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Profile of Amy Beach



September 5, 1867


Henniker, New Hampshire


December 27, 1944 in New York City

Also Known As:

Her full name was Amy Marcy Cheney Beach, also known as Mrs. H.H.A. Beach. She was a piano virtuoso, considered the first major American female composer and one of the leading composers of the New England School.

Type of Compositions:

Beach was famous for her songs; but she also wrote orchestral, chamber and choral music, both sacred and secular. She wrote pieces for the piano and keyboard as well as songs for voice. Amy Beach also wrote an opera called "Cabildo."


Her mother, Clara Imogene Marcy Cheney, started teaching her how to play the piano at age six. She later studied with fine teachers like Ernest Perabo, Carl Baermann, and Junius W. Hill;however, Beach was primarily self-taught. She had perfect pitch and showed great musical talent even as a child. At the young age of four, she can read four-part hymns and could compose music in her head then later translate it on the piano. She made her musical debut when she was 16 and in 1885, played with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Notable Works:

Some of her celebrated compositions are: "Gaelic Symphony," "Cabildo," "Mass in E-flat," "The Song of Welcome," "The Chambered Nautilus," "Eilende Wolken," "The Hermit Thrush at Morn," "The Hermit Thrush at Eve," "Dreaming," "Ah, Love, But a Day" and "The Year's at the Spring" (the last two are set to the poems of Browning)

Interesting Facts:

She married Henry Harris Aubrey Beach, M.D when she was 18. Her husband, who was 25 years older, convinced her to limit her public performances. However, she did manage to publish her works under the name Mrs. H. H. A. Beach. When her husband died in 1910, she decided to revive her career using her maiden name - Amy Beach. Her comeback as a concert pianist proved to be successful.

Music Sample:

Listen to "Dreaming" by Amy Beach from www.classicalmidiresource.com

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