The choral music of Amy Beach



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Texas Tech University


Amy Beach, also known as Mrs. H.H.A. Beach (1867-1944), was highly regarded and acclaimed in her own time as America's first female composer of repute. Her works fell into relative anonymity following her death. The atmosphere of interest in women's rights and achievements in our own time has occasioned a resurrection of Amy Beach's works. She is considered today to be one of America's finest composers. Studies and performances have been done of some of her large instrumental works, her piano and vocal solo works, and chamber works, but her fairly large output of choral works has not been studied.

This dissertation is the first comprehensive study of Amy Beach's choral works. It summarizes the best available knowledge concerning her life and work and articulates the importance and position of her choral works in relation to her other compositional activity. It also places her choral works in the historical context of 20th century American choral music.

Through a general survey and a detailed analysis of specific works, this study summarizes Amy Beach's choice of forms, texts, harmony, melody, and texture, in order to ascertain a general style and show style development. The dissertation also explores the suitability of Amy Beach's choral music for today's professional, college, community, and high school groups in relation to {1) relevancy of text and harmonic style to the times, and (2) difficulty factors. A listing of works, publisher or location information, and a discography is included.