Beach, Amy

Beach, Amy (Marcy b. Cheney)

(1867–1944) composer, pianist; born in Henniker, N.H. After serious piano studies, she made her professional debut in Boston, Mass., in 1884, and appeared the next year with the Boston Symphony. That same year she married Dr. H. H. A. Beach, who encouraged her shift to composing, even though she had little formal instruction in it. Her Gaelic Symphony, premiered by the Boston Symphony in 1896, was the first such work by an American woman, as was the Piano Concerto the orchestra premiered four years later (with the composer as soloist). Between 1910–14 she lived in Europe where she again gave piano concerts, usually of her own work. Employing a conservative, Romantic style, she composed over 150 works—many settings of well-known poets' works—and gained some prominence in Europe as well as in America; but she was continually hampered by the era's resistance to woman composers, expressed perhaps by the fact that she went through most of her public career known as "Mrs. H. H. A. Beach."