American composer, teacher, conductor, and organist. Born on November 13, 1854 in Lowell, MA, George Whitefield Chadwick spent his childhood years in the nearby town of Lawrence, MA. His earliest introduction to music came in the form of organ lessons from his older brother Fitz Henry. By the time he was 15, Chadwick was already active as an organist. For a short period of time, Chadwick worked as a clerk at his father’s insurance business before enrolling at New England Conservatory in 1872. While at NEC, Chadwick studied organ with George E. Whiting, piano with Carlo Petersilea, and theory with Stephen A. Emery. He also received organ instruction during this period from Dudley Buck and Eugene Thayer. In 1876, Chadwick accepted a faculty position at Olivet College in Michigan. During this time, Chadwick presented a paper at the founding meeting of the Music Teachers National Association and also first exhibited an interest in composition.
After serving as an instructor and administrator at Olivet College, Chadwick traveled to Germany, where he studied with Carl Reinecke and Salomon Jadassohn at Leipzig’s Royal Conservatory, and subsequently with Josef Rheinberger at the Hochschule fur Musik in Munich. During the period between Leipzig and Munich, Chadwick traveled around Europe with a group of artists who called themselves the “Duveneck Boys”. This group was named for its leader, Frank Duveneck, who was well known for his portrait works in the style of Velasquez.
Chadwick returned to America in the spring of 1880 and settled in Boston, where he began teaching privately. Among his students were Horatio Parker, Sidney Homer, and Arthur Whiting. During this time, Chadwick’s works were being frequently performed by notable Boston ensembles including the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Handel and Haydn Society and the Harvard Musical Association. Chadwick also frequently composed for local choral organizations. From 1883 to 1893, Chadwick also served as church organist at the South Congregational Church in Boston, of which Edward Everett Hale was the pastor. In addition, from 1880 to 1899 he conducted the musical festivals at Springfield, Mass., and from 1897 to 1901 those at Worcester, Mass.
In 1892, Chadwick was commissioned to compose an ode for the opening ceremonies of the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Two years later, Chadwick’s third symphony was awarded a prize by the National Conservatory of Music, during the directorship of Dvorák. In 1897 Yale University conferred on him the honorary degree of A.M., and his Ecce Jam Noctis, for men's voices, was sung on that occasion. In 1905, Chadwick visited Germany where he conducted several of his own compositions at a concert of the Concordia in Leipzig.
In addition to his success as a composer, Chadwick also continued his teaching career by returning to New England Conservatory, this time as a faculty member. He began teaching there in 1882, and, in 1897, he became Director of the Conservatory, a position he held until 1930. Chadwick was the moving force that brought New England Conservatory to its present location on Huntington Ave., where its renowned concert venue, Jordan Hall, was erected.
As Director, Chadwick transformed NEC’s curriculum, modeling it on the conservatories in Europe. His innovations included an opera workshop, a student repertory orchestra, and courses in orchestration and harmony based on the study of actual music rather than abstract principles. Much of Chadwick's own teaching was devoted to his advanced composition students, among them Horatio Parker, who became a lifelong friend, Frederick Converse, Edward Burlingame Hill, Daniel Gregory Mason, Arthur Farwell, Arthur Shepherd and William Grant Still. Chadwick’s textbook Harmony: a Course of Study (1897) became a standard music theory text and went through fifty editions.
During the last decade of his life, Chadwick’s compositional output declined, most likely due to periods of ill health. However, he still functioned as an able administrator at the Conservatory, and remained active in Boston social circles. He died on April 4, 1931 at his home on Marlborough St. in Boston. He was survived by his wife of almost forty-three years, Ida May (Brooks), and their two sons, Theodore and Noel, as well as four grandchildren.
Chadwick was considered one of the leading figures of the Second New England School of composers, along with Horatio Parker, Amy Beach, and Edward MacDowell. Chadwick’s compositional output spans nearly every genre including opera, chamber music, choral works, songs, and perhaps most notably, orchestral music. While Chadwick’s compositions reflect the influence of the German romantic tradition and Chadwick’s teachers Carl Reinecke, Salomon Jadassohn, and Josef Rheinberger, his music also demonstrates his affinity for thematic traits that are distinctly American. In a tribute to Chadwick which appeared in the New York Times after his death, music critic Olin Downes wrote, “No other American composer of this or any previous generation produced as much important music in as many different forms as George Whitefield Chadwick…With him a whole epoch of American music culminated.”
