The unsung virtues of American composer George Chadwick (1854-1931)

Posted on: April 9, 2019

“Eighty-eight years ago on this date, George Whitefield Chadwick died,” writes Sudip Bose in Thursday’s (4/4) American Scholar. “In subsequent decades, the composer became a figure of willful neglect…. We must remember …. in 1931 …Stravinsky’s revolutionary Rite of Spring was already 18 years old… Even 12-tone music had been around for a solid decade…. [Chadwick’s] music, written by a New Englander through and through, was deemed to be not quite American enough…. [In 1882] Chadwick … accepted a position at the New England Conservatory, eventually becoming its director.… His work [there] left him little time to compose…. In 1893 … he wrote his Symphony No. 3 [and] entered the work in a competition sponsored by New York City’s National Conservatory—Antonin Dvořák was its director in those days—and was awarded the $300 prize…. The following year, the Boston Symphony Orchestra performed the symphony…. His Symphonic Sketches of 1904 … incorporated folk elements and vaudeville motifs into its spritely Mendelssohnian textures.… The Symphony No. 3 … may be the product of youth, but if you … embrace it on its own terms, it begins to sound … more and more like an American masterpiece.”

Posted April 9, 2019