“Jephthah’s Daughter” by Amy Beach: the Biblical World in the Words of a Woman

Keywords: Amy Beach, “Jephthahʼs Daughter”, Biblical plot.


The article examines from the positions
of musical content by means of analysis
of the musical and poetical the composition
“Jephthah’s Daughter” by Amy Beach,
an American composer of the late 19th
and early 20th century, a member
of the “Boston six” — a group of American
composers of the turn of the century,
also known as the New England School,
among which Amy Beach was the only woman.
“Jephthahʼs Daughter” is a concert aria
for voice and orchestra, which is interesting
in the context of the composer’s musical legacy,
as well as an exemplary composition of its era.
The aria is devoted to the Biblical subject
matter or, more precisely, the well-known Old
Testament plot of the sacrifice of the daughter
of the Israelite judge Jephthah. Besides
the analysis of the musical fabric, the article
examines the author’s approach to the subject
of the principle of the choice of the material
and the work with the textual sources —
the Biblical story and the French poem,
which comprised the basis of the aria’s text.
As a result, the conclusion is arrived at about
the composer’s artistic intentions and about
the conceptual component of the work.
The article contains information about Amy
Beach’s biography, her artistic approach,
her attitude to religious subject matter
and social problems of the society
contemporary to her, in particular, the issues
of equal rights for women.

The Art of Music