The American pianist and composer Edward MacDowell is only known to me because of the long series of piano concerts published by the English label Hyperion. That series focusses on the works of what we might think as second rate composers, that turn out to be worthwhile. MacDowell’s second piano concerto is one of those, and I was happy to have found this little gem.
Born in New York in 1860, he started his studies into music at the age of seventeen. He quickly drew attention from the bigger romantic stars of the day (read: Franz Liszt and Clara Schumann) and with their help established himself in the music scene in Europe. He returned to the US in 1888, and settled in Boston.
Around the turn of the century, things went sour for MacDowell. He left his position at Columbia University because of a conflict in 1904, and after that his health deteriorated very quickly, probably because of bromide poisoning. His mental capabilities also suffered in this time, and he died like a confused child four years later.