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Charles Wakefield Cadman

Born: December 24, 1881
Place: Johnstown, Pennsylvania
Died: December 30, 1946
Place: Los Angeles, California

Charles Wakefield Cadman Charles Wakefield Cadman was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania on December 24, 1881. He grew up and was educated in Pittsburgh, and worked as a messenger boy in Pittsburgh's steel mills. He studied music during his youth, and went on to become a church organist and a music critic for the Pittsburgh Dispatch. His most compelling musical interest was in composing, and in 1904 he began publishing his compositions, including ballads and pieces for organ. His attention turned to American Indian lore and tribal music, and he began incorporating these themes into his compositions.

In 1909, Cadman began collecting and recording tribal music of the Omaha and Winnebago people. Drawing on his studies of American Indian song, he collaborated with poet Nelle Richmond Eberhardt, and began producing a series of works based on Native American music. This collaboration resulted in at least 300 songs and an opera. During the period from 1909 to 1916, he toured the country with American Indian princess Tsianina Redfeather, giving talks and performances based on the music of Native Americans. A melodic piece he composed in 1912, From the Land of the Sky Blue Water, became a popular hit. In 1918 he published Shanewis, which was based on the life of Princess Redfeather. This piece was performed at New York's Metropolitan Opera during the 1918 and 1919 performance seasons.

In the mid-1920's, Cadman gravitated away from his American Indian themes. He published The Garden of Mystery, based on a Nathaniel Hawthorne story, in 1925, and followed this with his 1926 three act opera, A Witch of Salem. Charles Cadman spent the latter part of his career in California, primarily working on symphonic pieces, and his works were frequently performed by the San Diego Symphony during those years. Charles Wakefield Cadman moved to Los Angeles in 1938, and died there on December 30, 1946.

You can hear some of Charles Wakefield Cadman's compositions by purchasing these audio collections from Amazon.com: The American Indianists, and The American Indianists, Volume 2.


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