Meredith Willson was born in 1902 in Mason City, Iowa. He learned to play the flute as a child and began playing semi-professionally while still in high school. After high school he left Iowa to study at the Damrosch Institute of Musical Art (later the Julliard School), receiving flute instruction from Georges Barrere, the world-renown flutist. While still attending the Institute, he was hired as principle flutist and piccolo player for the John Philip Sousa Band. He later joined the New York Philharmonic Orchestra where he was 1st flutist. He became musical director for various radio programs throughout the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, including Tallulah Bankhead's program, The Big Show," for which he wrote the hit song "May The Lord Bless and Keep You." He composed the scores for the movies The Great Dictator and The Little Foxes, as well as symphonic, band, and choral works, including The Jervis Bay: Symphonic Variations on an American Theme and Anthem of the Atomic Age. Willson wrote three Broadway musicals: The Music Man, his first and most successful; The Unsinkable Molly Brown (music and lyrics), and Here's Love (book, music and lyrics). As an author he has published two autobiographical works (And There I Stood with My Piccolo and Eggs I Have Laid), one novel (Who Did What to Fedalia) and a memoir about the making of The Music Man (But He Doesn't Know the Territory). "