George Whitefield Chadwick
The Life and Music of the Pride of New England
Publication Year: 2012
This book will appeal to a broad audience of music lovers, scholars, and anyone interested in nineteenth-century American music and the Boston cultural scene.
Published by: Northeastern University Press
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This book has relied on the goodwill and help of scores of people over a long period of time. I would like to start by offering my sincerest thanks to the family and heirs of George Whitefield Chadwick, especially Elsie Chadwick, Theodore Chadwick Jr. (now deceased), Nancy Knight, Fitts family genealogist Sylvia Fitts...
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Professor Douglass Seaton’s nineteenth-century music seminar at The Florida State University encouraged my discovery of many composers and scores. But of everything I listened to that semester, I was most taken by the compositions of a little known, to me at least, American composer named George Whitefield...
Prologue: A Chadwick Sketch
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Less than a year and a half before Chadwick’s death in 1931, the young conductor and musical savant Nicolas Slonimsky wrote an article titled “Composers of New England” for the then-influential periodical Modern Music. Assessing their contribution to a national art, Slonimsky asserted that Chadwick...
1. “The Purest American Stock”: Chadwick’s New England Roots
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George Whitefield Chadwick was born on November 13, 1854, the scion of two venerable New England clans, the Chadwicks of the town of Boscawen and the Fittses of the village of Candia, both situated in southeastern New Hampshire. By and large these families comprised farmers...
2. Musical Atmospheres: Early Life in Lowell, Lawrence, Boston, & Michigan (1854–1876)
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By the time Chadwick was born, Lowell, Massachusetts, was already a thriving industrial town. It was popularly known as “The City of Spindles” because of its prominence in the American textile industry of the time, namely cotton cloth...
3. Chadwick’s European Education (1877–1880)
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Chadwick arrived in New York City on September 4, 1877, a day and a half before his departure to Europe. This was his first visit to the city. While there he attended a performance by Teresa Carreño, the legendary singer-turned-pianist, at Madison Square Garden, where she enraptured her audience with a blazing...
4. Getting Started in Boston (1880–1882)
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Chadwick re-entered Boston’s musical world with a perspective that was vastly different from the one he possessed a few short years ago. Now a professional with an enviable German conservatory imprimatur—although not a diploma—he would spend the next several years busying himself with...
5. “That Fatal Facility”: Chadwick’s Boston (1880s)
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The decade of the 1880s saw a number of impressive gains in Boston’s musical life. Of course, musical life in “the Hub”—as Boston was nicknamed by Oliver Wendell Holmes to reflect the position it claimed as the educational and cultural center of the universe...
6. Songs & Choruses, Fairs & Festivals: Chadwick & America’s Vocal Traditions (1890s)
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The 1890s have long held a special place in the popular imagination of Americans. The decade has been variously termed the “Gay Nineties,” the “Mauve Decade,” and the “Reckless Decade.” Mark Twain cynically called the last quarter of the nineteenth century...
7. “A Hell of a Job for a Composer”: Taking Charge at New England Conservatory (1897)
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By the 1890s, the situation at New England Conservatory was a mess. But, then again, the situation at NEC had long been a mess. The conservatory was founded in 1867 by Eben Tourjée (1834–1891), a genuine zealot for the cause of music, although he himself was not a particularly remarkable musical talent...
8. Sketches in Americanism: Chadwick’s Instrumental Music (1890s)
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Czech composer Antonín Dvorˇák was already over fifty years old when he came to the United States in September of 1892. Hired by music lover and philanthropist Jeannette Thurber (1850–1946) to provide leadership and to serve as a figurehead for her National Conservatory...
9. Chadwick, Modernism, & the End of an Era: "Adonais to Cleopatra" (1899–1905)
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Critic William Foster Apthorp thought that Chadwick’s Adonais Overture was “the most modern in spirit of anything I know from his pen.”1 But it defied easy and immediate comprehension. Beautiful and imaginative though it is, Apthorp could not fully grasp it at first encounter...
10. “Our Great Pilgrimage”: Chadwick’s Grand Tour (1905–1906)
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Chadwick yearned to return to Europe to accomplish some of the goals that he failed to achieve during his ill-fated 1901 trip, perhaps because he felt as though he was running out of time. His recent fiftieth birthday occasioned a special tribute performance of several of his compositions and a reception at...
11. Thursday Evenings & the Sea (1906–1912)
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Karl Muck’s term as the fifth conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra was announced in June 1906, during the final leg of Chadwick’s European sojourn. This followed Higginson’s lamentable inability to come to terms with Wilhelm Gericke earlier that year prior to his sudden and unexpected...
12. “A Beautiful but Costly Exotic”: Opera in Boston, the Met, & The Padrone (1913)
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Chadwick’s forays into the world of stagecraft had very much been a hit-and- miss proposition up to this time. Several of his previous works had been disappointing; Pontius Pilate was left in the lurch, and Judith, a work that he had reason to expect would be a sensation...
13. “We Live on Hope”: Chadwick’s Response to the Great War (1914–1919)
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On June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the nephew of Emperor Franz Joseph, leader of the Austro-Hungarian empire, was assassinated in Sarajevo while carrying out duties as the Inspector General of his uncle’s army. That event provided a pretext for what turned out to be the start...
14. “Altschüler” (1919–1930)
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Chadwick had been a leader in music education almost since his career began, and he found most of his efforts an uphill climb. While huge musical gains had been made in Boston and elsewhere, he nevertheless was troubled by the inability of serious music to reach a wide population outside...
Prologue: Chadwick’s Death & Legacy (1931)
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Although gout had been a painful nemesis for decades, Chadwick’s heart condition was more worrisome. In late 1930 and into the first months of 1931, problems that had been of concern became severe. “Paderewski dinner and concert,” he wrote in his diary on...
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Page Count: 416
Publication Year: 2012