Allan Arthur Willman

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Allan Arthur Willman
Born Allan Arthur Simpkins
(1909-05-11)May 11, 1909
Hinckley, Illinois
Died May 7, 1987(1987-05-07) (aged 77)
Cheyenne, Wyoming
Resting place Lakeview Cemetery, Cheyenne
Residence Laramie, Wyoming
Nationality American
Other names Allan Arthur Simpkins (birth name)
Alan Samar (pseudonym)
Alma mater
Occupation Classical pianist, composer, professor
Years active 1926–1989
Employer University of Wyoming
Organization Fellow, MacDowell Colony (Summer 1940)
Notable work "Solitude", symphonic poem, for orchestra
Style Early 20th-century contemporary classical
Home town Abingdon, Illinois
Partner(s) Regina Kastberg Hansen (1914–1965)
Parent(s) Arthur Burton Simpkins (1872–1937)
Lulu (née Louis Catherine Willman; 1872–1961)
Awards 1934 Paderewski Prize for Symphonic Work
   by an American-born composer

Allan Arthur Willman (variant spellings Alan & Wilman; Allan Arthur Simpkins; 11 May 1909 Hinckley, Illinois 7 May 1989 Cheyenne, Wyoming) was an American classical pianist, composer, music pedagog at the collegiate level, and longtime chairman of the Department of Music at the University of Wyoming.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8] Willman was a vanguard creator and influential exponent of twentieth-century contemporary music.[9] As chairman of the music department at the University of Wyoming, he is credited with rapidly expanding music arts within the institution. He led the development of a more comprehensive Music Department for aspiring academicians and professionals in performance, composition, education, and musicology. Between 1940 and 1950, enrollment in the Music Department quadrupled.[10] Willman was founder of the Wyoming Music Teachers Association;[11] and—with Wyoming businessman and composer George William Hufsmith, Jr. (1924–2002), and Casper conductor Ernest Gilbert Hagen (1913–2000)—Willman was co-founder of the Grand Teton Music Festival in 1962.[12]


Growing up[edit]

Born in Hinckley, Illinois, Willman grew-up in Abingdon.[12][13]

Higher education[edit]

Willman earned a Bachelor of Music degree from Knox College Conservatory of Music in 1928 (age 19) under his original name, Allan Arthur Simpkins. He went on to earn a Master of Music degree from Chicago Musical College in 1930, where he studied with Maurice Aronson (1869–1946), Alexander Raab, and Lillian Powers (1886–1973),[14] who was an associate teacher with Raab and a former pupil of Theodor Leschetizky and Giuseppe Ferrata (1865–1928),[15] who in turn was a certified pupil of Franz Liszt.[16] Willman then studied in Paris with Nadia Boulanger and Thomas de Hartmann. Willman had been recommended to Boulanger by Paderewski.[17][18] After World War II, while serving as Chairman of the Department of Music at Wyoming, Willman took leave during the 1947–48 school year to study in Lausanne and Paris—Robert R. Becker (1909–1997), a virtuoso violinist and violist who began teaching at Wyoming in 1941, served as Acting Chairman during Willman's sabbatical.[19]

Performance career[edit]

As a concert pianist, Willman performed throughout the United States and in Europe. During the summer of 1953, Willman made a European concert tour with Rudolf Kolisch, artist-in-residence at the University of Wyoming and leader of the Pro Arte Quartet They performed in cities that included Vienna and Berlin and over numerous radio networks. In particular, they performed Schönberg's "Fantasie for Violin and Piano," Op. 47, composed in 1949 and published by Edition Peters in 1952. They also performed works of Ernst Krenek, Edward Kilenyi, Beethoven, Schubert, and Kolisch.

