Name: Latham, William P.

Historical Note:

William Peters Latham was born on January 14, 1917 in Shreveport, Louisiana. Census data shows the family had relocated to Cincinnati by 1920, and to Wilmore, Kentucky by 1930, and Latham's papers reference his childhood in Kentucky. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the from Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, and master’s degree from College of Music in Cincinnati, which later merged to become the College-Conservatory of Music. Latham studied under Eugène Goossens while at the College of Music, and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra performed Latham's tone poem The Lady of Shalott under Goosens' direction. Latham briefly served as instructor of woodwind and brass instruments at the North Texas State Teachers College, now the University of North Texas, in 1938 and 1939.

Latham enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942, serving in the 10th Cavalry Band and as an infantry platoon leader during the Second World War, receiving a Purple Heart. After his military service, he taught at Eastern Illinois University, and married his wife, Joan Seyler Latham, a composer who also earned a master's degree from the Cincinnati College of Music, in 1946.

From 1946 until 1965, Latham taught at Iowa State Teachers’ College in Cedar Falls, Iowa, which is now the University of Northern Iowa. He completed a PhD in music composition from Eastman School of Music in 1951, studying under Howard Hanson and Herbert Elwell.

In 1965, Latham joined the North Texas music faculty as professor of music and coordinator of composition, became Director of Graduate Studies in Music in 1969. In 1978, he became one of only eight faculty members at that point to achieve the rank of Distinguished Professor of Music. He retired in 1984 and received the title of Professor Emeritus, but remained active as a composer. William P. Latham died in Denton on February 24, 2004.


1920, 1930, and 1940 Census via

"From the Archives: William P. Latham, an American Composer," UNT Music Library via UNT Digital Library, viewed October 9, 2020.

"Joan Seyler Latham of Denton, Texas | 1921 - 2017 | Obituary," Bill DeBerry Funeral Directors, viewed October 9, 2020 (

William Lathan [sic] in the 1920 United States Federal Census, via, viewed October 9, 2020

William P Latham in the 1930 United States Federal Census, via, viewed October 9, 2020.

William Latham in the 1940 United States Federal Census, via, viewed October 9, 2020.

Toni Heinzl, "Composer gave his family gifts of music," Fort Worth Star-Telegram, February 27, 2004, page 38.

"North Texas School Adds Three Teachers," Denton Record-Chronicle, September 12, 1965, page 15

"William Peters Latham," University of Northern Iowa Special Collections & Archives, accessed October 8, 2020

Nicolas Slonimsky, Laura Kuhn, and Dennis McIntire, "Latham, William P(eters)," Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians via, viewed October 8, 2020.

Wikipedia article on William P. Latham, viewed October 8, 2020.

Records or Manuscript Collections Created by Latham, William P.

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