This weekend the Chamber Orchestra of the Springs in Colorado Springs, Colorado will be presenting their final concert of their season titled Timeless Voices and will feature the work of Mozart, Beethoven, and Amy Beach’s symphony.
Beach’s work, Symphony in E Minor, Op. 32, “Gaelic”, is the first symphony we know of composed by an American woman – and is considered by some to be one of the greatest American symphonies of the period. It is an important and impressive work that has been gaining in popularity in recent years – thanks in part to the new edition available through Women’s Philharmonic Publishing, and the 150th anniversary of Amy Beach’s birth.
The Program Notes offered by the Chamber Orchestra of the Springs provide excellent insight to the history of the work, and the challenges that Beach faced at the time:
Whatever the world lost by Beach abandoning her performing career, it gained by Beach concentrating on composition. But her success was hard-won. Though her husband was enormously supportive of her creative work, his support was conditional: He did not allow her to have a professional composition teacher, out of concern that her individuality might be overwhelmed. (Not to mention that, in an age when female composers were almost unheard-of, such a teacher would have been male, a possible source of concern for a middle-aged man with a very young wife.) No other composer of Beach’s era had so little contact with her peers, or had to figure out so much on her own.
Nevertheless, she persisted, and by 1893 was so well-respected in Boston that she was one of a group of American musicians invited to respond in the Boston Herald to Antonin Dvořák’s call for an American music based on African American melodies. No, she wrote; composers should look to their own heritage for their material: “We of the North should be far more likely to be influenced by the old English, Scotch, or Irish songs, inherited with our literature from our ancestors.”
Read the full program notes online here – and don’t miss the preview interview with Music Director Thomas Wilson:
The Chamber Orchestra of the Springs will perform Timeless Voices on Saturday, April 28 and Sunday April 29. Find out more information, and get your tickets in advance, here.