Amy Marcy Cheney Beach (September 5, 1867 – December 27, 1944) was an American composer and pianist. She was the first successful American female composer of large-scale art music. Most of her compositions and performances were under the name Mrs. H.H.A. Beach. She was born in Henniker, New Hampshire into a distinguished New England family. A child prodigy, she moved to Chelsea, Boston, in 1871, where her parents hired Ernst Perabo and Carl Baermann as piano teachers. At age fourteen, Amy received her only formal training in composition with Junius W. Hill, with whom she studied harmony and counterpoint for a year. Other than this year of training, as a composer Amy was self-taught. Following her marriage in 1885 to Dr. Henry Harris Aubrey Beach – a Boston surgeon 24 years older than she – she devoted herself to composition. After her husband died in 1910, she toured Europe for three years as a pianist, playing her own compositions. She returned to America in 1914, where she spent time at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire. Beach later moved to New York City. A member of the “Second New England School” or “Boston Group,” she is the lone female considered alongside composers John Knowles Paine, Arthur Foote, George Chadwick, Edward MacDowell, George Whiting, and Horatio Parker. Her writing is mainly in a Romantic idiom, often compared to that of Brahms or Rachmaninoff. In her later works she experimented, moving away from tonality, employing whole tone scales and more exotic harmonies and techniques.
"Prelude on a Old Folk Tune ("The Faire Hills of Eiré, O")" was published by the H. W. Gray company in 1943. It is a moving work based upon the traditional Irish melody.
After a long tonic pedal point, the work begins to build and becomes more and more impassioned. Orchestrally conceived, it is well-written for the organ, and is only "awkward" in a few brief spots.