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Donald Macleod traces the impact of Beach’s marriage on her career as a composer and pianist.

Donald Macleod traces the impact of Beach’s marriage upon her career as a composer and pianist.

Amy Beach was born in the 19th century and, like all women composers of her generation, she found her path to greatness strewn with obstacles. This week, Donald Macleod charts her struggle to take control of her own destiny and become one of America’s most cherished cultural figures; a composer who helped lead her nation into the mainstream of classical music. Famed conductor Leopold Stokowski noted that her symphony was “full of real music, without any pretence or effects but just real, sincere, simple and deep music.”

Today’s programme traces the impact marriage had upon Beach both as a composer and a pianist. Although her husband encouraged her composition, she had to curtail her career as a concert pianist, performing in public only once a year. But the financial security of her marriage did allow for Beach to compose some of her most enduring works, including her famed Violin Sonata.

Ah, love, but a day, Op 44 No 2
Kate Royal, soprano
Malcolm Martineau, piano

A Prelude, Op 71 No 1
Katherine Kelton, mezzo-soprano
Catherine Bringerud, piano

When far from her, Op 2 No 2
Katherine Kelton, mezzo-soprano
Catherine Bringerud, piano

Come, ah come, Op 48 No 1
Katherine Kelton, mezzo-soprano
Catherine Bringerud, piano

Nunc Dimittis, Op 8 No 1
Harvard University Choir
Murray Forbes Somerville, conductor

Peace I leave with you, Op 8 No 3
Harvard University Choir
Murray Forbes Somerville, conductor

Violin Sonata in A minor, Op 34
Tasmin Little, violin
John Lenehan, piano

Symphony in E minor, Op 32 (Gaelic) (Allegro di molto)
Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Neeme Jarvi, conductor

Produced by Luke Whitlock, for BBC Wales

59 minutes

Music Played

  • Amy Beach

    Ah, Love, but a day (3 Browning Songs, Op 44)

    Performer: Malcolm Martineau. Singer: Kate Royal.
    • EMI 9485362.
    • EMI.
    • 14.
  • Amy Beach

    A Prelude, Op 71 No 1

    Performer: Catherine Bringerud. Singer: Katherine Kelton.
    • NAXOS 8559191.
    • 26.
  • Amy Beach

    When far from her, Op 2 No 2

    Performer: Catherine Bringerud. Singer: Katherine Kelton.
    • Naxos 8559191.
    • Naxos.
    • 3.
  • Amy Beach

    Come, ah Come, Op 48 No 1

    Performer: Catherine Bringerud. Singer: Katherine Kelton.
    • NAXOS 8559191.
    • NAXOS.
    • 3.
  • Amy Beach

    Nunc Dimittis, Op 8 No 1

    Choir: Harvard University Choir. Conductor: Murray Forbes Somerville.
    • ASV CDDCA1125.
    • ASV.
    • 12.
  • Amy Beach

    Violin Sonata in A minor, Op 34

    Performer: Tasmin Little. Performer: John Lenehan.
    • Chandos CHAN-20030.
    • Chandos.
    • 1.
  • Amy Beach

    Symphony in E minor, Op 32 (Gaelic) (Allegro di molto)

    Orchestra: Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Neeme Järvi.
    • CHANDOS : CHAN-8958.
    • CHANDOS.
    • 6.

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