Biographies Patty Stair (1869-1926)

Patty Stair, 1898.
Patty Stair, 1898. From Rupert Hughes, "Music in America - IX - The Women Composers." Godey's Magazine 132(January 1896):32. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress. Call number: AP2.G56

Patty Stair was born in Cleveland, Ohio, November 12, 1869. She attended the Cleveland public schools and the prestigious Hathaway Brown School for Ladies—the oldest private girls' school in Cleveland. The niece of well-known tenor Edwin Stair, she came from a family that encouraged her to study music at an early age. She began teaching music, serving as church organist, and composing at the age of fourteen. Her music studies occurred exclusively in Cleveland, much of them between 1882 and 1892 with Franklin Bassett, Director of the Cleveland Conservatory of Music.

From 1889 to 1921, Stair taught organ at the Cleveland Conservatory of Music, which was affiliated for a short time with the College for Women at Case Western Reserve University. An active church organist, she served Cleveland's First United Methodist Church, First Baptist Church, Windemere Methodist Church, and Wade Park Methodist Church. Her activity both as organ teacher and professional church musician led to her acceptance as the first female member of the Ohio Chapter of the American Guild of Organists and president of the Women's Music Teachers Club of Cleveland. Stair was especially involved in Cleveland's Fortnightly Music Club, where she served as chorus director for a number of years.

Stair's compositions include two light operas, an intermezzo for orchestra, some fifty songs, anthems, and instrumental works for violin, piano, and organ. Some of her better-known pieces are Minuet and Little Dutch Lullaby (for women's voices), and These Are They, an anthem for mixed voices. Her many unpublished songs were donated to the Library of Congress in 1917. Never married, Stair died of pneumonia, April 26, 1926, at her home in East Cleveland.

Selected Works at the Library of Congress