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Composer William Billings

William Billings - Small Photo
1746 - 1800

Billings was a self-taught colonial American choral composer widely regarded as the father of American choral music.  Originally a tanner by trade, and lacking formal training in music, Billings created what is now recognized as a uniquely American style.  A contemporary account describes him thus: "He had one eye, a deformed arm and a harsh voice; he was lame in one leg; and he was addicted to snuff." Most of his compositions are part-songs and fuging tunes for four voices, known by their tune names such as Africa and Chester.  (Read more - Wikipedia article.)

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