Amy Beach for the new generation: the effects of increased interest in Beach’s works on the current place in the performance canon of concerto for piano and orchestra in C sharp minor, op. 45
Amy Beach sets an example of musical activism and dedication to her art that has inspired and illuminated her successors. Beach’s music has particular significance considering that she is arguably the most notable female American composer-pianist. Thus, her Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in C sharp minor, Op. 45, a large-scale work that encompasses a wide range of emotions and musical form, deserves a more established place in the performance canon. At its premier, Beach’s concerto received a drastically different reaction than the premier of a piano concerto by her male contemporary, Edward MacDowell. I seek to explore the relative merits of the two works and to determine if any gender bias influenced their comparative canonization. The goal for this project is to argue that the Beach concerto should gain more presence in the modern performance canon based on its compositional merits. In addition, I seek to disseminate reactions to Beach’s concerto at its premier and those elicited by her works now; to examine trends in performances within the US, such as the recent performance of the Beach concerto at the University of Georgia in January 2017; and to motivate further scholarship and performances of Beach’s concerto.