William Billings

BILLINGS, William. b. Boston, Massachusetts, 7 October 1746; d. Boston, 26 September 1800. Billings lived his entire life in Boston except for occasional short trips to nearby towns to teach singing schools. He received only a rudimentary formal education, but an inquiring mind led him to read and study widely on his own. His basic musical education came through singing schools (class lessons in reading music and choral singing) common throughout New England during the latter half of the 18th century (see Singing school*). Much of his musical knowledge was also gained by the study of various psalmody collections, such as William Tans’ur*’s The Royal Melody Compleat (London, 1755) and Aaron...

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