Her physician husband was also an amateur singer who wrote poetry which Amy set to music as songs whose themes she used in three movements of her Piano Concerto. One can imagine that the second movement is autobiographical, a comment on her husband’s prohibition of her pursuits, and a portent of things to come. She gives the vocal line of her song (his text; dedicated to Amy’s mother) “Empress of the Night” to the strings which is all but drowned out and quashed by the perpetuum mobile solo piano playing insistently atop it. Within ten years of her Piano Concerto's premiere (with the Boston Symphony Orchestra) her husband and mother died, releasing her from the restrictions they put on her. She then took advantage of this freedom to pursue her lifelong desire as a concert pianist with successful tours of Europe and America to great acclaim, including many performances of her Piano Concerto. For Amy Beach’s birthday today, it's our Midday Masterpiece today at 2:00 pm.
November 25, 2022