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CHARLES WAKEFIELD CADMAN  

(1881 - 1946)

Best remembered as the composer of the art songs At Dawning and From the Land of Sky-blue Water, Charles Wakefield Cadman has been in virtual eclipse during the past half century. At the dawn of the twenty-first century, however, the American musical community seems much more tolerant of our musical ancestors and their quest to forge an American music idiom.

Although Cadman held his classical works in great esteem, his life-long association with the Indianist Movement in American music (circa 1880-1920) made it difficult for the works to be judged on their individual merits. His output includes five operas, orchestral suites, chamber works, cantatas, piano works, violin works and over 250 songs.

Cadman's musical background was completely American. One of the earliest American composers not schooled in the European tradition, his music reflects an independence of thought influenced strictly by Native American sources. If Arthur Farwell was the theoretician of the so-called Indianist Movement, then Cadman can be considered its most brilliant populariser.

Born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, on 24th December, 1881, Cadman traced his musical background to his maternal ancestry. His great-grandfather, the celebrated Samuel Wakefield (1799-1895), built the first pipe organ west of the Allegheny Mountains, wrote books on theology and music, and composed early-American sacred music. Cadman began piano lessons at the age of thirteen, and soon composed several simple pieces. Abandoning formal education the following year, he financed his musical studies as a church organist as an errand boy. In Pittsburgh, he briefly studied harmony and theory with Leo Oehmler (1902), orchestration with Luigi von Kunits (1908), concertmaster of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and with Emil Paur, its conductor. This was the sum total of Cadman's musical education. In 1908, he was appointed music editor and critic of the Pittsburgh Dispatch.

Although Cadman was exposed to Indian lore as a youth, it was not until 1907, after reading Indian Story and Song by the ethnologist Alice Fletcher, that he began to compose works based on Indian melodies. In 1909, he ventured to Santa Fe in New Mexico, seeking a cure for a tubercular condition. Here he corresponded with Fletcher, who urged him to visit the Omaha Indians in Nebraska. Following her advice, he met Francis La Flesche, son of a French trader and an Omaha woman. Together, Cadman and La Flesche made cylinder recordings and transcriptions of Omaha tribal melodies for the Smithsonian Institution. Cadman learned to play their instruments and later "idealized" (adapting the melody into a nineteenth century harmonic idiom) their music for concert audiences. Striving to make the works "artistically palatable", he legitimized this in an article for the Musical Quarterly (July, 1915) on The "Idealization" of Indian Music.

Cadman's early works did not enjoy popularity until From the Land of the Sky-blue Water was given an encore by the soprano Lillian Nordica at a Cleveland, Ohio recital in 1909. His most successful song, At Dawning, written in 1906, followed a similar course, being popularised by the tenors John McCormack and Alessandro Bonci. The words of both songs were written by Nelle Richmond Eberhart (1877-1944), a neighbour of the Cadman household during his youth and the person who introduced him to Indian lore.

With the success of his songs, Cadman lived comfortably and pursued serious composition. His opera, Shanewis ('The Robin Woman'), based on authentic Indian melodies, was given by the Metropolitan Opera in 1918. It was the first American opera with a contemporary American setting staged at the Met, the first American opera with a libretto by a woman (Eberhart) at the Met, and the first American opera to be performed in a second season.

By the early 1920s, Cadman had become a self-proclaimed expert on American Indian music, and toured North America and Europe delivering his celebrated 'Indian Talk.' When not on tour, he returned to Los Angeles, where he had lived since 1916. He was a charter member of the founding organization of the Hollywood Bowl and a featured Bowl soloist seven times in his career.

With Hollywood close by, it was natural for Cadman to gravitate toward the film industry. In 1929, he was hired by Fox Studios to score motion pictures. His scores included The Sky Hawk, Captain of the Guard, Women Everywhere, and Harmony at Home. Before leaving Fox, he became embroiled in a public dispute with the composer Dmitri Tiomkin over the future direction of music for film. Cadman felt the music should be based on classical or traditional styles and was opposed to Tiomkin's popular jazz approach. Eventually, Cadman would relent but only after his severance with the studios was complete.

