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Patricia Blomfield Holt: Biography

Patricia Blomfield Holt
1910 - 2003
Region: Ontario

Patricia Blomfield Holt

Born in Lindsay in 1910, Patricia Blomfield Holt is a third generation Canadian, and great granddaughter of Col. Strickland (brother of Susan Moodie) an early settler from England.

She lived in Wingham Ontario where her musical influences consisted of 3 gramophone records and the Anglican Church choir. Although her parents were not musical, she was given piano lessons which terminated shortly after she moved to Toronto in 1923.

Two events changed the course of her life. Her family and her were invited to a large family gathering. In those days it was customary to ask your guests to sing, play an instrument, tell a story or recite. She was asked to play the piano. She was always "making up" pieces so she played "The Arab's Ride". As a result an elderly family connection (who had studied in Germany) offered her large music library and she encountered Bach, Beethoven and MacDowell and became very engrossed, especially with Beethoven, studying the music, though she couldn't play it.

The second event came two years later when a wealthy American friend of her Mother (with aspirations to be an opera singer) came to visit.

Her Mother, of course, asked her to sing. She regretfully refused for lack of accompanist. "Oh, Pat will play for you" said Mother. "But she can't" said Aunt Mae, "she doesn't know the music". "That doesn't matter" said Mother, "she'll play". So we performed all Aunt Mae's songs. She was delighted. "Who is her teacher?". "She teaches herself" said mother. "Oh she must study" said Aunt Mae, "Find the best teacher in Toronto and I will Pay".

She subsequently studied privately with Nora deKresz and in 1928, the year Aunt Mae died, enrolled in the Toronto (later Royal) Conservatory of Music as a student teacher. Classes included harmony, counterpoint (model) history, score study, and pedagogy with Sir Earnest MacMillan, Healy Willan, Dr. Horwood and Leo Smith.

Composition was self taught until 1936 when she began intermittent lessons with Healey Willan, who stressed the basics while allowing her to develop a personal voice. In 1938 she won the Society for Contemporary Music Award (formerly the Voght Society), sharing it with Florence Birtcliffe, for Suite No. 1 for Violin and Piano.

She was offered a scholarship to the Julliard which, due to her impending marriage, she could not accept.

Upon her marriage in 1939 she resigned from the Conservatory. From 1940 to 1954, she and her family lived in Port Colborne, Midland and Spain, returning to Toronto in 1954. She subsequently rejoined the Royal Conservatory with the Faculty of Music. The popular "How to Listen" was introduced at the Royal Conservatory and taken over by the Faculty of Music Extension Classes. She retired from the R.C.M. in 1985.

Patricia passed away June 8, 2003.

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