Edward A. MacDowell was a major figure in American music at the end of the 19th century, helping raise musical standards to new highs. With early music training in New York City, at a time when the best training was in Europe, he went to Paris at the age of 15 and three years later entered the Frankfurt Conservatory. MacDowell was influenced by romantic imagery; many of his works have poetic titles: Forest Idyls and Woodland Sketches. He returned to this country in 1888, to Boston, where the Boston Symphony Orchestra performed many of his works. He also appeared as a piano soloist with the orchestra. In 1896 MacDowell became the first professor of music at Columbia University. A dispute over the status of the arts at the university led to his resignation in 1904. The following year he suffered a complete mental breakdown.