, which remains today a mecca for artists seeking a stimulating and reflective environment for creative work.

-from the PBS website - "I Hear America Singing"
This biography was most recently edited by...
steven - 28 Jun 2010