The first American woman composer to prove successful in larger orchestral forms, Amy Beach, after her marriage, restricted her concert appearances as a pianist in order to comply with her husband’s desire that she concentrate on composition. After the death of her husband she resumed her successful performance career.
Beach’s Gaelic Symphony of 1896 drew on Irish thematic material as a source and model, a reflection of her own ancestral background. Her Piano Concerto of 1899 formed part of her concert repertoire, making some use of melodies taken from her own songs.
Beach’s chamber music includes a Sonata and various other pieces for violin and piano, a Piano Quintet, Piano Trio and other works.
Amy Beach, a pianist herself, wrote a number of works for the instrument, including character pieces typical of the time as well as more formal works.
Amy Beach was most generally known to a wider public for her songs, some 117 in number, works that always show a strong feeling for the texts set. Some of these are French, some German, and others are by poets such as Longfellow, Shelley, Burns and Browning, as well as by her husband (Dr Henry Harris Aubrey Beach).