Olly Wilson, professor emeritus of music at the University of California, Berkeley died on March 12 in Berkeley. He was 80 years old.
A native of St. Louis, Wilson began earning money at the age of 15 by being a backup musician for jazz and rhythm and blues musicians. He earned a bachelor’s degree at Washington University in St. Louis, a master’s degree in music composition from the University of Illinois, and a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa.
After teaching at Florida A&M University and the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Dr. Wilson joined the music department faculty at the University of California, Berkeley in 1970. He chaired the music department from 1993 to 1997. Dr. Wilson retired from teaching in 2002.
In addition to teaching, Professor Wilson was an accomplished composer with his work played by the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony, the Chicago Symphony, and many others. He was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.