Some of Chadwick’s major works include: Stage works : The Quiet Lodging (1892), Tabasco (1894), Judith (1901), Everywoman (1911), The Padrone (1915), and Love’s Sacrifice (1916) ; Orchestral works: Symphonies I, II (1886), III (1894), Rip Van Winkle, Thalia, Melpomene, Symphonic Sketches, Suite Symphonique, Aphrodite, Tam O’Shanter; Choral works: Dedication Ode, Ode for the Opening of the Chicago World’s Fair, Phoenix Expirans, Noel,Ecce jam noctis, Jubilate ; Chamber music: five string quartets, numerous duets, songs with keyboard accompaniment, and pieces for organ.
Steven Ledbetter, “George Whitefield Chadwick”, Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed 4 February 2008), <www.grovemusic.com>
“In Memoriam Mr. Chadwick,” New England Conservatory of Music Bulletin (Volume XIII, no. 4), May 1931.
“NEC Celebrates Chadwick”, New England Conservatory Concert Program (November 15, 2004), New England Conservatory Archives.
“George Whitefield Chadwick,” Wikipedia (Accessed 4 February 2008),
The Chadwick collection consists of thirty-nine document cases, five drop front storage boxes, two scrapbooks, and eighteen volumes of memoirs/diaries. The document cases contain: professional, personal, and family correspondence; newspaper clippings; programs; reports; speeches/tributes and other miscellany. The drop front storage boxes contain photographs, daybooks, desk calendars, Ida May Chadwick’ s travel diaries, account ledgers and other personal artifacts.
All of Chadwick's music manuscripts are individually cataloged and can be found by searching our online catalog.
This collection includes the materials created by, and belonging to George W. Chadwick, Director of New England Conservatory from 1897-1930. While, the Conservatory possessed some materials from Chadwick’s tenure, the majority of this collection was donated to NEC by Mrs. Theodore Chadwick II in 2001, after it was discovered in a storage room in Cambridge, MA. Some of the items stored with the family correspondence series were not originally part of the collection. These include family photos, copies of newspaper clippings, the Chadwick medal and the silver bowl. These materials were donated to the Conservatory Archives in 2001 by Jane Hyde, wife of Chadwick's grandson, George, on behalf of Chadwick's descendants. The programs for performances of The Padrone from 1995 and 1997 were a gift from Maria Jane Loizou in 2014.
Access & Copyright
Access to the Chadwick Collection is granted by the Archivist. Appointments must be scheduled in advance. There are no restrictions pertaining to this collection.
All copyrights to this collection belong to the New England Conservatory. Permission to publish materials from this collection is granted by the Director of Libraries. This collection should be cited as: George W. Chadwick Collection, New England Conservatory Archives, Boston, MA.
Scope & Content
The George W. Chadwick collection is organized into the following thirteen series:
- Correspondence, Professional
- Correspondence, Personal
- Correspondence, Family
- Date-books/Desk Calendars
- Newspaper Clippings
- Oversize Documents
*Note: All of Chadwick's music manuscripts are individually cataloged and can be found by searching our online catalog.
The first and largest series consists of twenty boxes (document size) of Chadwick’s professional correspondence while he was Director of the New England Conservatory. Unfortunately, the collection does not include correspondence from the early years of his tenure (1897-1903). There is a smattering of correspondence from 1904, however the majority of the correspondence spans from the years 1910 -1931. The last box of this series contains some letters written to Chadwick after his death; letters written to Mrs. Chadwick after his death; and select correspondence, originally grouped together, from a particular organization or regarding a particular topic With the exception of the select correspondence, this first series is arranged chronogically by academic year.
The second series consists of five document cases of personal correspondence (and two boxes of photocopies). These letters are arranged alphabetically by sender with a few exceptions. This trove of over 1500 personal letters to/from Chadwick and/or Mrs. Chadwick includes substantial correspondence from Frederick Converse, Henry Higginson, Helen Hopekirk, Horatio Parker, Frederick Stock, Carl Stoeckel, Templeton Strong, and Theodore Thomas, as well as limited correspondence from Amy Beach, Walter Damrosch, Antonin Dvorak, Gabriel Faure, Arthur Foote, Isabella Stewart Gardner, Percy Grainger, Henry Hadley, Charles Loeffler, Edward MacDowell, Walter McEwen, Josef Rheinberger, Jean Sibelius, John Phillip Sousa, and Leopold Stokowski.
