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Bauer, Harold Victor (28 April 1873–12 March 1951), concert pianist and music educator, was born in New Malden, Kingston-upon-Thames, England, the son of Victor Bauer, a public accountant, and Mary Taylor Lloyd. His first piano teacher was his aunt and his first violin teacher his father. After making an initial decision to concentrate on the violin, Bauer began formal study with the prominent London teacher Adolf Pollitzer. At age ten, he made his first “public” appearance as violinist at a private concert in London; for the next decade he gave public appearances both as a violinist and as a pianist. In the musical circles of London he met pianist Graham Moore, from whom he learned about the technique of piano playing, although at the time Bauer had no thought of discontinuing his career as a violinist....

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Bonds, Margaret Jeannette Allison (03 March 1913–26 April 1972), composer, pianist, and teacher, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of Dr. Monroe Alpheus Majors, a pioneering black physician, medical researcher, and author, and Estelle C. Bonds, a music teacher and organist. Although legally born Majors, she used her mother’s maiden name (Bonds) in her youth and throughout her professional life. She grew up in intellectually stimulating surroundings; her mother held Sunday afternoon salons at which young black Chicago musicians, writers, and artists gathered and where visiting musicians and artists were always welcomed. Bonds first displayed musical talent in her piano composition “Marquette Street Blues,” written at the age of five. She then began studying piano with local teachers and by the time she was in high school was taking lessons in piano and composition with ...

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Brown, Gertrude Foster (29 July 1867–01 March 1956), suffragist, concert pianist, and music educator, was born Gertrude Marion Foster in Morrison, Illinois, the daughter of Lydia Ann (or Anna) Drake and William Charles Foster, an agricultural commodities trader and real estate investor. At the early age of five, Gertrude displayed a talent for music by teaching herself to play short piano pieces that she had heard her older brother practicing. When she was twelve years old, she was hired as the organist for the local Presbyterian church, the first organist for that church ever to be paid a salary....

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Cowell, Henry (11 March 1897–10 December 1965), composer, pianist, writer, and educator, was born Henry Dixon Cowell in Menlo Park, California, the son of Harry Cowell and Clarissa Dixon Cowell. Both parents were aspiring poets and writers; Harry, an Irish immigrant, worked as a linotypist. At the age of five Cowell began studying violin and showed signs of talent, but the lessons seemed to affect his health adversely and were discontinued. His parents divorced in 1903. Between 1907 and 1910 he and his mother lived in New York, penniless while she tried to earn a living by her writing, and stayed with relatives in Iowa and Kansas. In 1910 they returned to Menlo Park, where Cowell took jobs such as herding cows to support himself and his mother. Around this time Cowell came to the attention of the psychologist ...

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Henry Cowell. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

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Diller, Angela (01 August 1877–30 April 1968), pianist and music educator, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of William A. M. Diller, a church organist and choirmaster, and Mary Abigail Welles. As a child, she played piano by ear; when she was twelve she began studying with Alice Fowler, whom she described as “an inspiring teacher” and with whom she studied until she was seventeen. Soon after that she took her first teaching position at St. John the Baptist School for Girls, a New York boarding school, where some of her pupils were her own age. Diller took students to New York Philharmonic concerts, first educating herself about the works to be played by studying scores borrowed from the public library so that she could discuss the music with her students....

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Dresel, Otto (20 December 1826–26 July 1890), pianist, teacher, and composer, was born in Geisenheim, Germany, the son of Johann Dietrich Dresel and Luise Ephardt, liberal and literate parents who raised him in an intellectual environment. Dresel studied with Moritz Hauptmann at Leipzig; he also had the friendship and guidance of Ferdinand Hiller in Cologne and of Felix Mendelssohn in Leipzig. He visited New York City in 1848, played in a series of concerts there in 1849, and was the first pianist in the chamber music concerts begun by Theodore Eisfeld in 1851. After a brief return to Germany in 1851, Dresel settled in Boston in 1852 and for more than fifteen years held his place as one of that city’s most prominent pianists. In his later years he made several visits to Germany to keep abreast of new activities in its musical centers....

