Nineteenth-century composer Amy Beach is one of the first of her gender to successfully compose in the large orchestral forms. She was also one of the first American musicians to be trained entirely in the U.S and receive international acclaim. Incredibly, these achievements took place against the backdrop of a patriarchal society that confined women to the domestic sphere. Also, in the musical community, large orchestral forms were considered the exclusive creative property of men and any women who attempted them were immediately ascribed the status of a dilettante. In order to illustrate Amy’s unique place in this setting, I compare her life and accomplishments to that of a well-known European contemporary, Clara Schumann. Amy’s life is not the narrative of a feminist overcoming the patriarchal system, but one of a woman who used her social advantage to pursue the art she loved with a determined and humble spirit.
Bacon, Ariel Foshay, "Amy Beach: Tenacious Spirit" (2012). B.A. in Music Senior Capstone Projects. 1.
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