The third series is comprised of four boxes of Chadwick family correspondence. The majority of this correspondence consists of letters between George and his wife Ida May Chadwick. Also included is correspondence from George and Ida May’s sons, Noel and Theodore Chadwick; their daughters-in-law, Elizabeth Zerrahn and Elizabeth Young (and their parents), Martha Chadwick; and their grandchildren Teddy and Conya. These letters are arranged according to sender, and then chronologically wherever possible. In addition, this series also contains materials concerning Chadwick’s descendants.
One folder contains correspondence with information about the Chadwick medal and silver bowl and documentation of the donation of these artifacts to NEC. Included is the original 1936 letter written by Chadwick’s son Noel to his son Richard—passing down the medal to the next generation. A second folder contains correspondence regarding the donation of newspaper photocopies to the NEC Archives concerning Chadwick and members of his family. Included is an article about Chadwick written by William Orcutt that appeared in the Christian Science Monitor in February 1935; wedding announcement with photos of Noel Chadwick and Elizabeth Young; and obituaries for Chadwick’s grandsons, George M. Hyde and Richard Y. Chadwick. This folder also contains two Chadwick family trees - one covering the 1600-1700s and the other George W. Chadwick and his descendants. Finally, there is a folder containing approximately twenty small photographs of Chadwick's descendants.
A collection of approximately 105 photographs, housed in two drop front boxes, makes up the fourth series. This group of photographs includes: a small number of Chadwick portraits; Chadwick family photos; several group photos taken at the Bohemian Grove (San Francisco) of Chadwick with colleagues including Clarence Eddy, William McCoy, Henry Hadley, and Joe Redding; staged performance photos from Bohemian Grove; and individual portraits of several other figures such as Frederick Converse, Henry Dunham, Wallace Goodrich, William McCoy, Karl Muck, Horatio Parker and Templeton Strong. The photographs are arranged according to subject.
Series five consists primarily of Chadwick’s date-books from the years 1889-1931 and desk calendars from 1927-1931. Also included are several of Ida May’s travel diaries, an accounts ledger and an address book.
The sixth series contains over five hundrednewspaper clippings, primarily reviews of Chadwick’s music, dating from the late 1880s to 1931. These articles appeared in numerous publications from Boston, Worcester, Springfield, New York, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Providence, and Chicago. Works of Chadwick discussed in these articles include Aphrodite, Cleopatra, Jubilee, Noel, Melpomene, Judith, Lily Nymph, Phoenix Expirans, Sinfonietta, Symphony no. 3, Symphony in C, Symphonic Suite, Quartet in E minor, Tabasco, and Tam O’Shanter etc. There are two additional folders containing more recent newspaper articles concerning Chadwick, one of which includes articles about a 1977 revival of Chadwick's opera-oratorio, Judith.
Chadwick’s memoirs(diaries) and day-books make up series seven. There are approximately eighteen volumes of memoirs- some bound, and some loose – some handwritten and some typewritten. They span the years of Chadwick’s childhood (recollections and family history) through 1930. Several of these memoirs also contain copies of letters (many written to Charlie (Saunders?) as well as clippings interspersed with the journal writing. Most of these volumes have been microfilmed for preservation purposes. In addition there are sixteen bound daybooks spanning the years 1905-1930. While the earlier daybooks have little writing in them, the later volumes contain a good deal of writing, making them similar to the memoirs.
Series eight consists ofprograms, primarily of performances that included Chadwick’s music both at and outside of NEC. Other programs are also included, specifically, BSO programs, social club events, and art exhibitions. The programs are arranged by type, and then chronologically within each type.
The writings of Chadwick – speeches, tributes, reports, and articles make up series nine. Among the NEC speeches are several annual reports, commencement addresses, addresses to the faculty, and tributes. In addition there are many speeches that Chadwick presented at various locations outside of NEC, as well as a few articles that were published or intended for publication. Similar to the programs, the Chadwick writings are arranged by type and then chronologically within each type. Several items in this series are not dated and are grouped together at the end.
