Surveys of American music, women in music, and twentieth-century music agree that American composer Louise Talma is a pioneering figure in the history of women in music. At a time when the composition world was largely dominated by men often associated closely with academia (Walter Piston, William Schuman) or Americana (Aaron Copland, Virgil Thomson), she was the second woman (after Ruth Crawford Seeger in 1930) to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship in music composition and the first woman awarded back-to-back Guggenheims in 1946 and 1947, an enormous achievement given the Guggenheim committees’ preferences for male winners; in 1963 she was the first female composer to win the Sibelius Medal for composition; and in 1974 was the first woman composer elected to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. Talma entered the Institute of Musical Arts (now Juilliard) in New York in 1922, where she studied both piano and composition. In 1926, Talma spent her first summer at the Conservatoire Américan in Fontainebleau, France, where she met pedagogue Nadia Boulanger. Talma returned for more than 30 summers to study with and eventually teach alongside Boulanger, finding her an early important mentor. Under Boulanger’s guidance, Talma gave up her piano studies in order to focus on composition, converted from agnosticism to Roman Catholicism with Boulanger as her godmother, and adopted a lifestyle similar to Boulanger’s in its devotion to music. She was a full-time member of the music faculty at Hunter College in New York from 1928 until 1979, during which time she helped author two harmony textbooks for her students. In the 1940s Talma began spending each summer at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire, where she met and worked with writer Thornton Wilder on their opera, The Alcestiad, and where most of her later-period works were composed. Talma continued to compose prolifically into her eighties, spending summers at the MacDowell Colony and the Yaddo Artist Colony, where she died in 1996. At her death, she left well over a million dollars to the MacDowell Colony and made it her heir, assigning it all of the rights to her music.