Kolisch was Schönberg's pupil and brother-in-law by way of his sister, Gertrud. Kolisch and Willman performed four times at the Arnold Schoenberg Chamber Music Festival sponsored by the International Summer School for New Music at Darmstadt and Frankfurt, July 16–30, 1952.[20][21]

Artistic residency[edit]

Nominated by composer A. Albert Noelte (1885–1946) of Northwestern University, Willman was accepted as a fellow of the MacDowell Colony in the summer of 1940[16][22] Willman worked there from August 4 to September 7, 1940, and composed "Where the Lilac Blows" for voice and piano. He also befriended other composers, including Mabel Wheeler Daniels and Normand Lockwood. Daniels kept in touch with Willman, writing on a least one occasion seeking advice on a composition. Lockwood composed in Laramie between 1955 and 1957.

Teaching career, professorship, and music department head[edit]

Chicago area[edit]

After graduating from the Chicago Musical College in 1930, Willman began teaching at the Boguslawsky School of Music in Chicago—Moissaye Boguslawski had been a piano teacher at the Chicago Musical College.

University of Wyoming[edit]

After returning from Paris in 1936[23] Willman began teaching music at University of Wyoming, where he remained until retirement in 1974. From the school years 1941–1942 to 1973–1974, he was head of the Department of Music. Willman was a proficient recruiter of visiting professors that included:

Willman was drafted into the U.S. Army March 1943 and served as an assistant director of the 524th Army Air Force Band, Sheppard Field, Texas. He also composed and arranged for the Army Air Corps radio program, as well as a small orchestra. During his time in the Army, George William Gunn (1899–1966) was acting Chairman of the Music Division at the University of Wyoming. Having served as Chairman of the Music Division at the University of Wyoming for 32 years, Willman is, as of 2014, the longest serving Chairman in the history of the institution.

A 1948 University of Wyoming publication profiled four classical music composers at the university:[24]

  • Hugh Allan MacKinnon (1891–1981), who also was an organist of international rank and resident organist at St. Matthew's Cathedral in Laramie since 1929[3][25][26]
  • Allan Willman
  • James Bruce Rodgers, PhD (1916–1992), hired by Wyoming in 1947, went on to become Chairman of the Music Department at University of Puget Sound in 1953
  • Regina Willman

As a collaborative achievement, Willman was a senior faculty administrator involved with the approval and design of the Fine Arts Center at the University of Wyoming, which opened in 1972.

Selected works[edit]

Original compositions
  • "Pièce Fantastique", for piano, composed in 1926, while at Knox College
Dedicated to Rudolf Ganz
Manuscript, by Willman Chicago: Chicago: Clayton F. Summy Co.[27] (1919); OCLC 26168495
Manuscript, by Alan Samar (pseudonym of Willman), Chicago: Clayton F. Summy Co.[27] (1929); OCLC 299606621
Performed with the Canton Symphony Orchestra, February 17, 1930
Troy Sanders, piano, Rudolf Ganz, conductor (substituting for Vladimir Horowitz)
Dedicated to Willman's benefactor, Emily Irish Picher (née Stanton; 1877–1941), widow of Oliver Sheppard Picher (1875–1920)
Manuscript (1929); OCLC 83691458
Manuscript (1929); OCLC 18892332
Manuscript (1931); OCLC 57367809
Manuscript (1930); OCLC 18900848
Manuscript, transcribed for voice and piano (1930); OCLC 18900970
  • "Alchemy", for voice & piano, music by Willman, poem by Francis Carlin (1882–1945) (©1962)[28]
Dedicated to Willman's benefactor, Emily Irish Picher (née Stanton; 1877–1941), widow of Oliver Sheppard Picher (1875–1920)
Manuscript (1933); OCLC 31085894
Manuscript (194?); OCLC 18900081
Written in 1935, while in Paris; Willman's notes indicated that the work was suggested by "E.P" (Emily Picher)
Manuscript (1935)
  • "Symphonic Overture" †
Manuscript (bound copy, 96 pages), completed April 1936
Composed as a study in orchestration while a student of Hartmann in Paris
  • "Fugue"
Manuscript, written while a student of Hartmann (inscription: "Paris, September 1935")
  • "Tracery", for piano
Manuscript (1942) (inscription: "For Joseph Bloch—April 1942 AAW"); OCLC 696822810
Joseph Bloch Music Collection; OCLC 753989541
Manuscript (inscribed "Peterborough") (Summer 1940); OCLC 31085903
Manuscript (195?); OCLC 18900301
New York: Kelton-Romm Music Co. (1962); OCLC 18900433
Dedicated to the poet Sarah Salinger, Lausanne, December 1947


