Composer of state song dies
On this day in 1971, William John Marsh, the composer of "Texas, Our Texas," died in Fort Worth. Marsh, an Englishman, moved to Texas in 1904 and became a United States citizen in 1917. He taught composition, theory, and organ at Texas Christian University and published more than 100 pieces. His projects included anthems, pageants, masses, and reportedly the first opera, The Flower Fair at Peking (1931), to be composed and produced in Texas. He was also chairman of the Composer's Guild of the Texas Federation of Music Clubs. But his greatest claim to fame was the song “Texas, Our Texas.” He composed the music in 1924 to lyrics that he cowrote with Gladys Yoakum Wright. Their entry won a statewide contest and was officially adopted as the state song in 1929. John Philip Sousa extolled the piece as the finest state song he had ever heard.