A world renowned musician, scholar and music teacher, Dr. Willard Palmer wrote 789 published works, including an accordion method, several piano methods, a method for Hammond Chord Organ, a guitar method, hundreds of solo pieces and many choral works, many of which have been translated into German, Japanese, French, Dutch and Spanish. He was also the choir director of Memorial Lutheran Church in Houston, Texas for many years.
Dr. Palmer was a child prodigy; he played the piano on the radio at age 13 and studied piano and accordion, which were to form the basis of his musical endeavors. He was a piano student of Mae Vardeman, who encouraged and nurtured his ability to improvise by teaching him the fundamentals of correct piano technique. During his college years at Whitworth College in Brookhaven, Mississippi and Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi, he continued to play the accordion and piano on radio shows and in various ensembles on and off campus. After receiving his Bachelor's degree from Millsaps, he studied at the Conservatory of Leipzig, Germany, on a two-year scholarship. He did post-graduate work at the University of Houston and joined their music faculty, teaching the first successful college courses in accordion for 18 years.
A meticulous scholar, Dr. Palmer's later years were dedicated to research in Classical and Baroque music and teaching methods. Recognized worldwide as an authority on Baroque music ornamentation, his work in this field was the basis of the highly acclaimed Alfred Masterworks series of publications. In recognition of his achievements in the field of musicological research, he was awarded a Doctor of Humanities degree in 1971 and a Doctor of Music degree in 1983. A director of the Riemenschneider Bach Institute, Dr. Palmer was a member of the American Federation of Musicians, Local #65, the American Accordionists' Association and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. He is also a co-author of Alfred's Basic Piano Library with Morton Manus and Amanda Vick Lethco.
Dr. Palmer, who passed away on April 30, 1996, was beloved by many in the music field. He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Ruby Lenoire Touchstone Palmer, and three children, Willard, Judith (Howard) and Thomas.