Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Block, Adrienne Fried. “A ‘Veritable Autobiography’? Amy Beach’s Piano Concerto in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 45.” The Musical Quarterly 78 (Summer 1994): 394-416.

When Beach claimed that a composition may be “a veritable autobiography,” she may have had her Piano Concerto in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 45 in mind, as it borrows from three of her own songs. The text, dedications, and dates of composition suggest that Beach was unhappy with socially constructed constraints on women in music. As a virtuosic pianist, she preferred to be a performer; however, her mother and her husband favored a more private lifestyle and strove to withhold Beach from performing. Her husband in particular advocated that Beach focus on composition instead. Consequently, by 1897 when the piano concerto was composed, Beach was one of America’s foremost composers. The text of the three songs used in the piano concerto, Jeune fille et jeune fleur, Empress of Night, and Twilight, was crucial in Beach’s formation of the melodies; she would repeat the texts until music formed from the words. Thus, the meanings of the texts used in a concerto on the instrument Beach was forbidden to play in public can create a hermeneutical extramusical reading of her piano concerto.

Works: Amy Beach: Piano Concerto in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 45.

Sources: Amy Beach: Jeune fille et jeune fleur, Op. 1, No. 3 (401-4), Empress of Night, Op. 2, No. 3 (404-7), Twilight, Op. 2, No. 1 (406-11).

Index Classifications: 1800s

Contributed by: Devin Chaloux

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