Edward MacDowell: Piano Sonatas Nos 1, 2, 3, 4

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Edward MacDowell
Edward MacDowell
1. "A Haunted House"
2. "From an Indian Lodge" from Woodland Sketches Op. 51 (1896)
3. First Modern Suite Op. 10 (1883)
4-5. Piano Sonata No. 1 in G minor Op. 45 (1893)
6-7. Piano Sonata No. 2 in G minor Op. 50 (1895)
8-9. Piano Sonata No. 3 in D minor Op. 57 (1900)
10-11. Piano Sonata No. 4 in E minor Op. 59 (1901)

Edward MacDowell (1861-1908) was born in America, but his musical education was formed abroad. He studied piano at the Paris Conservatory where he was a classmate of Debussy. MacDowell later moved to Germany to study piano and composition and met some of the star European composers of the day, including Liszt. Through Liszt, MacDowell met Joachim Raff and became his pupil. In 1888, MacDowell returned to America and concertized as a pianist, which led to his being recognized as one of the great emerging American musicians. His status as an American composer also rose dramatically after he published numerous orchestral and piano works.

When a teaching vacancy opened at the new music department of Columbia University in 1896, MacDowell was offered the post, which he promptly accepted. He became the first professor of music at Columbia and taught there for a number of years. In the last four years of his life, MacDowell suffered from a brain disease and his disintegrating health led to his death in 1908. By the time of his death, MacDowell had been applauded by American critics and audiences as a gifted piano virtuoso and one of America's greatest composers.

MacDowell's output is hardly known today, although many piano students are intimately familiar with his sentimental piano piece entitled "To a Wild Rose." However, during his lifetime in America, MacDowell's suites for orchestra and piano sonatas were relatively popular, the latter considered the greatest yet composed by an American.