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Charles Wakefield Cadman

Leader of the Indianist school

Born December 24, 1881, Johnstown, Pennsylvania
Died December 30, 1946, Los Angeles, California
About Charles Wakefield Cadman

Cadman was one of the leading "Indianist" composers of the early twentieth century, incorporating Native American themes in an attempt to create an American style separate from European precedents. His Indianist songs are still sometimes performed; for research purposes, Cadman visited and listened to the songs of Indian tribes, making recordings for the Smithsonian.

Cadman's Shanewis is his best-known opera, and one of the best-known examples of the Indianist school. As is common with Indianist composers, it is still strongly European in sound, with native American melodies fit into conventional European rhythms and harmonies.

Cadman was also a writer, editor, and prominent musical citizen of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

  • The Land of the Misty Water
    Libretto by R. La Flesche and Nelle Richmond Eberhardt.
    composed 1912
    (also known as Daoma; revised version known as Ramala)
  • Shanewis, or The Robin Woman, Indianist opera
    Libretto by Nelle Richmond Eberhardt after the life of Tsianina Redfeather.
    March 23, 1918, Metropolitan Opera, New York, New York, Sundelius, Braslau, Howard, Althouse, cond. Moranzoni, d. J. Fox, 8 perf.
  • The Sunset Trail, operatic cantata (1922, Denver, Colorado; also Chicago Civic Opera)
  • A Witch of Salem, grand opera in two acts
    Libretto by Nelle Richmond Eberhardt.
    December 8, 1926, Chicago, Illinois
  • The Willow Tree, opera for radio
    Libretto by Nelle Richmond Eberhardt.
    October 3, 1932, NBC (radio broadcast)
  • The Garden of Mystery
    Libretto by Nelle Richmond Eberhardt after the story Rappacini's Daughter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
    composed c. 1915; premiere March 20, 1952, New York, New York

Other Selected Works
  • The Ghost of Lollypop Bay, operetta (1926)
  • Lelawala, operetta (1926)
  • The Belle of Havana, operetta (1928)
  • South in Sonora, operetta (1932)

Discography Search for recordings of the music of Charles Wakefield Cadman at Amazon.com

"Once on a time" (Spring Song) and "Out on the lake" (Ojibway Canoe Song) from Shanewis (Elsie Baker)


Souvenirs from American Opera

CD / IRCC 818 (1998)

Bibliography Search for books by and about Charles Wakefield Cadman at Amazon.com

Charles Wakefield Cadman

A Witch of Salem (Piano-vocal score)

Oliver Ditson Company, Boston 1926

Last update: January 1, 2009