Born in Leipzig, Johanna Beyer came to New York City in 1924. A mysterious "enigma" who led a solitary life with few friends, she nonetheless left over 50 compositions -- pieces that anticipated techniques and sounds half a century before their re-discovery by other composers -- many of which are still unperformed. She was also very active within the new music community, and studied composition with such notable moderns as Dane Rudhyar, Ruth Crawford, Charles Seeger, and Henry Cowell. Her death in 1944 of ALS ("Lou Gehrig's Disease") makes it likely that her reputation as an alcoholic resulted from the unfair assumptions of casual observers who mistook her symptoms for drunkeness.
Share this page