Frances Louise Danforth (1903-1996) founded the Ann Arbor Area Piano Teachers Guild in 1961 and served as its first president. She was born in Chicago, Illinois where she studied piano until moving to New York at eighteen. In New York, she studied piano with Eugene Heffley and Leslie Hodgeson, and composition with Robert Russell Bennett. One year later, she came to Ann Arbor and enrolled at the University of Michigan, earning and A.B. degree in literature and music and a year later a Bachelor of Music degree with a major in piano.
She spent summers attending Michigan State University and the University of Maryland before enrolling at Eastern Michigan University to earn a Master of Arts in music literature and composition. She studied with Dr. Edith Borroff and Dr. Anthony Iannaccone. Additional work in electronic music with John Carlson of the University of Michigan and Dr. Iannaccone was followed by studies in experimental sounds with George Caccioppo. She was a member of the national music soritity Mu Phi Epsilon.
Mrs. Danforth was awarded a “Teacher of the Year” award in 1978 by the Michigan Music Teachers Association. Among her most notable works are Suite for Piano, premiered in 1972 at Eastern Michigan University, which won a first prize in a national “Original Composition Contest” in 1973. Her wind trio, Theme and Variations, won an honorable mention in 1974. A marimba solo received honorable mention from the Percussive Arts Society in 1978, and a piano solo, Karelian Light, received honorable mention at a competition in Oxford, England in 1979.
Recognition for her work at furthering music education and awards for her compositions qualified her to be listed in the 10th Edition of Who’s Who of American Women. Frances had an impact on the music world in many ways that belied her soft spoken manner and diminutive stature. Her influence, especially in the Ann Arbor area, continues to be felt as those in the AAAPTG carry on the many activities of the group that she founded.