Other Musical Chadwicks: John M. and George M. of Central New York

By Cassaro, James P. | Notes, December 1997 | Go to article overview

Other Musical Chadwicks: John M. and George M. of Central New York


Cassaro, James P., Notes


Musical life in nineteenth-century America has been thoroughly surveyed during the past two decades through the work of Gilbert Chase, H. Wiley Hitchcock, Richard Crawford, and others.(1) Scholars have devoted less attention, however, to regional studies of musicians, performers, and the music publishing industry.(2) Despite the daunting prospect of identifying, accessing, and wading through personal diaries, memoirs, nineteenth-century newspapers, federal census records, and other types of primary and secondary source materials, the significant amount of information found therein provides the foundation for important - as well as satisfying - studies.

Most academic music libraries actively collect archival materials documenting local musical activity, and these collections offer unique opportunities to scholars seeking to broaden our knowledge of American music history. In this endeavor, the Music Library at Cornell University has been an active participant, and among its archival collections are papers documenting the careers of two important local musicians.

On 28 April 1980, Louise Chadwick Brown, granddaughter of composer John M. Chadwick (1837-1906) of Seneca County, N.Y., donated a collection of manuscript and printed music to the Cornell University Music Library.(3) Although, upon receipt, approximately twenty-five percent of the printed music from this gift had to be disposed of as unusable,(4) a total of seventy items remained intact.(5) These items for the most part document the compositional output of John M. Chadwick and his son George M. (Mortimer) Chadwick (1868-1940) in the latter part of the nineteenth century.(6) This archival collection (never reported for inclusion in Resources of American Music History(7)), along with other primary resources from regional institutions, helps to bring the lives and careers of these central New York musicians sharply into focus. The following preliminary observations, which mark the first attempt to outline individual biographies and worklists,(8) document a father-son relationship that spans the decades from the Civil War into the first half of the twentieth century and provide a glimpse into nineteenth-century musical life not only at Cornell University, but in the region as well.

JOHN M. CHADWICK: FROM CENTRAL NEW YORK TO THE CIVIL WAR AND BACK

In the 7 April 1896 issue of the Ovid Independent, a weekly newspaper published in Seneca County, N.Y., an anonymous contributor offers the following assessment of the Third Brigade Band during the Civil War:

From the march from the Radidan [Rapidan] to Appomattox, the 3d Brigade band reported at headquarters every night. Besides doing duty at the hospitals, and carrying wounded soldiers off the field of battle, they were frequently called upon to go in the night on the skirmish line and play to deceive the enemy while the army would be making some strategic move, and then find their own way out of the "hole" as best they could. But the most important event in their history was that when negotiations were going on between Grant and Lee for the surrender of the Confederate Army, the band of the 3d Brigade . . . were called upon to report at General Meade's headquarters. . . . They were not long in waiting before the service required of them was made known. Word soon came that General Lee had surrendered. Never was wind jammed through horns louder and with greater vim than on that occasion. The honor they had long sought, of being the first band to play the National airs on the surrender of the Southern army, was theirs. They were further honored by being called upon to give a concert at General Meade's headquarters the same evening.(9)

The leader of the 3rd Brigade Band [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 1 OMITTED] was John M. Chadwick. Born 23 June 1837 in Northville (now King Ferry) in Cayuga County,(10) Chadwick's family moved to Ohio(11) in the early 1840s, making the journey in part by canal boat. …

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