Happy Birthday, Amy Beach!!

Amy Beach, ca. 1885.
Photo courtesy of The Boston Public Library

Today, Sept. 5, let’s celebrate Amy Beach’s birthday! She was a great composer of many firsts: the first American women to have a Symphony performed by a major orchestra (her “Gaelic” in 1896; her piano concerto of 1900 was another “first”), the first U.S.-born composer to have monumental success without the benefit of European training, and one of the first Americans whose music was was well-received in Europe. With more than 300 published works in a wide range of genres, hers was a great achievement by any standard. Although her music faded from the repertoire following her death in 1944, it has been revived in recent decades, and now there are multiple recordings of most of it.

Hildegard Publishing is offering a sale of their many publications of Beach’s music, in honor of her birthday (through Sept. 8).

Here is a Composer’s Datebook feature on Beach (scroll down to Sept. 5).

An excellent short biography of Beach is included in the preface to this edition of Beach’s String Quartet. It is written by Adrienne Fried Block, the author of the definitive Beach biography, Amy Beach, Passionate Victorian: The Life and Work of an American Composer, 1867-1944

And here is a live performance of part of Beach’s Piano Concerto, which we wrote about in an earlier blog post.


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