Sunday, March 9, 2014

Mabel Daniels

Mabel Daniels (1878-1971)
Active in music from an early age, Mabel Daniels was a magna cum laude graduate of Radcliffe College.  While a student she was a soloist in the Glee Club and composed two operettas that were performed by her fellow students.  After graduation, she studied composition with George W. Chadwick in Boston who encouraged her to study with Ludwig Thuille in Munich, Germany.
Once in Munich she attempted to enroll in a score-reading class given by Director Stavenhagen.  No woman had ever been admitted to his class.  She entered the classroom to play her audition where thirty male students waited in judgment of her keyboard skills.  "You could have heard a pin drop, the place was so still. . . . Just as I took my seat before the keyboard, I heard one of the men smother a laugh. That settled it! I was bound to do or die, and with a calmness quite unnatural I played the bars set before me without a mistake. Nobody laughed when I had finished."  Way to go Mabel!

Returning to the States, Miss Daniels became director of the Glee Club at Radcliffe and later became head of the Music Department at Simmons College.  From 1918 on, she devoted her time to composing.

Choral compositions were the greater part of her output.  Her Exultate Deo was written for the 50th Anniversary of the founding of Radcliffe College and The Song of Jael was given its premiere at the Worcester Festival in 1940.  She spent 24 summers at the MacDowell Colony.  Her generosity of spirit shown through when she established scholarships and composition prizes for music students at New England Conservatory of Music and Radcliffe College. 

As with many women composers of her day, Miss Daniel’s compositions were published by Arthur P Schmidt of Boston. 

The Branscombe Choral frequently performed her choral pieces in concert and on radio.  In the Choral’s scrapbooks you will find handwritten notes from Mabel Daniels to Gena Branscombe thanking her for scheduling her piece and for the beautiful performance! 

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