HOME       CONTACT
Virginia Eskin, pianist
Biography

Mrs. H.H.A. (Amy Beach)Mrs. H.H.A. (Amy) Beach (1867-1944)

Ballad in D flat, Op. 6
Valse Caprice, Op. 4
Nocturne, Op. 107
Prelude and Fugue, Op. 81
Four Sketches, Op. 15
Hermit Thrush at Even, Op. 92, No. 1
Hermit Thrush at Morn, Op. 92, No. 2
Suite for Two Pianos on Irish Melodies, Op. 104
Virginia Eskin and Kathleen Supovée, pianos

Beach's virtuoso works for piano range from the technically playful to the digitally exhausting.

 

Even though Amy Beach (1867-1944) was born, bred and educated in New England, she did not believe in an "Americanist" school, but in a "universal style freely drawing on the musical tradition of all European countries."1 She explored virtually all forms of musical composition, from the largest (Mass with orchestra, symphony, piano concerto, oratorios) through chamber music (piano quintet, trio, one-act opera) to art-songs, character-pieces for violin and numerous works for piano. Very early, Beach found music a driving force in her life, composing expressively at age five. Following acclaim as piano-soloist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at age 18, she went to Dr. H.H.A. Beach for treatment of a hand injury and married him the same year. During the 25 years of their marriage, 1885-1910, she composed most of her major works.

At the time of her marriage, Amy Beach was widely recognized as an extraordinarily gifted pianist. However, apart from benefit performances, her husband discouraged her public career, and so she turned her full attention to composing. As already indicated, she turned out a remarkable quantity and variety of music. She was the first American woman to compose a symphony and the first woman composer whose works were performed by major orchestras in the U.S., including the Boston Symphony and orchestras in Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Buffalo, Kansas City and many other cities. Following her husband's death, Amy Beach returned to the concert stage. She toured Europe as a soloist during the period 1911-1914, and thus during this period and the following decades, she occupied the status of one who played with and whose works were played by many of the world's greatest orchestras. "By the end of her career, she was regarded as the doyenne of women composers."2

Any recording can offer only a scant sampling from this prolific pioneer composer. For newcomers to Beach, I hope this recording will provide a new source of musical pleasure. For those who know her work, I trust old favorites will be welcome.


Footnotes
1. Vol. 2, New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Macmillan (London, 1980) Essay on Amy Beach by Judith Tick.
2. Vol. 2, New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Macmillan (London, 1980) Essay on Amy Beach by Judith Tick.

 

Contents

Ballad in D flat, Op. 6

Valse Caprice, Op. 4

Nocturne, Op. 107

Prelude and Fugue, Op. 81

Four Sketches, Op. 15

  • In Autumn
  • Phantoms
  • Dreaming
  • Fireflies

Hermit Thrush at Even, Op. 92, No. 1

Hermit Thrush at Morn, Op. 92, No. 2

Suite for Two Pianos on Irish Melodies, Op. 104
Virginia Eskin and Kathleen Supovée, pianos

  • Prelude
  • Old-time Peasant Dance
  • Ancient Cabin
  • Finale