Hilary Tann (b.1947) was born in Wales and is now based in upstate New York. Her music is influenced by her love of her homeland, her strong identification with the natural world and an interest in the traditional music of Japan.
The ancient Celtic story about 'The Song of Amergin' dates back to the Milesian invaders of Ireland (from the Iberian Peninsula) in around 1530 BC. The then rulers of Ireland asked for a three-day truce during which the Milesians should lie at anchor nine waves' distance from the shore. A magical storm was conjured up in an attempt to drive the invaders away but the Milesian druid Amergin sang an invocation and was able to part the storm and bring the ship safely to land.
Amy Marcy Chene-Beach (1867-1944) was a child prodigy; she was able to sing forty tunes accurately aged just one and at four began composing. She began piano lessons at six and at fourteen received her only formal training in composition; one year of harmony and counterpoint with Junius W. Hill. London-born Sally Beamish (b.1956) was taught to read and write music by her mother at the age of four and began composing almost immediately. At five she took up the piano and later the violin, changing to viola at fifteen. Successful careers as violist and composer ran happily side-by-side until the theft of her viola and a move to Scotland (both in 1989) helped her decide to concentrate on composing. Composition teachers have included Oliver Knussen, Luciano Berio, Lennox Berkeley, and Harrison Birtwistle.
Born in Edinburgh in 1928, Thea Musgrave initially studied at University there and later with Nadia Boulanger at the Paris Conservatoire. On returning to Britain she quickly became a prominent member of British musical life. In 1970 she became a Guest Professor at the University of California and has lived in America since 1972. Jean-Louise Dumont-Farrenc (1804-1875) showed musical talent from an early age and at fifteen began studies with Anton Reicha, composition teacher at the Paris Conservatoire. Whilst there, she met Aristide Farrenc, a flute student ten years her senior. They married when Louise was seventeen and she discontinued her studies in order to perform throughout France with her husband.