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I confess that I'm not too familiar with the works of Amy Beach, but she's apparently among the first female American composers who wrote large-scale art music. I was struck by the lush, beautiful orchestration and harmony in the beginning of this movement (the rest of the movement is a pretty standard set of variations), and I wanted to share it. What do you think of it?

 

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Love Amy Beach!  There's a good biography of her by Adrienne Fried Block if you wanted to learn more about her.  She had an interesting life and was writing interesting music for her place and time.  Weirdly, we owe her some of her career as a composer to her arranged marriage.  Her parents married her off to a man older than her father and part of the deal they made was that she would not have children (I'm not sure if that was the husband's stipulation or the parents, but apparently it was against her wishes), and would give up her career as a soloist.  Her husband liked the idea of having a pet musical genius in the house, but for her to perform publicly professionally, as she had been doing before her marriage (she premiered as a piano soloist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at age 16), was considered unfitting for an upper-class married lady.  Regular touring ceased, but she was allowed two performances a year, provided all the proceeds went to charity, and pushed to concentrate on her compositions instead, quietly, and at home.  When he died, she immediately went on a concert tour of Europe.  

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