Experimenting with 19th-Century Programming Aesthetics: Edward McDowell's Woodland Sketches Op. 51 (1896)
Level of Education of Students Involved
Arts and Sciences
Edward MacDowell was once one of the most influential American composers who later fell into obscurity. MacDowell’s Woodland Sketches Op. 51 (1896) —a cycle of ten short piano pieces — invites questions about programming, given that late-19th century programming practices involved frequent reordering and fragmentation of cyclical works. Research on Edward MacDowell has increased but how his music wa played, and in what order, has largely been left unanswered.
By exploring MacDowell‘s piano suite Woodland Sketches Op. 51 from a historical, cultural, analytical, and performative perspective, I found that MacDowell’s music was highly expressive and that its popularity was, not least, a result of the flexible performance practice and its space for artistic license, including out-of-order performances, which created unique narratives at each and every performance.
As concert programs continued to develop in the twentieth century, pieces were paired together in unique ways based on themes, keys, etc. Additionally represented in this time period is a gradual shift from unique programming to a quest to hear complete sets of music rather than excerpts today.
By investigating Edward MacDowell through a historical, analytical and performance practice perspective new discoveries can be made. MacDowell has an interesting history and his contemporaries often played his music as well. The music itself reveals themes of nostalgia and American nature and the way it was performed exposes shifts in programming. Overall, MacDowell is a composer at a turning point for music.
Albright, Logan, "Experimenting with 19th-Century Programming Aesthetics: Edward McDowell's Woodland Sketches Op. 51 (1896)" (2023). Symposium on Undergraduate Research and Creative Expression (SOURCE). 1142.
For Artistic Presentations
I will need a piano