Monday, June 23, 2008

"Once in Love with Amy"

The San Francisco Public Library is planning an exhibit on Amy Beach and the time she spent living in San Francisco. This coincided with the premiere of her piano concerto, which is currently planned for the first concert by Symphony Parnassus this coming fall. Therefore, it seemed to make sense for me to haul out my copy of John Gillespie's Nineteenth-Century American Piano Music anthology, which has two of her Opus 15 Sketches (composed in 1892). I have started in on "Dreaming" (which I had attempted many years ago); and I am struck by the post-Liszt feel it has, almost in the spirit of Ferruccio Busoni. She has a wonderful feel for chromaticism (even if my sterner teachers would have called that technique "slimy"); and, at least in this languid work, she does not make me jump through the hoops I usually encounter in Busoni or, for that matter, Franz Liszt. This is not the first time I have tried to post "dispatches" as I attempt to get both mind and hands around a piece of music; but the timing seems right for doing it again!

1 comment:

Stephen Smoliar said...

I received electronic mail from one of my neighbors who detected and corrected an erroneous statement I made about Amy Beach's piano concerto. She provided me with the following correction: "As to the Concerto premiere, it was on April 7, 1900, Beach at the keyboard with the Boston Symphony on their home turf, 15 years before she played it in San Francisco on American Composers' Day at the Panama-Pacific International Exhibition on 8/1/1915." Having set the record straight on dates, I decided to check out the date for Busoni's piano concerto. It turns out to have been completed and published in 1904; so, in the grand scheme of music history, we could view it as a "contemporary." I know the Busoni only through my CD (performance requires a male chorus and the overall length is about the same as Beethoven's ninth symphony); but I suspect that my listening experience will be with me when I finally get a chance to hear the Symphony Parnassus performance of the Beach concerto!