William Gillock, noted music educator and composer of piano music, was born in LaRussell, Missouri, where he learned to play the piano at an early age. He attended Central Missouri Methodist College, in Fayette, Missouri, where he studied both piano and composition with N. Louise Wright, who recognized his remarkable talent and encouraged him to make music his career. Even the earliest of his compositions show a rare inventiveness and originality of harmony and texture, as well as the Gillock trademark, melodic beauty. Called "the Schubert of children’s composers" in tribute to his melodic gift, Gillock composed numerous solos for students of all levels and ensemble music for students and their teachers to play together. He summed up his guiding compositional principle by saying that "melody and rhythmic vitality are essential to compositions that students want to learn." This and others of his thoughts were transmitted to thousands of teachers and students through the hundreds of workshops he conducted over the years throughout the U.S.
Gillock lived for the first part of his career in New Orleans, where for twenty years he maintained a large teaching studio and was active in musical organizations. He reluctantly gave up private teaching to devote himself completely to composing, conducting workshops, and adjudicating. After moving to the Dallas area, he was the first and only judge for the first twenty-one years of the Junior Pianists’ Guild, which involved over fourteen hundred students.
Gillock was honored on five occasions by the National Federation of Music Clubs with the Award of Merit for Service to American Music, and his biography appears in the Dictionary of International Biography-Men of Achievement and in the International Who’s Who of Musicians.
Perhaps his greatest honor, though, is the continued and frequent appearance of his pieces on repertoire lists for piano festivals everywhere. His music has recently achieved great popularity in Japan, Germany, and elsewhere abroad.
Gillock died in Dallas in September of 1993 after a long illness.