Composers Datebook®

with host John Birge

Thursday, September 5

Amy Cheney and Mrs. Beach

Synopsis

Amy Marcy Cheney Beach was born in Henniker, New Hampshire, on today’s date in 1867. Amy Beach — or, Mrs. H.H.A. Beach, as she was also called — was one of America’s first major women composers and a gifted concert pianist to boot

We probably have Mr. Beach to thank for Amy’s decision to devote herself more to composition than performance. In the spring of 1885, at the age of 18, Amy debuted as a soloist with the Boston Symphony, and it seemed a major concert career was in the offing. But later that same year, she married Dr. Henry Harris Aubrey Beach, a prominent New England physician. In respect to his wishes and the custom of the day for women in high society, Mrs. H.H.A. Beach curtailed her concert career and concentrated instead on writing music. Her first published work was a setting of a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, a long-time family friend.

Only after her husband’s death in 1911, did Amy revive her career as a concert pianist with a concert tour throughout Germany, returning to America at the outbreak of World War I. In her later years, she acted as mentor to a whole new generation of American women pursuing careers in music. She died in New York in 1944.

Music Played in Today's Program

Amy Beach (1867-1944) Piano Concerto in c#, Op. 45 Joanne Polk, piano; English Chamber Orchestra; Paul Goodwin, cond. Arabesque 6738

Additional Information

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