Amy March Cheney Beach was a legendary music composer and pianist and was the best woman composer at the time in the United States. As a woman, she defied all traditional conventions and set foot into a world of musical maestros to create some of the most notable works of her period. This made her the first successful woman composer. She was well known for her large repertoire of musical and solo achievements and went on to stun the world with her complex styles of music composition and symphonies. .
Some of her well known milestones are songs such as the ‘The three years at the spring’. Her other creations included choral pieces and symphonies such as the ‘Gaelic Symphony’ making her the first ever woman in history to work on these genres. With countless solos, operas and performances all over the world, Amy Beach went on to become one of the most influential musical artists of all time. Read on for more on her magical journey to stardom.
Amy Marcy Cheney was born in the cozy little town of Henniker, New Hampshire, on September 5, 1867. Born to a wealthy New England house, Amy took after her mother, Clara Imogene, who was an extremely talented pianist and an amateur singer at her time. Such was the influence that, even by the age of one, Amy had memorized over forty songs.
She began composing her own hymns and waltzes with simple symphonies at the age of five. Her mother, recognizing her dedication for music, encouraged her to take piano lessons with her at the age of six. Amy was ready for her first performance the next year and captivated audiences with her enthralling performance by playing the works of Chopin, Beethoven, Handel along with some of her unique compositions.
The ‘Beach’ family moved to Boston in 1875 and local piano teachers, Ernst Perabo and Carl Baermann, were appointed as Amy’s piano trainers. Amy preferred to be self-taught and did not resort for formal training until she met Junius W. Hill, under whom she studied counterpoint and harmonies for a year, at the age of fourteen. She liked to experiment with her music and motivated herself to study classical pieces on her own. Her natural instincts, skills and her flair for creativity brought her out as a person who liked to create more than follow.
Amy’s education was also home centered like her musical training. Her mother realized it was imperative for her to have some educational backbone apart from music and hence, homeschooled her for six years. Beach then went to a private school where her favorite subjects where in the arts and life sciences department and she particularly took a strong liking to science; she also enjoyed languages such as French and German.
Beach looked for a professional, promising, performing career and embarked on a long journey that began with her musical debut in the year 1883 at one of Boston’s reputed theaters. This was her first ever concerto performance under a lavish orchestra conducted by Adolf Nuendorff and gained her the recognition and laurels which set her on a path of successful performances galore. Amy gave multifarious performances from 1883 to 1885 in Boston and transitioned into a blooming artist. In 1892, she stunned audiences with her first ever orchestral composition called ‘Mass in E-flat major’, numbered Opus 5. This was performed by the Handel and Haydn Society and was very well received by critics and listeners.
She continued composing and writing works such as ‘EilendeWolken’, ‘Festivale Jubilate’, and her first symphony known as the ‘Gaelic Symphony’ was completed in 1896. It was the first ever symphony to be written, composed and performed by an American woman and it became irrevocably popular. Before the death of her husband, Amy beach also gave a lot of importance and encouragement to struggling musicians and held events at her house every Wednesday, to launch them into the world on music.
Beach died of a chronic heart disease on December 27, 1944 in her New York home. The magnitude of her character and heart was seen when she decided to allocate a large part of her will to MacDowell colony. She was one of the most renowned artists of her time, and went on to inspire thousands of upcoming talents. The sad part is however, that her legacy failed to continue posthumously. Amy beach was also given a prestigious place in the American classical Music hall of fame in the year 1999.
Until tomorrow: The true method of knowledge is experiment.