Beach was a composer who was born during the era where questions such as “can a woman become a great composer?” by Louis Elson, a member of the New England Conservatory, were asked. She had completed more than three hundred compositions and a record of pioneering achievements. Further, she was both an excellent performer and composer as she was the first American- trained concert pianist, part of the first generation of professional American female instrumentalists, and the first woman to compose large- scale works for the concert hall. She was also one of the first to use folk melodies to help create a distinctively America style.
Edward MacDowell, on the other hand, was certainly gifted like Amy Beach, but had far more opportunities to present this without facing harsh criticism. By the age of 24, German publishers had published his works and by the age of 29, he premiered his Piano Concerto no. 2, and gave more focus to composing. MacDowell also was keen to figure out the direction of American music, so he then started working on his music in such a way that he treated his country as the equivalent of a peripheral European nation and brought the landscape and indigenous American materials into this own European- based style.
A completely different approach to the question of nationalism from MacDowell’s composition was becoming evident to the miniscule number of people who had an opportunity to hear the thoroughly original music of another New England composer, Charles Ives. Unconnected with New York’s public musical life, Ives composed mainly in private. By being exposed to his father’s unusual musical schemes, Ives learned that euphony was not the only kind of harmony that had to comprise songs, but rather two levels sounding at the same time offered wide possibilities for focusing one’s ear, and that even popular and familiar songs like that of Stephen Foster could be defamiliarized.
According to Ives’s musical philosophy, sounds could never reflect more than part of a composition’s essence. Paradoxical blasts in these pieces were his response to the attitude that composers should tailor their music to the performers. His songs profoundly use layering to which is added a sense of multiple voices speaking through the music, the human voice of the singer and the voices of nature in the piano’s complex texture. He composed in the classical sphere, but with repeatedly quoted melodies from the popular and traditional spheres. Ives combined tunes such as “Battle cry of freedom”,…