By ROBERT SALADINI
The Library has acquired the Arnold T. Schwab Collection, an archives of materials related to the life and work of Marian Nevins MacDowell, wife of composer Edward MacDowell (1860-1908) and founder of the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, N.H. The collection was given to the Library by Arnold T. Schwab of Westminster, Calif.; it reflects Mr. Schwab's longtime interest in the MacDowell legacy. The Schwab gift joins the Music Division's "Edward and Marian MacDowell Collection" and the Manuscript Division's "Marian MacDowell" and "MacDowell Colony" collections, thereby making the Library of Congress the foremost center for study of the lives of these two important icons of American cultural history.
Mr. Schwab developed an interest in the MacDowells in the 1960s, when he was working on a biography of the critic James G. Huneker, a great admirer of Edward MacDowell's music. He eventually gained access to the MacDowell papers and continued to collect letters and reminiscences about Mrs. MacDowell through the years. Because of his involvement with other writing projects, however, Mr. Schwab never was able to write the biography that he had planned.
"I decided, painfully, to give up the material so that I would be sure it would be preserved in what was already the largest public collection of MacDowelliana for the convenient use of some younger scholar who would have the energy to do what I wanted to do," wrote Mr. Schwab recently.
Marian Griswold Nevins, who was born in 1857, was an accomplished pianist when she met Edward MacDowell in Germany, where she had intended to study with Clara Schumann, wife of composer Robert Schumann. Instead, Nevins began her study with MacDowell and eventually married him. After spending time in Europe, the couple returned to the United States settling first in Boston and then in New York, where Edward MacDowell joined the faculty of Columbia University to establish its music department. Edward MacDowell was considered to be the most prominent and internationally recognized American composer of the era.
In 1896, the MacDowells bought a 75-acre farm in Peterborough, N.H., a place that they hoped would be a source of inspiration for the composer. A decline in Edward MacDowell's health, however, prompted them to transform the farm into a place where creative artists could find freedom to concentrate on their work—a goal that would consume Marian MacDowell until her death in 1956.
Included in the collection is an important assemblage of correspondence both to and from Edward and Marian MacDowell, reminiscences of Marian Nevins MacDowell by some of her friends and MacDowell Colonists, photographs and a large number of related materials.
Arnold T. Schwab, who was born in Los Angeles in 1922, received his A.B. from the University of California at Los Angeles, and his master's and doctorate degrees from Harvard University. For most of his career, he was professor of English at California State University, Long Beach; he retired in 1980. Mr. Schwab is the author of numerous scholarly articles, lectures and poems. He has also written several articles on Edward and Marian MacDowell and the MacDowell Colony.
The collection, comprising approximately 19,000 items, is available to researchers in the Performing Arts Reading Room in the Library's James Madison Building, located at 101 Independence Ave. S.E.
Mr. Saladini is a music specialist in the Music Division.