William (Will) Lockwood Huff (16 January 1875, Massieville, Ohio – 5 November 1942, Chillicothe, Ohio) was an American composer.
This Will Huff is not to be confused with the name Will Huff that composer Henry Fillmore sometimes used as a pseudonym. They are separate composers.
Huff's father was a photographer, and in his early manhood Will also worked in this profession. For the remainder of his life, he was an interior decorator, specializing in wallpaper hanging and painting. He was not a full-time professional musician except for a brief period when trouping with a circus band.
As a youth in Coalton, Ohio, Huff played in his first band, being one of the organizers of what the town folks called the "Kid's Band." He exhibited outstanding music talent, first on the alto horn and then the cornet. Eventually, he established a reputation as one of the finest cornetists in that part of the country.
He played with an Ohio National Guard band but did not serve on active duty. This came about during the Spanish-American War when he lived in Ironton, Ohio. There, he performed with the 17th Regiment Band. It was in Ironton that he first tried his hand at composition, his first effort being a march dedicated to the 17th Regiment band. He sent the manuscript to Rudolf Wurlitzer, a small music publisher in Cincinnati.
Patriotism was never at a more feverish pitch in the United States than during the Spanish-American War, and the time was right for marches with military titles. Wurlitzer published the 17th Regiment Band March plus Huff's Battleship Maine March and Canadian Club March in May, 1899. He received only five dollars for each march, but he was pleased to be a published composer. Throughout his life, he was known as a modest, non-aggressive man, and some felt that publishers took advantage of him.
During his middle years, Huff traveled about quite a bit. Wherever he moved, he organized and conducted bands. In addition, he taught privately, because the members of his bands were almost always beginners. He did this not only in Ohio but also in several small towns in Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, and Illinois. After World War I, he settled in Chillicothe, Ohio, and was appointed director of what was his finest band, the Odd Fellows (IOOF) Band.
His move to Chillicothe came about through an invitation to organize an employees' band for the Mead Pulp and Paper Company [Meaco]. The band was dissolved after a few months, and some of the better musicians joined Huff's IOOF band.
Will Huff was a popular local figure in his twilight years, and the bands he directed always drew sizable crowds at Yoctangee Park in Chillicothe. Each year, he dedicated a new march to one of the band's sponsors.
Huff's career as a composer can be separated roughly into five periods. In the first period, from 1899-1908, he published with the Rudolph Wurlitzer Company. The next period, beginning in 1908, and by far the most important, was when he was associated with the Fillmore Brothers Company. For reasons not fully understood, he broke away from Fillmore, and beginning in 1915, published with Will H. Smith of Dixon, Illinois. During the late 1920s, his music was published by the Star Music Company of Eldred, Pennsylvania. Thereafter, his music went unpublished.
He composed very little during the last decade of his life. He was content to perform occasionally with various bands in southern Ohio, making music with the many musician friends who thought so highly of him.
A total of 62 marches and other short compositions have been accredited to Huff, but because a number of unpublished marches have not been accounted for, the total number of his works might exceed 90.
Works for Winds
- 17th Regiment Band March (1899)
- Battleship Maine March (1899)
- Canadian Club March (1899)
- The Matinee (1913/1957)
- Melody to Youth Serenade (1016)
- Our Favorite Rag (1913)
- The Squealer (1912)
- The Squealer (arr. Glover) (1912/2018)