Gulf Coast Chamber Orchestra: Gaelic Symphony
Gaelic Symphony, also known as Symphony in E Minor, Op. 32, was written by American composer Amy Beach (1867-1944). The symphony premiered October 30, 1896 in Boston and was the first symphony by an American woman composer to gain international attention. Beach composed the symphony in response to Dvorak’s exhortation to American composers to explore their musical and cultural roots. Dvorak suggested that even distinctly American sounds included elements of other cultures, such as Native American and African American. Beach, with her Irish immigrant background, drew inspiration from the “simple, rugged, and unpretentious beauty” of traditional Irish folk melodies, interwoven with one of her own art songs, Dark is the Night. An energetic first movement leads to a lyrical yet lively second movement with variations on a theme. For the third movement, Beach set two nostalgic Irish themes in counterpoint, heard simultaneously, before returning to the original opening theme for the final movement in much greater dramatic expression.