Amy Marcy Cheney Beach (1864-1944) was a pianist and a child prodigy.  But she was also a girl, and thus wasn’t encouraged to pursue her dream of becoming a concert pianist, in spite of her brilliant and remarkable talent.  When she was 18, she married a surgeon named Henry Harris Aubrey Beach, 24-years her senior, who believed it to be unladylike for women to perform in public, especially at a piano.  He forbade Amy to perform concerts and recitals, except for once a year, and she was required to donate her fee to charity.  As well, during her marriage, she became known as Mrs. H.H.A Beach.

 While married, Amy turned her attention to composition.  Shortly after her husband passed away, she wrote a Prelude and Fugue based on the letters of her name:  A-B-E-A-C-H (H being B-natural in the German language), in A Minor, with a pedal tone of A throughout the piece.  I hear this piece as though she is saying “I’m AMY!  I’m AMY!” and reclaiming her identity as a pianist, composer and musician.  Beach was the first woman to publish and have a symphony performed.  A real trailblazer.