Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Music (MM)


Musicology (Music)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Melissa J. de Graaf

Second Committee Member

Deborah Schwartz-Kates

Third Committee Member

Paul Wilson


This thesis presents an integrated assessment of the life and music of Johanna Beyer (1888-1944) through a combination of socio-cultural and musical analysis. It examines the composer?s biography in the context of the New York music scene in which she participated and the social and cultural paradigms of her time. Contemporary conceptions of gender and sex had a particularly strong impact on Beyer?s work and the reception of her music. Ideologies concerning gender, sex, work, composition and modernism intersected in a variety of ways in her life and music; these issues are examined extensively in Chapter Two. Because gendered thought was so instrumental in obscuring the work of this important composer, Chapters Three and Four provide a thorough and synthesized analysis of Beyer?s music that has thus far been denied to her. These chapters discuss both the composer?s dissonant, ?ultra-modern? music and her later tonal music, exploring elements of continuity and change in her oeuvre. The thesis rejects earlier interpretations of Beyer?s work as disjointed and argues that it is instead the product of a constantly evolving composer.


Dane Rudhyar; Dissonant Counterpoint; Ultra-modernism; Woman Composer; Gender; Female Composer; Johanna Beyer