Saturday, September 5, 2009

Amy Beach

Composer Amy Marcy Cheney Beach was born today in 1867 in New Hampshire. Her musical talent was apparent from an early age; reportedly she sang improvised harmony to her mother's melody line at the age of two, began composing (in some fashion or other) at four, and played her first piano recital at seven.

She composed in many different forms, symphony, opera, chamber music, choral music and songs, and of course a few hymn tunes. Many of her works have been recorded, though there are many more still to be heard by modern audiences.

Last year there were no performances of her choral work available for you to hear on YouTube, but one has finally turned up, her anthem Let this mind be in you (the text taken from Philippians 2:5-11, if you want to follow along). Thanks to the Gallery Choir of St. Peter's Catholic Church, Columbia, SC.

In 1921, Beach first went to stay for a period at the MacDowell Colony in her native New Hampshire, and she returned for many summer stays after that, eventually serving on the board of directors. Even during her final years, when her health rarely allowed her to leave New York, she made an effort to attend the official annual meetings. After her death in 1944, her will granted the ongoing proceeds from royalties on her copyrighted works to the colony.

One Year Ago: Amy Beach

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