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Classical Sprouts: Amy Beach

Composer Amy Beach was a lot of "firsts" - the first woman to have a symphony performed by a major orchestra, one of the first composers to train exclusively in the United States and more.

But she wasn't the first to be told she couldn't pursue her dream job because she was a woman.

That didn't stop her, though!

Born in a small, woodland New Hampshire town, Beach was already showing signs of exceptional musical talent by just two years old.

At four, she was playing the piano and starting to compose.

As a teenager, she gave popular public concerts with big-name musicians and ensembles like the Boston Symphony.

But when 18-year-old Amy Beach got married, her husband limited her studies and performances.

She continued to refine her compositional skills, though, absorbing all she could from books on music and composition.

As a young composer and wife expected to stay at home, Beach wrote piano music largely inspired by what was around her: nature.

Amy Beach outside

But in 1894, Beach turned to a larger-scale work - her "Gaelic" Symphony became the first symphony published by an American woman.

In the symphony, she used folk melodies and dances to represent the British Isles before the stately final movement, which Beach said she wrote to honor the Celtic people's "sturdy daily life, their passions and battles."

Amy Beach: "Gaelic" Symphony – IV. Allegro di molto

In 1910, Beach's husband, who was much older, died, leaving Beach with a substantial career ahead of her.

After he died, Beach, who had been going by Mrs. H. H. A. Beach, changed her name to Amy and dedicated herself fully and publicly to composition.

We'll walk you through some of her music on this week's episode!

Learn more about Beach, her "Gaelic" Symphony and the quizlet answer.

And listen to even more of Amy Beach's music on our Spotify playlist!

Be sure to subscribe to Classical Sprouts wherever you get your podcasts and follow @classicalsprouts on Instagram to join our inclusive community.

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Classical Sprouts is produced by Emily Duncan Wilson.

Kate Botello is a host and producer at Classical IPR.
Emily Duncan Wilson is IPR's digital content manager and is the producer of "Classical Sprouts" and "Kids Commute".