I learned the basics of music theory from rudimentary guitar lesson books. I never followed a symphonic score. Beach studied piano seriously, becoming a noted concert pianist before she ever began composing. I was not allowed piano lessons; I took up the guitar because it was something I could learn on my own.

Throughout the research and early phases of writing this book, my sense of inadequacy to analyze or express any opinion about Beach’s music have become huge aspects of my writing about Amy Beach: I have had to force myself to find ways to become confident enough to express myself. My struggle for that confidence is working thanks in great part to the role model that Amy Beach has become for me. Like a muse and mentor, she resides in my mind’s eye, watching over my shoulder as I type or make my computer music and animations, nodding her approval and pushing me on. Sometimes I fancy that she creases her eyebrows in disapproval, but I carry on, knowing that she needs me to. My muse is not the diminutive angelic lyrical child Amy, but a bulky grey clad matronly 19th century school marm, staring at my computer screen, nodding or shaking her head. No matter how scary it gets, I simply can’t wimp out on her. That would be disrespectful of her memory and legacy.

Beach’s compositions were not deeply analyzed during her lifetime, but a resurgence of interest in her music during the mid to late 1990s provoked a few music scholars to take a closer look at her work. Nicholas Tawa was one of those scholars.

Beach’s Gaellic Symphony in E Minor (1894) . . . is notable for its gravity, dynamism, and innate power. . . . (Tawa 212). continues on page 7, Working Powerfully