Issues for the Elderly

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Issues for the Elderly


Music is one of the arts that has been, is still and will continue being one of the cornerstones of different societies across the world. The idea of music or musical expressions is one that is difficult to trace its origin in nature from the prehistoric periods because there are no archeological evidences of music in the past. However, the clapping of hands in a certain rhythmic manner to express satisfaction is considered as one of the first musical ideas and expressions in the past. This paper has outlined the gendered aspects of Amy Beach's piece & Hermit Thrush at Eve. It also outlines a discussion of how 19th and 20th century opera might support the issues of domination of men in the operas.


Army is considered as one of the most talented composers and pianist as well. She is known as the first and significant American female composer and the leading composer of the “The New England School.” Army was very talented in diverse aspects of music ranging from composition, pianist as we as having a great vocal for most of her songs. This is evident by the time she stated music and most early musicians have often described him as a true prodigy. This is because she began music at an impeccable age with most musicians of that time acknowledging her musicians well. At the age of one year, Army Mercy is reported to have known up to forty songs, which she sang well with the correct wordings and pitch. By the age of two, she was more advanced and could countermelody to any melody that came from her mother since her mother was also a great singer.  In this way, Amy was given the great opportunity by her mother when she was young and the opportunity prepared her to be great musician in the years that followed.

By the age of four, Amy had advanced in music and could not only read a four part hymns at instance but was able to compose and write pieces (Briscoe 198). During the time, she wrote her first pieces. Even though Amy did not write her pieces on any pieces of material, she only wrote in the head, she could also play her pieces in the piano. In this way, Amy is the first youngest female who not only composed but also the youngest female to play a piano.  Amy then developed interest in playing piano because she could always use piano in most of her compositions. Piano was also necessary as a tool to develop accompaniments to her music because she did the pieces and the piano concurrently (Briscoe 198). She began her study on piano at the age of six when her mother searched for the best pianist trainer in Boston to train her. She succeeded in making her debut at sixteen and by 1885; she played with major orchestras of Boston.

At this point, Amy Marcy had advanced well in her music career and was categorized under the major musicians of the time though was just eighteen years (Briscoe 198).  Most musicians and fans appreciated her music since they enjoyed her style of playing music, which was unique since it was also influenced, by the peculiar system of playing her piano. During this time, her career was influenced much by the societal perception of women. This is because by then, women composers were difficult to find, moreover, at her age, it was obvious that it is not just talent but there is certain influence on her to study composition (Briscoe 199). Some people linked her study of music composition to the fact that her mother was also a composer. However, the most common view was that she was just talented. These views emerged because by this time, women composed mainly based on their feelings rather than on their intellect.

At this point onwards, her music career was influenced at a great deal by the view of the society on women with respect to concert and stage performances. At this time, the society did not take it with ease to see women especially the married ones going for concerts and leaving their husbands at home. For Amy, this did not affect her very much because she was not yet married. By the year 1885, she got married to an armature musician and a physician Beach Harris. Due to the perception of the society on women and music, Amy was told by her husband to limit her concerts to just few performances. Since she was talented and had passion for music, she never stopped music but diverted the strength to composing as her major focus. However, after the death of her husband, Army returned to the music landscape and held several performances and concerts in Boston (Briscoe 198).

Her efforts in composition and at the same time performing were very interesting, as she had developed excellent skills as a pianist.  All these had different effects in her music performance and composition and looked as positive or negative impacts with respect to her musical development.  As stated by Briscoe (198), “Her natural abilities made self-study a viable avenue hence; she learned orchestration, for example, by translating the famous treatise by Hector Berlioz.” In this way, she could learn and borrow much from the contemporary composers of the time thereby making her a perfect composer as well as a pianist. All these can be described as the positive effects of her work participation that nurtured and helped in the development of her career. However, the suggestion by her husband that she should take a break from concerts may have derailed her career as a performer but it provided her with a lot of time to compose and at the same time have time for her family.  A rare luxury that could be witnessed by a professional musician like her since the opportunity to be with your family is very rare for both the women as well as men does full compositional work.

Most of the musicians have described the work of Amy as being of both high quality as well as quantity especially her work in 1892 entitled “Hermit in eve” (Briscoe 199).  This is because she controlled greater number of fans not only in Boston but also in other nations where she performed and many people could come out to watch her. She is also the first woman in music to master the larger forms. This displays high understanding of the forms especially in the early days when trainers were few. This is demonstrated by her symphony in E., which is one of the first works done by an American in which she used the national themes in her composition. The use of national themes was a challenge to most composers of that time, however, Amy incorporated most aspects of the national themes in a more structured manner in which the message was often clear and that is why most Americans loved her music.

She also believed that because most of her citizens and audience were of Irish origin, the best source to draw from would only be the national themes so as not to limit her audiences and fans (Briscoe 198).  In this context, her work was a representative of every national in her country hence was able to command such big fans just like the experienced musicians and composers of the time. Most of the work done by Amy has remained popular not only in her country but also in other countries. In this century, her music is also gaining a lot of revolution due to the general interest in women’s music as well as the way in which her music was created.

