Margaret Shelton Meier, Ph.D.

Trailblazing composer, musician, teacher, grandmother  

“Margaret (“Margee”) Shelton Meier (March 7, 1936 – March 20, 2023) composer, musician, and teacher, left this world with a legacy of beautiful music that has been performed on several continents,” her family shared.

Margaret was born in New York City to Hans Lorenz and Margaret Frances Kirschbaum Meier.  Her childhood was spent in Hawthorne, New York, a small hamlet outside of the city in a house which was hand built by her father, a German Norwegian immigrant.

She attended Eastman School of Music and after graduating moved to California and began teaching music at Pasadena Christian School. She attended Fuller Seminary, CSULA and UCLA, where she became the first woman in the school’s history to earn a Ph.D. in music composition.

She and her family moved to Claremont in 1974, where she would raise her family and reside the rest of her life.

She was a prolific composer in a variety of genres, including orchestral, choral, art songs, chamber music and instrumental solos. Her numerous awards include the ASCAP Standard Award. Her compositions appear in the CD catalogues of Albany, Vienna Modern Masters, Naxos, and Raven. Many of her works were featured by the Claremont Symphony Orchestra including the “The Claremont Symphony” in 1996. Many of her orchestral and choral works have been performed and recorded throughout the world. She was a staunch advocate for women composers, both historical hidden figures and modern day. She was a longstanding member and past president of the Music Teacher’s Association of California and of the venerable Dominant Music Club.

She taught in California’s three college and university systems, primarily in the areas of piano and music theory. Throughout her life she maintained a private music studio where she taught piano and theory. She also served as the minister of music for eight churches, over a period of 40 years.

A 12-year resident of Pilgrim Place, she died there on March 20 surrounded by her family. She is survived by her sister, Helen Meier; sons Karl and Robert Shelton; and grandchildren Kimberly and Kathrynne.

A celebration of life is planned for 3 p.m. Saturday, May 6 at Decker Hall on the Pilgrim Place campus.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests a donation in her name to Pilgrim Place’s Resident Health and Support Program at, or to the Claremont Symphony Orchestra at


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