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William Billings
(American Composer)


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William Billings was an American choral composer, and is widely regarded as the father of American choral music. Billings was originally a tanner by trade, and lacking formal training in music, Billings created what is now recognized as a uniquely American style.

"He had one eye, a deformed arm and a harsh voice; he was lame in one leg; and he was addicted to snuff."1 At the age of 14 his fathers death stopped his formal schooling. He was married with six children. Billings died in poverty on September 26, 1800. His funeral was announced in the Columbian Centinel "Died- Mr. William Billings, the celebrated music composer. His funeral will be tomorrow at 4 o'clock, PM from the house of Mrs. Amos Penniman, in Chamber-stree, West-Boston."2

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