Amy’s work was evident in most parts of the United States of America especially when she came back from England. She produced more than 115 songs that consisted of a variety of songs in different categories. These included piano pieces chorals as well as gospel and secular excluding the orchestras (Hinson 81). She was also talented in the piano accompaniments and a strange reversal of roles that were very useful for her as a composer as well as a performer. She was also known for her talent in writing supportive accompaniments that were useful and matched well with the vocals. This does not mean that she was poor in vocals; she had the best solo vocals that accompanied her pianos. Amy was also very sensitive in the way she composed and wrote her lyrics. She was sensitive to language that she used in music since she had a clear grasp of what her audients were and what they want to listen. However, in vocals, Amy had certain difficulties since she had to overcome the conflict between the looming tragedy and the Longfellow has rhymed quatrains and glumphingiambic meter (Briscoe 200). She therefore realized challenges in long melodic arcs and expressive prolongations as well with varying phrase lengths and up beat patterns (Kefee 118).

The work of Amy was not just, because she was talented but much of her work was inspired by the earlier women who came first. There were earlier composers especially in New York who initiated the idea of women. This was happening in the city of New York and in most legends; it is proposed that what happened in New York was so special with regard to women and music. It is also in the history that struggling against the conservative and the inhospitable music establishment, struck out their own way of forming their personal performance societies and enterprises to promote their work (Locke & Barr 239). During this time, the pioneers mainly the composers financed themselves at a time when the music industry was still very low. It is also believed that at this time most musicians lacked the necessary technologies and modern instruments that were necessary for the learning and the production of technology. Most composers could compose very good pieces but due to lack of accompaniments, they could not prosper and produce music.

Most composers in this era relied very much on the women. Even though women never worked on the forefront, most women worked behind the scenes. They could finance, organize, publish and promote the new music with energy and imagery. In this context, the music in the earlier time was mainly fostered by the women and hence had very significance in the American history in music (Locke & Barr 239). This impact was also identified by several British scholars who argued that America is the only country in which the nation’s music industry is mainly dominated by the women but behind the scenes. This feminist role is believed to have a great bearing on the modern world. This is attributed to the success of early women musicians such as Amy and her mother.

The impacts of women of New York’s new music are very interesting. They were the engineers of most successful music productions especially in New York yet they failed to prosper by then and hence had many difficulties when they started their venture into music. The concept of patronage was not evident in the United States of America by then; however, the works of Walton, Whitney as well as Wertheim were much evident especially in terms of financial and moral support. Even though this was good in supporting the talented artists who were not capable of financing their own, it derailed the development of talented women in America (Locke & Barr 240).

Beginning from the year 1910s as well as 1920s, things began to change and there was patron for the composers in the United States of America. Through the work of Elizabeth Sprague, it was now possible to finance both the concerts as well as the composers who were talented but lacked financial support. It was now easy for the young talented musicians who then lived only through concerts; it was now possible to live both on incomes from composing as well as from different concerts (Locke & Barr 242). This can be used to explain the dominance of the music industry majorly by the male artists and when Amy came, into the limelight, she was very successful and was seen as very talented.

The efforts of Wertheim’s were the most evident and are often described as the turning point for the talented musicians. Her first effort included the provision of finances to the organizations of composers who were well organized and focused mainly on the national theme (Locke & Barr 240). Apart from financial supports that she gave to the organized composers, she also contributed through writing of the journal modern music for a number of years. One of the individual composers who are known to be the central of assistance by Wertheim is Aaron Copland and hence was like a hub around which her patronage spun (Locke & Barr 241). Others like Walton also gave different support for the composers, which ranged from financial to technical supports that were important for the new composers.

However, according to McClary (152), women were not entirely absent from the traditional music composing and performing concerts. According to him, the women were not behind the scene as stated by Locke & Barr (239).  He also adds that certain women were actually highlighted as stars in operas. However, he acknowledges that in the western, operas were mainly dominated by the male characters and hence it was very difficult for the women to take part in an active capacity. He claims that it is not surprising either that operas tends to articulate sexual politics (McClary 152).


Development of the music industry has come along way from the earlier eras where classical music was the most popular in spiritual or religious ceremonies to the modern era in which romantic music take a big share of the industry. Unlike the modern music industry, the pioneers of music never used sophisticated musical instruments like the key boards and pianos, which have the piano lights and piano lamps. Amy beach had a great talent of music that emerged as early as one year and by six years, she could compose. However, this was a time when women were not dominant in the operas due to the failure of the previous women to take a forefront in composition and concerts but majorly worked behind the scenes.

Works Cited

Briscoe, James. New Historical Anthology of Music by Women. Bloomington: Indian University Press, 2004.

Hinson, Maurice. Guide to the Pianist’s Repertoire: Third Edition. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000.

Keefe, Simon. The Cambridge Companion to the Concerto. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

Locke, Ralph. & Barr, Cyrilla. Cultivating Music in America: Women Patrons and Activists since 1860. California: University of California Press, 1997.

McClary, Susan. Feminine Endings: Music, Gender and Sexuality. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002.









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