Wilhem, Guillaume Louis Bocquillon



Born in Paris in 1781; was the son of an army officer and at an early age was placed in military service. While still a young man, however, he withdrew from the army to devote himself to the study of music. He was a student at the school of Liancourt and then for two years at the Paris Conservatory. He afterwards became a teacher in the military school of St. Cyr, and in 1810 was appointed to a like position at the Lycee Napoleon, which was later known as the College Henri IV. This last position he held the rest of his life. About 1815 he became interested in the method of teaching singing in the schools of Paris, and in 1819 was chosen to create a system of music instruction for the primary schools of Paris. His system of organization of classes met with great success, and his energy and devotion to the cause had such an effect upon the school work as still to be felt, though his method has gone out of use. Aside from his school teaching he gave instruction to hundreds of people who could only devote a share of their time to music and out of these classes grew the famous Orpheon; the performances given by this great chorus were remarkable and reflected great credit upon Wilhem. The Orpheons all over France today testify to his lasting influence. Wilhem was in 1835 made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor, and the same year became director-general of all tne municipal schools of Paris. He wrote many choruses and songs for the Orpheons and published an extensive collection of choruses; a guide to his method of elementary class instruction in singing; a manual of singing for use in schools; and other didactic works. John Hullah adapted Wilhem's books for English use. He died in Paris.