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7 - “Worthy of Serious Attention”

The Chamber Music of Amy Beach

from Part II - Profiles of the Music

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 October 2023

E. Douglas Bomberger
Affiliation:
Elizabethtown College, Pennsylvania
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Summary

If relatively modest in quantity, the chamber music of Amy Beach comprises a significant body of work that confronts meaningfully the churning countercurrents of her musical style. Chronologically, this repertoire falls into three groups, of which the first concentrates on works for violin and piano, culminating in the Violin Sonata, while in the second Beach explores a variety of other genres, including the piano quintet. The third and final group adds two late works, for piano trio and wind quintet. If this repertoire betrays clear enough references to Austro-Germanic traditions of chamber music, in particular to the music of Brahms (for example, Beach’s piano quintet exhibits examples of modeling from Brahms’s op. 34), it also reflects Beach’s ongoing efforts to expand the idea of American music, in part in answer to Dvorák’s “challenge” laid down in the “New World” Symphony. For Beach, the diversity of American music encouraged her to incorporate various popular sources, including Irish folk music and native Inuit music, into her own eclectic stylistic mixtures.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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