Arthur Wills (musician)

For the British politician, see Arthur Walters Wills.

Dr Arthur Wills OBE (born 1926) is a musician, composer, and professor. He was Director of Music at Ely Cathedral from 1958 to 1990, and also held a Professorship at the Royal Academy of Music in London from 1964 until 1992. He has toured extensively as a recitalist in Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand, and Hong Kong, and has broadcast, appeared on TV and made many recordings, both as a soloist and with the Ely Choir.


He has composed prolifically for the organ[1] and choir. His ensemble works include a Concerto with Strings and Timpani, a Concerto for Guitar and Organ, and a Symphonic Suite: "The Fenlands" for Brass Band and Organ.

His Choral Concerto, "The Gods of Music" for Organ, Chorus and Brass with Percussion Ensemble was commissioned for the Biannual Keyboard Festival of the University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia in 1992.

His secular music includes seven song cycles, and an opera, Winston and Julia, based on the George Orwell novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four.

His book, Organ, appeared in the Menuhin Music Guide Series in 1984, with a second edition in 1993 and a third reprint in 1997.

The Ely Choir has recorded a CD (HAVPCD 197) of his choral and organ music from 1955 to 1990 on Herald AV Publications. In May 1999 Hyperion Records reissued two recordings from the early 1980s on one CD (CDH55003): his Symphonic Suite: "The Fenlands" for Organ and Brass Band (featuring the City of Cambridge Band), including also music by Elgar and Walton, together with his transcription of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition for solo Organ.

His recording Full Stops, was first issued in 1978. It includes his Variations on "Amazing Grace". It was issued on CD (84305) in 1995 by Meridian.

In celebration of Wills' 75th birthday in 2001, Jeremy Filsell recorded a CD of his organ music on the organ of Tonbridge School Chapel. Wills is the voice of the narrator in his Variations on a Theme of Henry Purcell, "Wondrous Machine" (Guild GMCD 7225).

Novello published Wills' transcription for organ of three movements from Gustav Holst's The Planets Suite: Mars, Venus and Jupiter. These were recordings of Joseph Nolan at the organ of Ripon Cathedral on Herald AV Publications (HAVPCD 274).

Robert Crowley studied with Dr. Wills at the RAM and has recorded Icons (LAMM168D), a CD of Dr. Wills' organ music on the rebuilt organ of Ely Cathedral. The CD's record label, Lammas, is headed by Lance Andrews who was a chorister at Ely Cathedral in the early 1950s when Dr. Wills was Assistant Organist.

Arthur Wills' memoirs, Full with Wills (ISBN 1905203896), were published by Pen Press in 2006.


Arthur Wills was appointed OBE in 1990.


  1. ↑ Handy, Maxine. Burning in Blueness The Dark-Light of a Countertenor. p. 120. ISBN 9781446670316. Retrieved 3 November 2014.

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