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Property from the Estate of "The Music Man" Meredith Willson on the auction block
A pair of William Haines single arm sofas mid 20th century, height 30 1/2in (77cm); width 84in (213.5cm); depth 54in (137cm). Est. $2,500-3,500. Property from the Estate of songwriter, composer, conductor and playwright Meredith Willson and his wife Rosemary.
LOS ANGELES, CA.- Bonhams will feature property from the Estate of songwriter, composer, conductor and playwright Meredith Willson and his wife Rosemary during its fall 2011 auctions. Proceeds of the sales will benefit the Meredith and Rosemary Willson Charitable Foundation, whose goal is to keep the philanthropic legacy of Meredith and Rosemary alive by supporting the causes and charities that were important to them, including the arts, music education and scholarships, as well as medical research and children’s care.

Best known for writing the book, music and lyrics for the hit Broadway musical “Meredith Willson’s The Music Man,” Willson, an Academy-Award® nominee and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, wrote three other Broadway musicals and composed numerous popular songs and symphony film scores.

Willson was born in Mason City, Iowa, and attended Frank Damrosch's Institute of Musical Art, which later became the Juilliard School in New York, N.Y. A noted flute and piccolo player, Willson was a member of the John Phillip Sousa Band and, later, the New York Philharmonic Orchestra under Arturo Toscanini. He then moved to San Francisco where he took on a position as Concert Director at KFRC, a radio station in the city. Willson later relocated to Hollywood, Calif., where he became musical director for the NBC Radio Network.

His work in films included composing the score for Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator” (1940), for which he received an Academy Award® nomination for Best Original Score, and arranging music for the score of William Wyler’s “Little Foxes” (1941). “Little Foxes” earned him the Academy Award® nomination of Best Music Score of a Dramatic Picture.

He went on to work for the US Armed Forces Radio Service during World War II. It was during this time that Willson became the bandleader and a regular character on the Burns and Allen radio program.

Following WWII, Willson returned to network radio and became the musical director for a prestigious comedy-variety program “The Big Show,” hosted by actress Tallulah Bankhead. Willson quickly became part of one of the show's few running gags. He also wrote the song “May the Good Lord Bless and Keep You” for the show.

Willson served as Musical Director for the Golden State's centennial production at the Hollywood Bowl in 1950. It was through working on this production that he met Franklin Lacey, who was instrumental in developing the story for a musical Willson had been working on that would become known as “Meredith Willson’s The Music Man.”

“The Music Man,” Willson’s most famous work, premiered on Broadway in 1957, and since its creation has been adapted twice for film. Written over the course of eight years, the musical was, in Willson’s words, "an Iowan's attempt to pay tribute to his home state." He wrote more than 40 songs for the production, which won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and Willson received the first Grammy Award for Best Original Cast Album (Broadway or Television). Three songs from the production have become American standards: “Seventy-Six Trombones,” “Till There Was You” and “Gary, Indiana.”

Willson married Rosemary Sullivan in 1968. Following Willson’s passing, Rosemary dedicated herself to community and philanthropic pursuits, as well as the preservation of Willson’s stage and musical works. In addition, she was on the Board of Directors of the John Douglas French Alzheimer’s Foundation, was a supporter St. Jude's Children's Hospital and the Mayo Clinic and she funded scholarships for young musicians at Pepperdine University, the University of Iowa and the Idyllwild Arts Academy.

Rosemary also provided the major funding for The Music Man Square project in Willson's home town of Mason City, Iowa, and for the first student residence hall at The Juilliard School in New York, as well as a theater at the school.

Highlights from the Collection of the late Meredith and Rosemary Willson feature an impressive group of furnishing by famed Hollywood high-style designer William Haines, including a pair of upholstered and leather-clad elbow chairs (est. $1,500-2,000); a pair of upholstered single-arm sofas (est. $2,500-3,500) and a parcel gilt and faux grained octagonal dining table with Lazy Susan (est. $1,500-2,000). From his studio, featured is Meredith’s ebonized Baldwin Grand piano (est. $5,000-6,000). Also from Willson’s studio is an emotionally charged painting – “The repentant St. Peter” from the Circle of Jusepe de Ribera, oil on canvas, 43 ¼ x 65 ¾ inches (est. $25,000-35,000), which spent many years over his fireplace.

Jewelry of note from the collection includes an old-European cut diamond solitaire ring. Mounted in white gold, the diamond weighs 5.45 carats and is estimated at $20,000-30,000. Another highlight is a star sapphire and diamond pendant necklace mounted in platinum (est. $10,000-15,000).