Arrangements and adaptations
  • Bach: "Andante: from the Third sonata for unaccompanied violin", adaptation by Willman, manuscript (1928; ©1962);[28] OCLC 26289029
  • "University of Wyoming Alma Mater", composed in 1901 by June Etta Downey, PhD (1875–1932), arranged in 1943 by Willman; OCLC 18933843
Preserving the melody, Willman changed the meter from 3/4 to 4/4 and refined the harmony
  • Rachmaninoff: "Vocalise", Op. 34, No. 14; transcribed for two pianos Willman (196?); OCLC 20301409
  • "Intermezzo Appassionato", composed by Albert Noelte, orchestrated by Willman (1930s)


Arrangements for the 534th Army Air Corps Band at Shepperd Field
  • "The Hymn of Free Russia", Alexandre Gretchaninoff, arranged for band by Willman to accompany a men's chorus †
  • "I'm a Wandr'in", an old slave song by Samuel Gaines, arranged for the Sheppard Field Concert Band by Willman†
  • "The Chinese National Anthem", by Cheng Maoyun, arranged for band by Willman †
  • "The Australian National Anthem", by Peter Dodds McCormick, arranged for the Air Force Band by Willman †
  • "United Nations", by Shostakovitch arranged for band by Willman †


  Private collection of Willman's nephew, Gordon Alban Gallup, PhD (born 1927), Lincoln, Nebraska

Other publications[edit]

The original article by Honegger, "Je suis compositeur" (1951; OCLC 1293409) was part of a series titled "Mon métier" ("My Profession"); OCLC 718451858. Published in Paris by Éditions du Conquistador (fr), the series is a collection of biographies or memoirs by notable people from a wide range of professions describing their avocations.[29] Clough was a poet and English professor at the University of Wyoming for more than 25 years, from 1924 to 1961.[30] The publication was highly reviewed and is widely cited.


Selected discography[edit]

  1. Live, July 27, 1953 (reel-to-reel tape); OCLC 77858796
  2. The RIAS Second Viennese School Project: Berlin, 1949–1965, Audite (4 CDs) (Kolisch & Willman are on the 4th CD) (2012); OCLC 834993726, 818951228, LCCN 2013-627132
Live, August 28, 1953


Manuscripts of Allan Arthur Willman

Notable students[edit]



In 1942, Willman married Regina Kastberg Hansen (1914–1965), also a composer. Born in Burns, Wyoming, she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in music from the University of Wyoming in 1945 and a Master of Arts degree in music from the University of New Mexico in 1961. At Wyoming, she studied composition privately with Darius Milhaud and Roy Harris. She also studied music at a number of institutions in the United States and Europe, including the Juilliard and the Lausanne Conservatory in Switzerland. In 1956, after suffering from cancer for 8 years, Regina left Allan, and soon thereafter, they divorced. But they remained in close contact until she died in 1965, after 17 years of cancer. Regina composed several classical pieces between the 1930s and 1960s, including:

Orchestral works

  • "Design for Orchestra I" (1948)
  • "Design for Orchestra II" (1953); OCLC 228007183


  • "Steel Mill" (1941)
  • "The Legend of the Willow Plate" (1949)
"Doves" (finale); OCLC 665815703

Regina was twice a resident composer at the Wurlitzer Foundation in Taos, New Mexico—from 1956 to 1957 and from 1960 to 1961.[5][34] Her works, while in Taos, include:

