Olly Wilson

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Olly Wilson
Olly Woodrow Wilson, Jr.

(1937-09-07)September 7, 1937
DiedMarch 12, 2018(2018-03-12) (aged 80)
Alma materWashington University in St. Louis
University of Illinois
OccupationComposer, musician, musicologist
Known forTIMARA

Olly Woodrow Wilson, Jr. (September 7, 1937 – March 12, 2018) was an American composer of contemporary classical music, pianist, double bassist, and musicologist. He was one of the preeminent composers of African American descent in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. He is also known for establishing the TIMARA (Technology in Music and Related Arts) program at Oberlin Conservatory, the first-ever conservatory program in electronic music.[1]


Wilson was born in St. Louis, Missouri, to Alma Grace Peoples Wilson, a seamstress, and Olly Woodrow Wilson, Sr., an insurance salesman and butler. He graduated with a B.M. degree from Washington University in St. Louis in 1959, and earned an M.M. degree in music composition in 1960 from the University of Illinois. His composition instructors included Robert Wykes, Robert Kelley, and Philip Bezanson. He earned a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa in 1964.

Wilson taught at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University and the Oberlin Conservatory of Music (1965-1970). He was an emeritus professor of music at the University of California, Berkeley, where he taught from 1970 to 2002 when he retired. He also served as the chairman of that university's music department between 1993 and 1997. His notable students include Neil Rolnick, Dwight Banks, Robert Greenberg, Tony Williams (jazz drummer) and Frank La Rocca.

He was commissioned by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Symphony and New York Philharmonic.

Wilson's music is published by Gunmar Music (a division of G. Schirmer). His music has been recorded on the Columbia, CRI, Desto, Turnabout, and New World labels.

Wilson died on March 12, 2018, at the age of 80.[2][3]

Awards and honors[edit]


  • Southern, Eileen; Wilson, Olly (Spring 1978). "Olly Wilson: The Education of a Composer". The Black Perspective in Music. 6 (1): 57–70. doi:10.2307/1214303. JSTOR 1214303.


  1. ^ Zilber, Ben (Summer 2007). "TIMARA: Technology in Music and the Related Arts". Oberlin Alumni Magazine. Vol. 103 no. 1.
  2. ^ Sandomir, Richard (March 23, 2018). "Olly Wilson, 80, Dies; Composer Meshed African and Western Music". The New York Times. Archived from the original on March 25, 2018. Retrieved March 25, 2018.
  3. ^ Iwata, Miyako (March 20, 2018). "UC Berkeley music professor emeritus Olly Wilson dies at 80, remembered for integrity". The Daily Californian. Archived from the original on March 25, 2018. Retrieved March 25, 2018.

External links[edit]