Last Week News

September 26, 2011

Andy Warhol's headline works presented by the National Gallery of Art, Washington

80 outstanding 19th century French drawings from the Louvre go on view at the Morgan Library

With over one hundred loans "Picasso 1905 in Paris" exhibition at Kunsthalle Bielefeld

American artist Dan Colen's first major exhibition in Rome opens at Gagosian Gallery

Dutch and Flemish paintings on view at the Museum of Fine Arts in Saint Petersburg

The Denver Art Museum is first venue for "Robert Adams: The Place We Live" exhibition

Rijksmuseum is largest loaning institution to exhibition at Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna

Exhibition of recent work by Japanese artist and architect Yutaka Sone at David Zwirner

Major exhibition on Sam Maloof and his circle of artist friends on view at the Huntington Library

Survey exhibition of paintings and drawings by Hans Burkhardt at Jack Rutberg Fine Arts

"Combinations Described" by Bruce Nauman on view at Donald Young Gallery

NRW-Forum Exhibition by Magnum photographers focuses on war and crisis photography

Connecticut College's steel house by Winslow Ames getting chance to shine again

Two new AGA exhibitions explore pioneers of both early French photography and the frontier landscape

Ohio mosque designed to blend in, not stand out

Exhibition is inspired by the concepts behind Czech author Milan Kundera's novel Slowness

Docks Art Fair achieves a highly praised 3rd edition

FLAG Art Foundation presents two exhibitions: Art², a group exhibition and Jane Hammond: Fallen

High presents major exhibition of wildlife sculptures by artist Grainger McKoy

September 25, 2011

Lehmbruck Museum's most extensive exhibition celebrates its 100th anniversary

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Presents "Andy Warhol: Shadows"

Houston's Menil Collection Announces Return of Byzantine Frescoes to Cyprus in 2012

MFA Houston announces major Frank Stella acquisition: "Palmito Ranch" (1961), a landmark in American painting

Made in the UK: Contemporary art British art at the Museum of Art Rhode Island School of Design

Edge of Empires: Pagans, Jews and Christians at Institute for the Study of the Ancient World

Third solo exhibition by Brazilian artist Beatriz Milhazes on view at Galerie Max Hetzler

Restoration work to begin on Joan Miró mural in Wichita State University's Ulrich Museum of Art

Larry Wright appointed Managing Director of Bellevue Arts Museum in Washington

Exhibition at Victoria & Albert Museum tackles tough task: define "Postmodernism"

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De La Warr Pavilion explores Andy Warhol's beliefs, lifestyle and above all, his legacy

Neuberger Museum of Art presents first ten-year survey of paintings and drawings by Dana Schutz

Arnolfini celebrates 50th anniversary of presenting the very best in contemporary art in all its forms

Des Moines Art Center exhibition explores issues of loss and extinction in Dario Robleto's work

New study identifies pine bush as "Stop Over" for migrating birds

Taglialatella Galleries announcemens two new executive positions

National Museum of American History receives Peace Corps objects

Andrew Raftery: Open House on view at the Fleming Museum of Art

"Modify as Needed" at the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami

Newark Museum Patchwork exhibition now open

Studies suggest 2 waves of ancient Asia settlement

Massachusetts library undoes century-old Twain book ban

Israel donates money for preservation of Auschwitz

Nation's largest pinball museum to open in Baltimore

September 24, 2011

Copyrights and images from Marilyn Monroe's first photo shoot to be auctioned

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Turkish Republic reach agreement for transfer of top half of Weary Herakles

The Morgan Library & Museum holds major exhibition this fall celebrating the birth of Charles Dickens

Richard Serra: Two new sculptures, Junction and Cycle, on view at the Gagosian Gallery

Works by world's preeminent contemporary artists sold at Christie's New York to benefit Artists for Haiti

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Focused survey of installation art by Sanford Biggers at the Brooklyn Museum

Seeing Stars: Visionary Drawing from the collection on view at the Menil Collection

Sotheby's London to offer important newly discovered and unseen early photographs by Linnaeus

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Large scale steel sculptures by Jonathan Prince at The Sculpture Garden at 590 Madison Avenue

First solo show in Mexico by Darío Villalba at Luis Adelantado Gallery in Mexico City

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De Hallen Haarlem presents an international group exhibition centering on an artwork by Louise Bourgeois

The Rencontres D'Arles: Photography festival 2011 breaks attendance record

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September 23, 2011

"MemyselfandI: Photo portraits of Picasso" opens at the Museum Ludwig in Cologne

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Site specific retrospective installation by pioneering Los Angeles artist Betye Saar at Roberts & Tilton

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Tate Britain unveils John Martin's lost masterpiece for the first time in almost a century

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Art Moscow welcomes over forty national and international Contemporary art galleries

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