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George Whitefield Chadwick

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George Whitefield Chadwick (November 13, 1854 – April 4, 1931) was an American composer. Along with Horatio Parker and Edward MacDowell, he was a representative composer of what can be called the New England School of American composers of the late 19th century — the generation before Charles Ives. Chadwick’s works are influenced by the Realist movement in the arts, characterized by a down-to-earth depiction of people’s lives. Many consider his music to portray a distinctively American style. His works included several operas, three symphonies, five string quartets, tone poems, incidental music, songs and choral anthems. Along with a group of other composers collectively known as the Boston Six, Chadwick was one of those responsible for the first significant body of concert music by composers from the United States. The other five were Amy Beach, Arthur Foote, Edward MacDowell, John Knowles Paine, and Horatio Parker.

Contents Born in a rural part of Lowell, Massachusetts, Chadwick received some early musical training from organ lessons given by his older brother, Fitz Henry. He developed an independent, self-reliant character early in his life. Dropping out of high school in 1871, Chadwick assisted briefly in his father’s insurance business. The experience enabled him to travel to Boston and other cities, where he attended concerts and cultural events that might have initiated his lifelong interest in the arts.

Chadwick entered New England Conservatory as a “special student” in 1872, where he could study with the faculty without satisfying the rigorous entrance or degree requirements. However, he approached his studies more seriously and took advantage of what NEC offered.

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