Runcie, Constance Faunt Le Roy (1836–1911)

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Runcie, Constance Faunt Le Roy (1836–1911)

American composer and pianist whose music was enormously popular in the 19th century. Born Constance Faunt Le Roy in Indianapolis, Indiana, on January 15, 1836; died in St. Joseph, Missouri, on May 17, 1911; daughter of Robert Henry Faunt Le Roy (an astronomer) and Jane Dale (Owen) Faunt Le Roy; married James Runcie (an Episcopal cleric); children: two sons and two daughters.

Both of Constance Runcie's parents were amateur musicians: her father was an astronomer who also composed and her mother, who was a daughter of the British social reformer Robert Owen, played the piano and harp. Constance was born in Indianapolis in 1836 and spent her childhood in New Harmony, Indiana. In 1852, she began a five-year training period in piano and composition in Stuttgart, Germany. When she returned with her family, they settled again in New Harmony. There she met and married James Runcie in 1861, and founded the first organized women's club in the United States with a constitution and bylaws. She also began to compose songs, a symphony, and chamber music. Runcie may have been the first American woman to compose a symphony, but unfortunately it was never published and the manuscript remains lost. Her songs and chamber music, which have also vanished, were very likely the first such works by an American woman. Although her music was enormously popular in its day, it was seldom played after her death. Runcie's autobiography, Divinely Led, was published in New York in 1895.


Mathews, William S.B. A Hundred Years of Music in America. NY: AMS, 1971.

Willard, Frances, and Mary A. Livermore. A Woman of the Century. Buffalo: 1893.

John Haag , Athens, Georgia