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Dillon, Fannie Charles

The Grove Dictionary of American Music
Carol Neuls-BatesCarol Neuls-Bates

Dillon, Fannie Charles (b Denver, CO, 16 March 1881; d Altadena, CA, 21 Feb 1947). Composer, pianist, and teacher. 

After graduating from Pomona College, Claremont, California, she moved to Berlin where she studied the piano with leopold Godowsky (1900–06) and composition with Hugo Kaun and Heinrich Urban; she later studied composition with rubin Goldmark in New York. Dillon made her debut as a pianist in Los Angeles in 1908 and subsequently gave concerts on the West and East coasts of the United States. On 9 February 1918 she played her own works at a piano recital for the Beethoven Society of New York. She was a member of the music faculty at Pomona College (1910–13) and from 1918 until her retirement in 1941 taught in Los Angeles public schools. In 1921, 1932, 1936, 1942, and 1944 she was in residence at the MacDowell Colony.

The musical language of Dillon's early works (chiefly piano music) owes much to late 19th-century Romanticism, but by the time of her Eight Descriptive Pieces (1917) her style had become more pictorial: the pieces are freer in form and Impressionist in character, with descriptive titles and texts. Dillon also wrote music for plays that were performed at the Woodland Theater she founded in Big Bear Lake, California. Her papers are held by the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections.


(selective list)

Orch: Celebration of Victory, 1918; The Cloud, 1918; The Alps, 1920; A Western Saga, pf conc., 1945; In a Mission Garden; A Letter from the Southland

Pf: 6 Preludes (1908); 8 Descriptive Pieces (1917); Heroic Etude (1917); Melodic Poems of the Mountains (1920); Bird Stories in Music (1922); Songs of the Seven Hills (1927); From the Chinese (1944)

Solo inst: Woodland Flute Call, fl (1953); A Medieval Minstrelsy (suite), pipe org 1v, pf; The Message of the Bells (1917); In the Forest: Aroma of the Pines (A.H. Dillon) and The Temple of Trees (H.L. Brown) (1927); The Spirit and Time Sweeps On (Edward Howard Griggs) (1927); An April Day (1949); Saul (R. Browning)

Incid. music for pf: Prince Su Ming (W. Fao), 1935; Nevertheless—Old Glory!; Tahquitz (G. Holme: The Desert Play of Palm Springs, rev. Whiting and D. Belasco); The Desert Calls


“California's Brilliant Composer-Pianist, Fannie Dillon,” Musical Courier (16 Nov 1916), 45 onlyFind this resource:

    S.P. Finger: Fannie Charles Dillon: a Catalogue of Her Musical Works (Los Angeles, 1987)Find this resource:

      Carol Neuls-Bates