Anne Mathilde Bilbro held an
enviable place among American composers for half a century and justly occupies
her place in the ETUDE's Historical Musical Series of the World's Best Known
Musicians. The most prolific of Alabama composers, her published works include
sheet form piano pieces, pianologues, song stories, piano duets and trios, and
complete books of piano music collections.
Known primarily as the children's musician, her unique methods are said
to have revolutionized the teaching of children's piano literature. Dr. John
Thompson, writing in ETUDE magazine (December 1938), stated, "The very
name of Bilbro always amounts to the stamp of approval on a piano piece. Miss
Bilbro has contributed countless fine things to the piano educational
literature, and her grateful admirers among piano teachers are legion. Not only
has she a real gift for writing but one can always be sure that she is in
sympathy with the piano teacher and this is reflected in her writing."
Miss Bilbro originated and published over 600 works primarily in the
field of music education. She was noted in the 1936 edition of MUSICAL ALABAMA
as Alabama's most prolific composer. This is a feat believed to be unequaled by
any other Alabama woman. This astounding volume of work was made available
through over thirty publishing houses.
In 1926, the ETUDE magazine issued a special sesquicentennial edition
celebrating "150 years of American music." Featured were such
composers as Irving Berlin, then at the peak of his fame; Carrie Jacob Bond,
who had endeared herself to a wide audience with "End of a Perfect
Day"; Stephen Foster; John Phillip Sousa; and Alabama's own Anne Mathilde
Sometime between 1890 and 1900, Miss Bilbro opened her studio in Gadsden.
There, the people of Gadsden for years had access to her exceptional methods of
teaching piano and the ensuing recitals. She also conducted master classes in
New York, Colorado, Missouri, Arizona, and throughout the South.
Her talents were not limited to composing and teaching music. She wrote
short stories, a novel, articles for ETUDE magazine, and the "Legend of
Noccalula" which is still available to tourists at Noccalula Falls in
Alabama. Toward the end of her life, Miss Bilbro, like Beethoven, was loosing
her hearing. She would stand quietly at the curve of a grand piano with her
hands pressing against it - using the last of her abilities to enjoy the music
to which she had devoted her life.