After American-born, European-trained Edward MacDowell returned to the United States in 1888 and settled in Boston, he was welcomed as the composer American music had been awaiting. Enhanced by a professorship at Columbia University (1896-1904), his fame drew him into the current debate over musical nationalism. MacDowell relished the role of American composer, using national elements to approach artistic universality. "To a Wild Rose" for piano links post-Wagnerian tonality with programmatic suggestion in a style echoed by later popular songs. And "Dirge" from the Indian Suite evokes Native American experience to ground America's independent spirit in an idealized primeval past.

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