Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary Composer Biographies
May 18, 1902 in Mason City, Iowa, America
June 15, 1984 in Santa Monica, California, America
The Music Man
The Unsinkable Molly Brown
Here's Love (a musical adaptation of Miracle on 34th Street)
University of Iowa Fight Song
May the Good Lord Bless You and Keep You
Meredith Willson was born on May 18, 1902 in Mason City Iowa. As a child he learned the flute and piccolo. After high school he left for New York to attend the Julliard School. Following the Julliard School, Willson became the flutist for the John Phillip Sousa's band from 1921 to 1923. From 1924 to 1929 he was the primary flutist of the New York Philharmonic Symphony.
Later he went on to become the concert director at KFRC in San Francisco, and musical director at NBC in both San Francisco and Hollywood. It was as a musical director when Willson wrote May the Good Lord Bless You and Keep You for the closing of the show "The Big Show." It was about this time Willson also wrote a few songs for Iowa University, namely the University of Iowa Fight Song, and the Iowa Indian Song. It wasn't until 1957 that Willson was able to complete work on his first musical The Music Man. This musical was comprised of over 40 songs, and took 8 years to complete. It proved to be well worth the wait, running for 1375 performances, winning the first Grammy Award, and 8 Tony Awards. His next two musicals The Unsinkable Molly Brown in 1960, and Here's Love in 1963 were also successful. From 1963 until his death in June of 1984, Willson did not create any other works of great value.