>People here in the states who listen to "All Things Considered" will
>recognize it instantly.
Is that true? Will they? Did they? (Perhaps Mimi's statement stopped
further replies to or contrary to that effect.)
>It was written by a woman, and it's a quintet ...
>I have logged in my share of ATC hours, but I don't get the reference.
I'm privately polling people not on this list, too, people I know who
are either classical musicians or listeners, and so far about 80% of
the respondents name the ATC theme.
I confess that my main motivation here was to test for that very thing.
This might be an old story for some of you, but not to all, evidently.
Please share your opinions. Feel free to email me privately, if you'd
>However, a Brahmsian sounding quintet written by a woman can only be
>by Amy Beach
Nope, it could be (and is) by another.
Any more guesses before we give it away?
I'll say a bit more. Over a year ago I asked here for the names of
"famous" female composers, and I got some great replies, for which I am
indebted to you all. As a secondary result, there was some debt to my
credit card company for all the CD's I subsequently purchased. One of
those CD's contained the "mystery piece".
When I played the CD in question a nd heard the theme, I practically
jumped out of my chair. I could instantly hum along with it but I had
no idea what it was. It probably took an hour of wracking my brain
before the ATC theme finally dawned on me. If you want a comparison,
at the link below is the ATC theme. Start with the 1976 version. (The
mystery quintet is linked again below it, for your convenience and further
>Without having listened to the sample, this can only be one piece, a
>favorite of mine. I know the ATC theme music as well. Ironically, ATC
>does not credit the composer Mimi cites, but claims this is original
>music, even though the theme is note for note the same as the "mystery"
The melody is indeed almost note for note, at least at the start.
The quintet is in E, the ATC theme in C, but structurally, the melody
of first two measures are practically identical, even if not absolutely
so. The two diverge somewhat over the next six measures, but even the
key changes, though in different places, are very similar, with the very
same notes used in each (once the primary difference in keys is accounted
This raises, I think, the awkward and uncomfortable question of how one
accounts for the similarities. A woman I know is convinced it is outright
theft by someone who thought that an "obscure female composer" wouldn't
be recognizable. I do not (want to) believe it is so sinister. The
author of the theme knew this was going to be played on the radio, so
it would seem very risky to use something that could be recognized. (The
relative lack of notice through the intervening years contradicts that,
I believe it is either an enormous coincidence (the odds of which I
couldn't begin to guess) or something I suspect happens a lot, which
is that the author of the ATC theme had heard this quintet but paid no
special attention to it, after which it resurfaced from his subconscious.
Because it was not well-known, he did not recognize it and neither did
the people whom he played it for, and he thought it was his own.
I once "discovered" a lovely melody that way. Too bad it turned out
to be Mozart. Are there any famous instances of this sort of thing (or