Beach's birthday; Kirchner on composing
Tuesday, September 5, 2006 at 09:18AM
Stephen Brookes

September 5, 2006

The redoubtable Amy Beach
Today's the 139th birthday of Amy Marcy Cheney Beach, America's first significant American female composer. Born in New Hampshire, Beach was a true prodigy; even as a young child she knew that "no other life than that of a musician could ever have been possible for me." But it wasn't easy -- she had to compose over the opposition of her family and husband, and the more general sexism of the times. 

She's best remembered for her songs,  her "Gaelic" Symphony in E minor, Op. 32 and her Concerto in C sharp minor, Op. 45, which she performed extensively in Europe after her husband died. Her music's well in the romantic tradition, and I'm not sure it's aged all that well.  But her role in music history is assured, and she has many admirers; here's Leopold  Stokowski's congratulatory note to her about the "Gaelic", which he had just performed.


magicflute.jpgBritish director and set designer Julian Crouch (who's responsible for the imaginative set of  "Jerry Springer: The Opera") has some sketches online for a production of The Magic Flute.  A few intriguing images; take a look.


                   Lauren Piperno
Pulitzer-winning composer Leon Kirchner on the wisdom that comes with age (he's 87), in an interview the other day with The Bend Weekly.

"Who am I talking to? I'm certainly writing for an audience," says Kirchner (who's been described as "the great romantic composer of the late 20th Century").

"For a time, 12-tone composers, who were also electronic composers, found that they could control music totally, and that it would be for them and their computer.

"I never felt that way, and I don't think they feel that way now, either. When they begin to age, they begin to hunger for the applause, and the notoriety." 

Ah yes -- the roar of the crowd, and the smell of the notoriety. 


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