Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Marion Bauer

In honor of Women's History Month, on specific days I will post a woman composer's photograph and bio.  Each of these composers was of the same era as Gena Branscombe and may have had a connection to her.

Today's composer.......Marion Bauer

Marion Bauer (1882-1955)

The youngest of seven children, Marion Bauer was born in Walla Walla, Washington.  Her musical talent was quickly recognized by her father, an amateur musician.  By age 16 she had graduated from high school and headed to New York City to begin her advanced musical training in composition. 

Fluent in French and English, Bauer spent time in Paris studying with Raoul Pugno and became the first American to study with Nadia Boulanger.  Upon returning to New York City, she studied with Eugene Heffley and Walter Henry Rothwell all the while teaching piano and theory lessons privately. 

Though never having been granted a college degree, Miss Bauer was hired to teach theory and composition at New York University where her teacher colleagues included Arthur Stoessel, who was Gena Branscombe’s conducting teacher.  Among her most famous students were Miriam Gideon and Milton Babbitt.  Bauer spent twelve summers at the MacDowell Colony concentrating on her own composing projects.  During the Depression she taught summer courses at Mills College, Juilliard and the Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati. 

Multi-tasking was one of Marion Bauer’s great attributes.  She helped found the American Music Guild, the American Music Center and the American Composer’s Alliance.  Along with Amy Beach, Gena Branscombe and 17 other women, they co-founded the Society of American Women Composers in 1925.  She wrote reviews and was a published author of articles and books on music. 

Her music is melodic featuring romantic and expressionistic harmonies.  She composed 160 works and wrote five books.  The publisher of her musical compositions was Arthur P. Schmidt of Boston, also Gena Branscombe’s publisher.  How all these women composers are connected!

At the College Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati is a beautiful room called, “The Bauer Room.”  When a student at the Conservatory I would enter this warm, carpeted room, look at the portrait of this woman Marion Bauer and at her desk and wonder who she was.  Over the years of researching Gena Branscombe, I came to learn about Marion Bauer and it has been a pleasure to meet her, though not in person.

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