By the early 1930s, interest in the Indianist Movement had declined and Cadman saw his popularity erode. Sales of his songs had decreased and personal funds were depleted. Though he was voted the Most Popular American Composer of 1930 by the National Federation of Music Clubs, he recognised the change in public taste. European-trained American composers like Copland, Piston, and Harris were presenting a more sophisticated sound to the American public. Cadman intensified his classical output but the critics still stereotyped him as a composer of "Indian melodies."

As late as 1935, the California Pacific International Exposition at San Diego declared 4th September Cadman Day. It was based entirely on Cadman's past association with American Indian music. The following year, Cadman again received national prominence when he resigned from the American Music Committee of the Berlin Olympic Games Festival. He declared the Nazi régime 'repugnant.'

Cadman spent the last decade of his life composing and promoting his 'serious works.' These attained little acceptance beyond southern California. An exception was the 1940 national broadcast of the première of his Pennsylvania Symphony with Albert Coates conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. The symphony received enthusiastic acclaim but Cadman could not secure a second performance with a major Eastern orchestra. The problem was twofold. Cadman handled his own publicity ineffectively, and deteriorating political conditions in Europe had brought many talented European composers and conductors to American shores. Competition for performances was intense.

Living the last years of his bachelor life in semi-frugality at a modest hotel in Los Angeles, Cadman tried to persevere though in poor health and depression. He died on 30th December, 1946, a forgotten and "vanished" American.

Der 1881 Pennsylvania geborene Cadman begann seinen Klavierunterricht mit dreizehn Jahren und komponierte bald einfache Stücke. Er ging im darauffolgenden Jahr von der Schule ab und studierte kurzzeitig Harmonielehre, Theorie und Orchestrierung in Pittsburgh. Im Jahre 1908 wurde er Musikkritiker der städtischen Zeitung Pittsburgh Dispatch.

Ein Jahr zuvor hatte Charles Wakefield Cadman Alice Fletchers Abhandlung über die Lieder und Geschichten der Indianer gelesen, welche seine Komposition in neue Bahnen lenkte. Auf Fletchers Empfehlung hin reiste er zu den Omaha-Indianern in Nebraska, deren Melodien er zusammen mit einer Frau des Omaha-Stammes aufnahm und transkribierte. Cadman lernte die Instrumente der Indianer und „idealisierte" ihre Musik anschließend, indem er sie in die harmonische Tonsprache des 19. Jahrhunderts einfügte. Mit diesem Prozess, den er in einem Artikel der Musikzeitschrift Musical Quarterly rechtfertigte, wollte er dem Konzertpublikum die Stammesmusik schmackhaft präsentieren.

Cadmans erster durchschlagender Erfolg als Komponist stellte sich im Jahre 1909 mit seinen Liedern From the Land of the Sky-blue Water (Aus dem Land des himmelblauen Wassers) und At Dawning (Im Morgengrauen) ein. Beide beruhen auf Texten von Nelle Richmond Eberhart, die Cadman bereits als Jugendlichen in die indianische Musik eingeführt hatte. Von Eberhart stammt auch das Libretto zu Cadmans Oper Shanewis, welche auf authentischen indianischen Melodien basiert. Nicht nur wurde Shanewis 1918 an der Metropolitan Opera uraufgeführt. Sie war auch die erste Oper, welche dort in zwei aufeinanderfolgenden Spielplänen gegeben wurde. Auf seiner Erfolgswelle reitend, bereiste Cadman in den 1920-er Jahren Nordamerika und Europa, wo er Vorträge über die indianische Musik hielt. Gleichzeitig schrieb er die Musik zu verschiedenen Filmen der Fox-Studios.

n den 1930-er Jahren versiegte das Interesse der amerikanischen Öffentlichkeit an der indianischen Musik und damit auch an Cadman, der sein Konzertpublikum an die amerikanischen Komponisten der europäischen Schule verlor. Obwohl Cadman sich vermehrt vom indianischen Einfluss abwandte und sich der ernsten Musik widmete, wurde er von der Presse verallgemeinernd als „indianischer Musiker" gebrandmarkt. Einst wohlhabend und allseits gefragt, konnte sich Cadman in seinem letzten Lebensjahrzehnt über Kalifornien hinaus beim Publikum nicht mehr durchsetzen. Er starb im Jahre 1946 als verarmter und vergessener Künstler.