  • "O Sleep Now", for medium voice and piano (1956); OCLC 668400797
  • "Ante Vero Longam" ("Long Before"), words by Magister Lambertus (13th Century), for tenor solo, unison men's (tenor) chorus, oboe, and piano (1961); OCLC 668408329
  • "Après le Déluge", words from "Illuminations", by Arthur Rimbaud, for high voice and piano (1961); OCLC 668400798
  • "Three Compositions for Piano"; OCLC 665065981
"Pleasantry" (inscription: "1943")
"For Monique", (inscription: "from "The Little Tailor," a suite for piano, based on the nursery tale; 12 juin 1953")
"Ductia" (inscription: "Taos, 1961")[24]

Regina and Allan never had any children and Allan Willman never remarried.[1]

Willman was the third of five children born to the marriage of Arthur Burton Simpkins, DDS (1872–1937), and Lulu (née Louis Catherine Willman; 1872–1961). His brother and three sisters all predeceased him:

  • Thomas Hughes Simpkins (1903–1934)
  • Sylvia Hope Ann Simpkins (1901–1986), married to Arthur Leslie Decker (1898–1981)
  • Eudora Mary Simpkins (1900–1986), married to Merle Robb Gallup (1889–1965)
  • Isabel Burton Simpkins (1912–1939)

Willman’s original manuscripts, letters from prominent musicians, 26 various musical instruments including Willman's piano, art work and some of Willman's personal library were devised under the will of his estate to his nephew, Gordon Alban Gallup, PhD (born 1927), a retired professor (physics/astronomy), University of Nebraska, Lincoln.


