Amy Beach – Classical female composers – Part four

Amy Marcy Cheney Beach 1867-1944, was an American composer and pianist. She was the first successful American female composer of classical music for larger orchestras. A remarkable child, she was able to sing 40 tunes by age one; she could improvise a countermelody to any melody her mother sang by age two and began composing simple waltzes at five years old. She gave her first public performance at age 7, including works by Handel, Beethoven, and Chopin.

After marrying, she reduced her number of public performances, out of respect for her husband’s wishes, and turned her concentration to composition. Beach’s compositional style was late Romantics. She was disciplined in her composition, often producing massive amounts of music in a matter of days.

Several of Beach’s compositions were commissioned for events and organizations, including the dedication of the Women’s Building of the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, the Trans-Mississippi Exposition in Omaha, the International Exposition in San Francisco and the San Francisco Chamber Music Society. The range of commissions indicates that interest in Beach’s music was not limited to the Boston area. In fact, many consider her to be the most successful American female composer.

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