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Susan H. Dyer (1880-1922):

Music Faculty

Former graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy George Leland Dyer and Susan Heart Palmer Dyer gave birth to Susan “Daisy” Hart Palmer on December 20, 1880 in Annapolis, Maryland.  She received instruction on these subjects in various settings-first in Annapolis and then in Washington D.C.-primarily because of her father’s military career.  After her studies were completed, Dyer attended the Corcoran Art School in Maryland for two years, and then the Art Students League in New York City, graduating in 1896.  According to Dyer’s diary, the next two years of her life consisted of traveling to Europe where her father was stationed.  There, she gained insight into the nature of lifestyles and customs of the places she visited during the late Victorian period.[1]  After leaving Europe, Palmer enrolled in the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, Maryland, where she studied violin with J.C. Van Hulsteyn and harmony with Otis B. Boise, until her graduation in 1904.  By the age of twenty-five, Dyer relocated to Guam, where the government appointed her “special laborer” for $2.50 gold a day until regular teachers arrived. [2] In her spare time, Dyer occupied herself with writing poetry and composing music.  In 1910, The Anchorage published several of Dyer’s poems, including, “A Song,” and “Magnolia.” 


Dyer’s love for music brought her to Rollins in 1909 as instructor of violin.  She remained at the College for two years, until she resigned in 1911 to enroll in Yale Music School.  After completing her Bachelor of Music degree and receiving the Steinert Prize for the overture she wrote in 1914 titled, “Florida Night Song,” Dyer returned to Rollins.  There, she became instructor in violin, harmony, theory, and musical history as well as the director of Rollins College Conservatory of Music and head of the Department of Theory.  After contributing to the College for thirteen years, Dyer announced her final resignation in March 1922.  September of that year, Dyer became directress of Greenwich House Music School Settlement.  She also continued her services to the Florida Federation Women’s Club as President until her death on October 21, 1922.

To commemorate the services that Dyer dedicated to Rollins, the College erected the Dyer Memorial Music Building as, “a memorial not only to an inspired teacher, Susan Dyer, but to her well-remembered mother and father, beloved residents of Winter Park.”[3]

-Alia Alli

[1] Beth H. Carter, “Susan ‘Daisy’ Hart Dyer,”  Box 45E, Olin Library, Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida.

[2] Ibid., 3.

[3] Ibid., 5.

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