Amy Beach’s “Gaelic symphony”

Amy Beach’s highly polished Gaelic symphony represents her triumph over 19th-century women’s socialization and her honest desire to present a feminine image worthy of imitation.

After the work’s 1896 premiere Beach was described by the critic Philip Hale as “an epoch maker who has broken through old boundaries and presented an enrichment and expansion of woman’s sphere in art.” Even the Boston Brahmin composer George Whitefield Chadwick wrote, in a letter to her, “I am pleased that an American and a woman can produce such strong and beautiful musical ideas . . . You are now one of the boys.”

This according to “Amy Beach: Muse, conscience, and society” by Susan Mardinly (Journal of singing LXX/5 [May–June 2014] pp. 527–40).

Today is Beach’s 150th birthday! Below, the work’s finale.

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Filed under Romantic era, Women's studies

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