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Fay, Amy Muller (21 May 1844–28 February 1928), pianist and musical activist, was born in Bayou Goula, Louisiana, the child of Charlotte Emily Hopkins and Charles Fay, both descended from prominent New England families. (She was christened Amelia but was known as Amy.) Her father, an Episcopalian minister, was the son of a leading judge, while her mother, the daughter of the first Episcopal bishop of Vermont, was herself a woman of great intellect. Amy grew up in St. Albans, Vermont, where her father opened a private school. She received her first musical instruction from her mother. After her mother’s death when Amy was twelve, she continued her music study with her older sisters, except for the summer of 1861, when she studied for a few weeks with Jan Pychowski at the normal school in Geneseo, New York....

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Foster, Sidney (23 May 1917–07 February 1977), concert pianist and teacher, was born in Florence, South Carolina, the son of Louis Foster, a jeweler, and Anne Diamond. Foster gave his first public performance at the age of five, and he soon became known as the marvel of Florence for his ability to compose music and to perform complete piano pieces based on just one hearing over the gramophone....

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Leopold Godowsky Photograph by Carl Van Vechten, 1935. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LOT 12735, no. 437 P&P).

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Godowsky, Leopold (13 February 1870–21 November 1938), pianist, teacher, and composer, was born in Soshly, a small town not far from Wilno (now Vilnius) in Lithuania, the son of Mathew Godowsky, a physician, and Anna Lewin, both Polish Jews. When his father died of cholera eighteen months after Godowsky was born, the boy and his mother moved to nearby Schirwinty. There Godowsky came under the influence of Louis and Minna Passinock, who were friends of his mother’s. Neither of Godowsky’s parents was musical; the childless Passinocks, however, were amateur musicians and enthusiastic music lovers, and they immediately recognized Godowsky’s nascent musical ability. Louis Passinock, a violinist who ran a secondhand piano shop, began teaching Godowsky to play the violin when he was seven years old. Passinock discouraged him from learning to play the piano, on the theory that there were too many pianists, but his wife recognized Godowsky’s affinity for the instrument and encouraged his keyboard explorations. Godowsky basically taught himself to play the piano; by the age of five he was so advanced that he could play the transcription of Felix Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E Minor. He later vividly described his early attraction to the piano. “With me,” he wrote in ...

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Graupner, Gottlieb (06 October 1767–16 April 1836), musician and music publisher, was born Johann Christian Gottlieb Graupner in Verden, Germany, the son of Johann Georg Graupner, an honored Hanover musician, and Anna Maria Agnesa Schoenhagen. He apparently bore no relation to famed composer Christoph Graupner of Darmstadt. At age fifteen Gottlieb followed his father’s profession and joined the nearby Hanover regiment as an oboist. After his father’s death Gottlieb was discharged in 1788 and traveled to London where, in 1791–1792, he performed under Joseph Haydn in the premieres of the first set of his “London” symphonies. Graupner then immigrated to the United States, probably through Prince Edward Island off the coast of Canada. He gained employment as a musician in a traveling Atlantic coast theater company on the West and Rignall circuit. In April 1796 he married Catherine Comerford Hillier, a widow with three children, a professional singer, and a member of the company. The Graupners settled in Boston in the winter of 1796–1797 and worked to improve the musical quality of Boston’s cultural life....

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Harris, Johana (31 December 1912–05 June 1995), pianist, composer, and teacher, was born Beula Aleta Duffey in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, the daughter of Claude Duffey, a grocery supplier, and Laura Coughlan. Before she was two, Harris climbed up on the parlor piano stool to play music she had heard the Royal Canadian Mounties Band play on Parliament Hill for the changing of the guard. Her mother, afflicted by familial deafness, couldn’t hear her playing exactly what the band had played, but she noticed the enchanted spectators watching her dance on the bandstand; consequently, she arranged Harris’s debut at the age of four as a professional dancer....

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Hewitt, Sophia Henriette (1799?–31 August 1846), organist, pianist, and music teacher, was probably born in New York, the daughter of James Hewitt, a violinist, composer, and conductor, and Eliza King. Sophia’s first music teacher was her father, and she made her performing debut at the age of seven in New York City on 14 April 1807, playing a piano sonata. She continued to play in public from time to time until she was twelve, when her father moved the family to Boston. There she occasionally appeared as a pianist and studied organ with George K. Jackson....

