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Chadwick, George Whitefield

Chadwick, George Whitefield

Born in 1854


Inducted in 1999

Chadwick was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, on November 13, 1854. At the age of fifteen he was a skilled organist, by the time of his eighteenth birthday he had become the regular organist of a Congregationalist church and then he enrolled as a special student at the New England Conservatory. Amazingly, only four years later he was able to accept a temporary post as professor of music at Olivet College, where he stayed from 1876 to 1877. Later he travelled to Leipzig, where he distinguished himself as a composition student of Salomon Jadassohn. There he composed two string quartets and the concert overture Rip Van Winkle. Then after he left for Munich to study organ he went to Boston. He played the organ for churches, conducted and taught. In 1880 the Handel and Haydn Society performed the Rip Van Winkle overture under his baton. He secured a position in 1882 as organist of the Part Street Church, and that same year he also taught composition and instrumentation at The New England Conservatory of Music. In the 1880s his choral works, two string quartets, piano quintet, numerous songs, and several orchestral works – including two symphonies and two overtures – all met with favor. For the rest of his life his compositions made him famous, and the 33 years he served as the director of The New England Conservatory gave him the opportunity to meet dozens of amateur and professional ensembles that profited from his musical leadership. During his long career he received a prize from the National Conservatory of Music, honorary degrees from Yale and from Tufts, and in 1928 was awarded the Gold Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. At the age of 86 he died. However, he will always be a celebrated and revered leader.