33¢ Meridith Willson
Issue Date: September 21, 1999
City: New York, NY
Printed By: Sterling Sommer for Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd
Printing Method: Lithographed
Meredith Willson (1902-1984) distinguished himself as a writer of symphonic works and popular songs. He earned lasting fame for his series of Broadway hits, especially “The Music Man” (1957). The idea for the show began in 1949, when he was reminiscing with friends about his childhood years in Mason City, Iowa.
Willson proved to be a talented musician at a young age. Early in his life he studied the piano, piccolo, and flute. He attended the Institute of Musical Art (later called the Juilliard School of Music) in New York City, and was a flutist in John Philip Sousa’s band. He also played with the New York Philharmonic, and worked at the National Broadcasting Company.
“The Music Man” is Willson’s most famous musical. The story centers around an unscrupulous con man named Harold Hill, who tries to sell non-existent musical instruments to the citizens of River City, Iowa. But he ends up falling in love with the town librarian.
After it opened on Broadway in 1957, “The Music Man” ran for a marathon 1,375 performances. Willson’s award-winning score includes the songs “Seventy-six Trombones,” “Trouble,” and “Till There Was You,” which was a hit for the Beatles in 1963. Willson also wrote the musical “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” (1960).