  1. ^ a b Allan Arthur Willman, Pianist and Composer, 1909–1989 (dissertation) by Jo Ann Haycraft, PhD, Claremont Graduate University (2001)
        OCLC 47914869
        UMI DA No. 3025142
        ISBN 0493382275
        ML 417.W55.H393.2001 (LOC ML)
  2. ^ Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians (Willman is in Vol. 6 of 6), Macmillan; Schirmer
        6th ed, Slonimsky (ed.) (1978); OCLC 4426869
        7th ed, Slonimsky (ed.) (1984); OCLC 10574930
        8th ed, Slonimsky (ed.) (1992); OCLC 24246972
  3. ^ a b Biographical Dictionary of American Music, by Charles Eugene Claghorn (1911–2005), West Nyack, NY: Parker Publishing Co. (1973); OCLC 609781
  4. ^ Biography Index, H.W. Wilson Co.; ISSN 0006-3053
       Vol. 1: Jan. 1946–Jul. 1949 (1949); OCLC 795373513
  5. ^ a b Contemporary American Composers, compiled by E. Ruth Anderson (1907–1989), G.K. Hall & Co. (in 1985, ITT sold G.K. Hall & Co. to Macmillan Publishing)
        1st ed. (1976); OCLC 2035024
        2nd ed. (1982); OCLC 7795619
  6. ^ International Who's Who in Music and Musicians' Directory, 12th Edition, 1990–1991, Cambridge, England: International Who's Who in Music (1990); OCLC 28065697
  7. ^ International Who's Who in Music and Musicians' Directory, Adrian Gaster (1919–1989) (ed.), Cambridge, England: International Who's Who in Music
        8th   ed. (1977); OCLC 3493652
        9th   ed. (1980); OCLC 7519641
        10th ed. (1984); OCLC 11828662
  8. ^ Who Was Who in America, Vol. 12, 1996–1998, Marquis Who's Who (1998); OCLC 40614647
  9. ^ Who is who in Music: A Complete Presentation of the Contemporary Musical Scene, With a Master Record Catalogue (1941 edition), Lee Stern, Chicago: Lee Stern Press (1940); OCLC 1355515, 6052459
  10. ^ 1951 Wyo (University of Wyoming yearbook), Vol. 38 (1951), pg. 158
  11. ^ Contemporary American Composers: Based at American Colleges, compiled by Hugh William Jacobi, Margaret De Voss (consultant editor), Paradise Arts Publisher (1975); OCLC 1442146
  12. ^ a b Obituary: "Allan Willman," Abingdon Argus (Abingdon, Illinois), October 5, 1989
  13. ^ Who's who in American music: Classical (edited by Jaques Cattell Press, published by R.R. Bowker Co. (1985); OCLC 13299480, ISSN 0737-9137
  14. ^ Lillian Powers, Mus.B., A.B., Mus.M.
        Beaver College and Musical Institute, Pennsylvania
        Theodore Leschetiszky Graduate School, Vienna (1944)
        married widower Ernest M. Wadsworth, DD (1877–1963)
        Longtime Professor of Music, Wheaton College
  15. ^ Giuseppe Ferrata: Émigré Pianist and Composer, by Edward Eanes, Scarecrow Press (1998); OCLC 38959516
  16. ^ a b c American Composer Zenobia Powell Perry: Race and Gender in the 20th Century, by Jeannie Gayle Pool (born 1951), Scarecrow Press (2009); OCLC 239233280
  17. ^ Nadia Boulanger: A Life in Music, by Léonie Rosenstiel, PhD (born 1947), pg. 258 (1998); OCLC 39346489
        Rosensteil's bio, Marquis Who's Who: OCLC 4778455898
  18. ^ Composers in America: Biographical Sketches of Contemporary Composers With a Record of Their Works, by Claire Reis (née Raphael; 1888–1978), Da Capo Press (1977); OCLC 2875262
  19. ^ Intellect (journal), New York: Society for the Advancement of Education, Vol. 66 (1947), pg. 264; ISSN 0149-0095
  20. ^ New Music at Darmstadt: Nono, Stockhausen, Cage, and Boulez, by Martin Iddon, PhD, Cambridge University Press (2013), pg. xvii; OCLC 809365714
  21. ^ Quellen zur Geschichte emigrierter Musiker, 1933-1950 (Sources relating to the history of émigré musicians (Willman is in Vol. 1 of 2), Horst Weber & Manuela Schwartz, Munich: K. G. Saur Verlag (2005), pg. 198; OCLC 51615037
  22. ^ The MacDowell Colony: a Musical History of America's Premier Artists' Community, Bridget Falconer-Salkeld, Scarecrow Press (2005), pg. 148; OCLC 56921751
  23. ^ Passenger and Crew Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1897-1957, SS Washington, from Le Havre to Port of New York, July 16–23, 1936,; OCLC 865841997
  24. ^ a b Composers in Wyoming, Division of Music, University of Wyoming (October 1948); OCLC 22933056
  25. ^ Hugh MacKinnon, Organist, New York: H. W. Gray Co. (1950); OCLC 23667786
  26. ^ The History of American Church Music, by Leonard Webster Ellinwood (1905–1994), New York: Da Capo Press (1970); OCLC 73448
  27. ^ a b Clayton F. Summy Co. became Summy-Birchard in the late 1950s; then was acquired by Birch Tree Limited in the 1970s; which, in turn, was acquired by Warner-Chappell in the 1990s
  28. ^ a b c d Catalog of Copyright Entries, 3rd Series, Vol. 16, Part 5, No. 1 (January–June 1962), Copyright Office, Library of Congress
  29. ^ "Review of the translation: I Am a Composer, by Arthur Honegger;" review by James Hanna, Journal of Research in Music Education, Vol. 15, No. 1 (Spring, 1967), pps. 95–96; ISSN 0022-4294
  30. ^ "Wyoming to Give Honorary Degrees", Billings Gazette, May 14, 1961, pg. 17
  31. ^ The International Cyclopedia of Music and Musicians, Oscar Thompson & Nicolas Slonimsky (eds.), Dodd, Mead and Company (1958) pg. 1343; OCLC 1015359
  32. ^ "American Music Center and Meet The Composer Announce Intent to Merge", (press release) NewMusicBox, March 29, 2011
  33. ^ American Keyboard Artists, Stephen Husarik (born 1944) (ed.), Marilyn J. Joyce (asst. ed.), Chicago Biographical Center (1992), pg. 365; OCLC 26327678
  34. ^ Regina Willman papers, 1934–1971, University of Wyoming, American Heritage Center; OCLC 182546587