The tenth series consists of three scrapbooks, presumably assembled by Chadwick himself. The first scrapbook, spanning the years 1873-1896, includes various programs, invitations, articles, and correspondence to Chadwick. The second, consisting of approximately twenty-five pages, includes mainly newspaper clippings from the years 1884-1890, many of which discuss Chadwick’s music. The third volume in this series which dates from 1904-1906 is a combination scrapbook/memoir. It contains programs and clippings, many of which are accompanied by Chadwick’s handwritten annotations. This volume also contains some daily journal entries, mainly from January-May 1906.
Some items in the eleventh series, the miscellaneous material category includes: biographical information about Chadwick, contemporary information/criticism relating to specific Chadwick works, inventories of Chadwick’s music and his music collection, and records of Chadwick’s music royalties from several publishers.
Series twelve, a small collection of artifacts, includes: Chadwick’s wallet and its contents; a medal awarded to Chadwick by the American Academy of the Arts and letters in 1909; and a silver bowl given to Chadwick in 1914 by the NEC faculty.
The thirteenth series consists of five oversize documents. These include Chadwick's diploma from the Leipzig Conservatory (1879); two honorary doctorate diplomas from Yale University (1897) and Tufts University (1905); a diploma from the Regio Istituto Musicale di Firenze (1903 or 1904); and a certificate recognizing Chadwick as an honorary member of the Litchfield County Choral Union (1909)
Correspondence, Professional - 1899, 1904, 1910-1911
Correspondence, Professional - 1911-1912
Correspondence, Professional - 1912-1913
Correspondence, Professional - 1913-1914
Correspondence, Professional - 1914-1915
Correspondence, Professional - 1915-1916
Correspondence, Professional - 1916-1917
Correspondence, Professional - 1917-1918
Correspondence, Professional - 1918-1919
Correspondence, Professional - 1919-1920
Correspondence, Professional - 1920-1921
Correspondence, Professional - 1921-1922
Correspondence, Professional - 1922-1923
Correspondence, Professional - 1923-1924
Correspondence, Professional - 1924-1925
Correspondence, Professional - 1925-1926
Correspondence, Professional - 1926-1927
Correspondence, Professional - 1927-1928
Correspondence, Professional - 1928-1929
Correspondence, Professional - 1929-1930
Correspondence, Professional - 1930-1933 and selected correspondence (also listed in more detail under Personal correspondence). Includes a few letters written to Chadwick after his death. Selected Correspondence includes the following folders:
- Correspondence regarding: “Columbian Ode”, 1892
- Charles and Oliver Ditson, 1902-1903
- Henry W. Savage regarding: “Everywoman”, 1910-1911
- Library of Congress, 1908-1925
- Worcester Musical Association, 1897-1901
- Letters to Mr. Ralph Flanders / NEC after Chadwick's death, 1931
- Letters to Mrs. Chadwick after George W. Chadwick's death, 1933-1934
Correspondence, Personal, A-F
Correspondence, Personal, G-L
Correspondence, Personal, M-O
Correspondence, Personal, P-Si
Correspondence, Personal, So-W
Correspondence, Personal, A-Mu (Photocopies)
Correspondence, Personal, Mu-W (Photocopies)
Series 3: Correspondence, Family
Correspondence, Family, George W. Chadwick and his wife, Ida May Chadwick, 1880s-1905
Correspondence, Family, George W. Chadwick and Ida May Chadwick, 1906-1930
Correspondence, Family, Theodore Chadwick and Noel Chadwick
Correspondence, Family, Elizabeth (Zerrahn) Chadwick; Elizabeth (Young) Chadwick; Martha Chadwick; Mr. And Mrs. Young; Constance Zerrahn; Teddy and Conya; other family members; materials relating to Chadwick descendants (correspondence, copies of newspaper articles, information concerning artifacts)
