Friday, December 13, 2019

4 Wild Women Musicians Who Made History

By Jacqui Nelson

Details about (and pictures of) many 19th-century woman musicians are scarce, but this month I found these four historic ladies who excelled at their craft: Amelia Muller Fay, Carrie Belle Wilson Adams, Caroline B. Nichols, and Amy Marcy Cheney Beach.

Amelia Muller Fay
(born 1844 in Bayou Goula, Louisiana) 
Amelia (or Amy as she was also called) was a concert pianist who studied extensively with the most prominent teachers of Europe. In 1880, she published a memoir called Music Study in Germany. In Boston, she performed piano conversations (recitals preceded by short lectures) and in New York, she was the manager of the New York Women's Philharmonic Society.

Carrie Belle Wilson Adams
(born 1859 in Oxford, Ohio)
Carrie was a musical child prodigy who performed in concert for the first time at age seven. From 1887 to 1896, she was employed as a professor of music at the Indiana State Normal School and also chaired the music department there. By the time of her death in Portland, Oregon, she had also become one of the most prolific American composers, completing 4,000 anthems, 12 cantatas, and 28 operettas during her lifetime.

Caroline B. Nichols
(born 1864 in Dedham, Massachusetts)  
Caroline was a violinist and conductor. In 1884 and 1888, she was a founding member of the Marion Osgood's Ladies Orchestra and Fadette Ladies Orchestra (known as the Fadettes of Boston). She led the Fadettes for more than thirty years and they played more than 6000 concerts. She eventually retired to train orchestra members and help other women be financially independent.

Amy Marcy Cheney Beach
(born 1867 in Henniker, New Hampshire)
Amy was the first successful American female composer of large-scale art music. Her "Gaelic" Symphony, premiered by the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1896, was the first symphony composed and published by an American woman. She was one of the first American composers to succeed without the benefit of European training, and one of the most respected and acclaimed American composers of her era.

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A life filled with music sounds rewarding, but I know every life has its unique challenges.

I'm having great fun challenging and rewarding my musically-talented heroines in my Songbird Junction series. All three women are strong in their own way. Lark, Oriole, and Wren definitely earn their happily-ever-afters. 

Click here to read more about my Songbird Sisters...and about Brynmor, Heddwyn, and Griffin Llewellyn too 🙂   

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kathleen Lawless said...

This is a great blog, Jacqui. I hadn't thought music about professional musicians in the Wild West days.

Elizabeth Clements said...

Wow, amazing women is right, Jacqui. Mind boggling, actually, at what each lady accomplished. Imagine writing over 4,000 songs, let alone the anthems. I so enjoyed reading about these accomplished ladies and can see how you were inspired to create talented musicians in your books.

craftydr said...

Awesome blog Jacqui. Very interesting to find four such talented women that really did something for women and the country all over. It's amazing to find those above the natural talents of pianists in that time since wealthy young ladies were expected to play the piano. Amazing stuff.

Renaissance Women said...

Music such a part of life. It is exciting that you shared the story of these women and that you are bringing music to your writing also. Doris

Zina Abbott Author said...

I have been enjoying this series you have published on the blog. Thanks so much. I hope there is more.