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Hommann, Charles (25 July 1803–?), musician, teacher, and composer, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of John C. Hommann, a musician, and Constantia (maiden name unknown). Hommann grew up in a home in which string music and German chamber music flourished. His father was a violinist, and his elder brother John C. Hommann, Jr., played the violin and cello. Hommann’s elder sister Constantia married ...

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Hughes, Revella Eudosia (02 July 1895–24 October 1987), musician, singer, and educator, was born in Huntington, West Virginia, the daughter of George W. Hughes, a postman, and Annie B. (maiden name unknown), a piano teacher and seamstress. At age five Hughes began studying piano with her mother and, at eight or nine, violin with a musician friend of her father’s. She attended Huntington’s segregated public schools. Disturbed when Hughes was racially harassed, her parents sent her to Hartshorn Memorial College (later part of Virginia Union University) in Richmond, which she attended from 1909 to 1911, graduating with a degree in music and elementary studies. She attended Oberlin High and Conservatory, graduating in 1915. In 1917 she earned a bachelor of music in piano from Howard’s Conservatory of Music, where she studied piano with LeRoy Tibbs and voice with conservatory director ...

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Johns, Clayton (24 November 1857–05 March 1932), composer, pianist, and teacher, was born in New Castle, Delaware, the son of James McCalmont Johns and Eliza Hopkins. Clayton received his early education at public and private schools in Delaware, including Rugby Academy in Wilmington. While his tradition-bound family envisioned for him a career in law or the clergy, he wished to pursue music. He compromised by studying architecture in Philadelphia (c. 1875–1879). He then moved to Boston to study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology but after hearing the Boston Symphony Orchestra, decided on music after all. He studied composition at Harvard University with ...

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Kroeger, Ernest Richard (10 August 1862–07 April 1934), organist, pianist, composer, and teacher, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Adolph Ernst Kroeger, a journalist, and Eliza B. A. Curren. He began studying piano with his father and later studied with Egmont Froelich, Waldemar Malmene, and Charles Kunkel. He studied music theory with Wilhelm Golder and Peter G. Anton, violin with Ernst Spiering, and instrumentation with Louis Mayer. He served as organist at several churches in St. Louis, including Trinity Episcopal (1878–1885), Grace Episcopal (1887), and Church of the Messiah (1885–1921). In 1879 he gave his first organ recital; then from 1893 to 1923 he performed an organ recital annually. He was also one of the founders of the American Guild of Organists in 1896. From 1893 to 1903 he served as the conductor of the Morning Choral Club and from 1910 to 1912 he directed the Amphion Club and was associated with other music societies. He was music director of Forest Park University from 1887 and head of his own Kroeger School of Music from 1904. He held both positions until his death. He served as president of the Music Teachers National Association in 1896 and then was president of the Missouri Music Teachers Association for two years (1897–1899). Kroeger was the master of musical programs for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in 1904 (also known as the St. Louis World’s Fair). He was a member of the French Academy from 1904 and was elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1915....

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Lewis, John (03 May 1920–29 March 2001), pianist, composer, and educator, was born John Aaron Lewis in La Grange, Illinois. His parents' names do not appear in readily available sources of information; reportedly, his father was an interior decorator (or, according to some sources, an optometrist), his mother a classically trained singer. After the death of his father, Lewis moved with his mother to Albuquerque, New Mexico, as a young child. By the time he was four, his mother had also passed away. Being raised mostly by relatives in a large musical family, Lewis at the age of seven began studying piano with his aunt. As a teenager he performed locally with his cousins and several older musicians. In 1938 he enrolled at the University of New Mexico, where he first majored in anthropology, then switched to music....

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Mannes, Clara Damrosch (12 December 1869–16 March 1948), pianist and educator, was born in Breslau, Germany (now Wroclaw, Poland), the daughter of Leopold Damrosch, a conductor, composer, and violinist, and Helene von Heimburg, a singer. The family, including three older children and an aunt, emigrated to New York City in 1871, when Leopold accepted the offer of the music directorship of the Arion Society, one of a large number of singing groups active in New York at that time....