He was Romantic period composer, music critic and
editor born in Boston, Massachusetts as the son of the Deacon Nathaniel
Willis and the brother being the poet Nathaniel Parker Willis. He studied at the Chauncey Hall, the
Boston Latin School, and Yale Unniversity where he would become a member of
the student's secret society Skull & Bones and hold the post of president
of the Beethoven Society.
After leaving Yale he re-located to Germany where he spent six years
studying music with Moritz Hauptmann and Xavier Schnyder and became friends
with Felix Mendelssohn. His
return to the United States saw him working as a music critic for The
Albion and the New York Tribune, and he was also editor and
critic for The Musical Times from 1852 to 1864. After the Civil War had started in
1861, he decided to move to an area that would provide more safety for him
and his family, so they moved to Detroit, Michigan, where he would remain
for the rest of his life aside from escorting his daughter to Italy to
attend school there. A prolific composer, he wrote much hymn music
including his "Carol" that would be adapted for the popular Christmas carol
"It Came Upon a Midnight Clear".
His published works include Waif of Song, Pen and Lute and Church
Chorals and Choir Studies.
He died in Detroit, Michigan, when he was 81 years old.
It Came Upon A Midnight Clear recordings
and His Orchestra
Decca B0003552-02 (CD: A Leroy Anderson Christmas)