Born at Schmalkalden. He studied under Bott and Spohr at Cassel and Andre and Aloys Schmitt in Frankfort. He was appointed director of the Liedertafel at Krefeld, and among other songs and choruses composed the music for the famous " Wacht am Rhein." The words were Max Schneckenberger's. During the war of 1870-1871 this was popularized, and became one of the national songs of Germany. For this work alone Wilhelm has been celebrated and will always have a place in German musical history. In 1871 he was granted a yearly pension as a mark of gratitude and esteem, and Empress Augusta presented him a gold medal.