Devenu célèbre grâce à ses mélodies At Dawning et From the Land of Sky-blue Water, Charles Wakefield Cadman est tombé dans un relatif oubli au cours du demi-siècle qui s’est écoulé. Toutefois, à l’aube du vingt-et-unième siècle, la communauté musicale américaine semble désormais mieux disposée à l’égard des pionniers qui tentèrent d’élaborer un langage musical proprement américain.

Bien que Cadman tint ses œuvres classiques en grande estime, sa longue relation avec le Mouvement Indianisant de Musique Américaine (Indianist Movement in American music, vers 1880-1920), a rendu difficile l’évaluation objective des qualités intrinsèques de ses compositions. Son œuvre comprend cinq opéras, des suites orchestrales, de la musique de chambre, des cantates, des pièces pour piano et pour violon, et plus de 250 mélodies.

L’éducation de Cadman se déroula uniquement aux Etats-Unis. Il fut l’un des premiers compositeurs américains à ne pas avoir été formé dans la tradition européenne et sa musique manifeste une indépendance d’esprit dont la source est exclusivement américaine. Si Arthur Farwell fut le théoricien du mouvement indianisant, alors Cadman peut être considéré comme celui qui le popularisa.

Né le 24 décembre 1881 à Johnstown en Pennsylvanie, Cadman doit sans doute sa vocation musicale à ses ancêtres maternels. Son arrière-grand-père, le célèbre Samuel Wakefield (1799-1895), fut le premier à fabriquer un orgue à l’ouest des montagnes Allegheny, écrivit des livres de théologie et de musique et composa parmi les premières œuvres de musique sacrée américaine. Cadman débuta ses leçons de piano à l’âge de treize ans et composa bientôt des morceaux assez rudimentaires. Abandonnant ses études générales l’année suivante, il finança sa formation musicale d’organiste en devenant garçon de courses. A Pittsburgh, il étudia brièvement l’harmonie et la théorie auprès de Leo Oehmler (1902), puis l’orchestration avec Luigi von Kunits et Emil Paur (1908), respectivement violon solo et chef du Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Ceci constitua toute l’instruction musicale qu’il reçut. En 1908, il fut nommé rédacteur et critique musical du Pittsburgh Dispatch.

Más conocido como el compositor de las canciones de concierto At Dawning ('Al amanecer') y From the Land of Sky-blue Water ('Del país del agua azul cielo'), Charles Wakefield Cadman ha estado virtualmente eclipsado durante el pasado medio siglo. En los albores del siglo XXI, sin embargo, la comunidad musical americana parece mucho más tolerante con nuestros ancestros musicales y con su búsqueda para forjar un lenguaje musical americano. Con el presente lanzamiento se reintroduce a Charles Wakefield a una nueva generación de amantes de la música.

Aunque Cadman tuvo en gran estima sus obras clásicas, la vinculación que mantuvo durante toda su vida con el Movimiento Indianista de la música americana (circa 1880-1920) dificultó que las obras fueran juzgadas por sus méritos individuales. Su producción incluye cinco óperas, suites orquestales, obras de cámara, cantatas, obras para piano, para violín y más de 250 canciones.

El entorno musical de Cadman fue completamente americano. Uno de los primeros compositores americanos no formados en la tradición europea, su música refleja una independencia de pensamiento influida estrictamente por fuentes nativas americanas. Si Arthur Farwell fue el teórico del conocido como Movimiento Indianista, a Cadman habría que considerarlo como su más brillante popularizador.

Nacido en Johnstown, Pennsylvania, el 24 de diciembre de 1881, el entorno musical de Cadman se remontaba a sus antepasados maternos. Su bisabuelo, el renombrado Samuel Wakefield (1799-1895), construyó el primer órgano de tubos al oeste de las Montañas Allegheny, escribió libros de teología y música, y compuso algunas de las primeras obras sacras americanas. Cadman empezó a estudiar piano a los trece años y pronto compuso varias piezas sencillas. Tras abandonar la educación formal al año siguiente, financió sus estudios musicales de organista de iglesia como chico de los recados. En Pittsburgh, estudió brevemente armonía y teoría con Leo Oehmler (1902), orquestación con Luigi von Kunits (1908), concertino de la Orquesta Sinfónica de Pittsburgh y con Emil Paur, su director. Esta fue la suma total de la educación musical de Cadman. En 1908 fue nombrado director y crítico musical del Pittsburgh Dispatch.


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