Countess Mária Theodora (Dora) Paulina Pejačević was born in 1885 in Budapest. Young Dora grew up with all the advantages of an aristocrat. From an early age, though, she defied convention and walked her own path. Her parents arranged private lessons with teachers at the Croatian Music Institute in Zagreb, which lead to further instruction in Dresden and Munich. Dissatisfied with her formal studies, Pejačević pursued her own course of self-instruction in composition, traveling around Europe and getting to know the leading artists, poets, and intellectuals of the day. The Piano Concerto was her first orchestral composition. She wrote her Symphony in F-sharp minor during World War I, while also working as a volunteer nurse.