Bauer studied in Portland, OR, as well as in Paris and Berlin. Her teachers include Boulanger and Rothwell.
She taught at New York University, the Juilliard School, and several other institutions. She was a frequent lecturer at Chautauqua and an avid supporter of American music. Bauer was a co-founder of the American Music Guild and served on the board of the League of American Composers. She wrote many articles for music journals and served as New York editor of the Musical Leader. Her compositions are impressionistic with a strong sense of form. Her writings include the book Twentieth Century Music, (New York, rev. 2/1947).