Box 33 – Folder 1
George W. Chadwick
Box 33 – Folder 2
Bohemian Grove, 1915
Box 33 – Folder 3
Bohemian Grove, 1915
Box 33 – Folder 4
Portraits of others
Box 33 – Folder 5
Portraits of others-continued
Box 33 – Folder 6
Portraits of others-continued
Box 33 – Folder 7
Portraits of others-continued
Box 34 – Folder 8
California photos (A)
Box 34 - Folder 9
California photos (B)
Box 34 – Folder 10
Box 34 – Folder 11
Framed photos & miscellaneous
Series 5: Date-books, Calendars, Diaries etc. of George W. Chadwick and Ida May Chadwick
Box 35- Date-books, 1889-1931
Box 36 - Date-books (larger size), 1882, 1883, 1912; Ida May Chadwick’s Travel Diaries from 1885, 1888, 1905, 1906, 1918; Student account registers/instructional notes, 1880;Address book, 1928
Box 37 - Accounts ledger, undated;
Desk calendars, 1927-1931
Series 6: Newspaper clippings
Box 38 - Folders 1-8
Box 39 - Folders 9-14
Box 40 - Folders 15-20
Series 7: Diaries, Memoirs, Daybooks
Memoirs (16 volumes): 1854-1877(handwritten); 1876-1877 (handwritten); 1877-1880(mostly handwritten, a portion typed); 1880-1893(handwritten); 1894-1906(handwritten); 1905-1909(typed); 1909-1911(typed); 1907-1910(handwritten); 1911, 1912, 1913(handwritten); 1912-1915(typed); 1914-1917(handwritten); 1916-1921(typed); 1922-1926(typed); 1926-1927(typed-two copies)
Day-books: (called Diaries) (17 volumes): 1905, 1906, 1917-1931
Box 41 – Folder 1
NEC Concert programs
Box 41 – Folder 2
Non-NEC Performances of Chadwick’s music, 1880-1896
Box 41 – Folder 3
Programs – Non-NEC Performances of Chadwick’s music, 1902-1910
Box 41 – Folder 4
Programs – Non-NEC Performances of Chadwick’s music, 1911-1914
Box 41 – Folder 5
Programs – Non-NEC Performances of Chadwick’s music, 1915-1920
Box 41 – Folder 6
Programs – Non-NEC Performances of Chadwick’s music, 1922-1929
Box 41 – Folder 7
Programs – Non-NEC Performances of Chadwick’s music, 1930-1936, 1995 and undated
Box 41 – Folder 8
Programs – Concert programs (other)
Box 41 – Folder 9
Programs - Boston Symphony Orchestra
Box 42 – Folder 10
Programs - Club events
Box 42 – Folder 11
Programs - Art Exhibitions
Box 42 – Folder 12
Programs - Other events
Series 9: Writings/Speeches/Tributes
Box 42 – Folder 1
NEC Annual Reports (of the Director), dated
Box 42 - Folder 2
NEC Annual Reports (of the Director), not dated
Box 42 – Folder 3
NEC Commencement Addresses
Box 42 – Folder 4
Other NEC Speeches/Reports
Box 42 – Folder 5
Non-NEC Speeches/Reports (Articles intended for publication)
Box 42 – Folder 6
Non-NEC Speeches/Reports/Tributes, 1885-1909
Box 42 – Folder 7
Non-NEC Speeches/Reports/Tributes, 1910-1918
Box 42 – Folder 8
Non-NEC Speeches/Reports/Tributes, 1922-1930
Box 42 – Folder 9
Non-NEC Speeches/Reports/Tributes, undated
Box 43 – Folder 1
External organization membership
Box 43 – Folder 2
Items related to Chadwick’s 50th Anniversary in Boston
Box 43 – Folder 3
Personal / Financial materials
Box 43 – Folder 4
Box 43 – Folder 5
Royalties – John C. Church
Box 43 – Folder 6
Royalties - Oliver Ditson
Box 43 – Folder 7
Royalties - Arthur P. Schmidt
Box 43 – Folder 8
Royalties - B. F. Wood
Box 43 – Folder 9
Royalties - Other publishers
Box 43 - Folder 10
Items related to Chadwick’s music / music criticism
Box 43 – Folder 11
Box 43 – Folder 12
Recommendations / references
Box 43 – Folder 13
Box 43 – Folder 14
Alfred H. Hyatt poetry booklets
Box 43 – Folder 15
Poems (alphabetized by author), A-L
Box 43 – Folder 16
Box 43 – Folder 17
Poems (no author)
Box 43 – Folder 18
Box 43 – Folder 19
Biographical information about Chadwick
Box 43 – Folder 20
Cards, notes, sketches, etc.
Box 43 – Folder 21
Box 43 – Folder 22
Box 44- Folder 23-26
Oversize miscellaneous items
Series 12: Artifacts
Box 45 - Artifacts
Series 13: Oversize Documents
Box 46 - Oversize documents