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Belmont University | Belief in Something Greater

William Pursell

William PursellDr. William Pursell is an Associate Professor of Music at Belmont University and has been a member of the faculty since 1980. As a pianist and composer, he teaches courses in music history, theory, composition and arranging.

Dr. Pursell received his Doctorate of Musical Arts, Master of Music, and Bachelor of Music from the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester. He is a noted composer and arranger in the Nashville music community as exemplified with his two Grammy nominated recordings and world premiere performances by the Nashville Symphony (i.e. 'Heritage Symphony'). Dr. Pursell was named Composer of the Year by the Tennessee Music Teachers Association in 1985. His orchestral tone poem 'Christ Looking Over Jerusalem' is featured on a recent Mercury compact disc performed by the Eastman-Rochester Orchestra conducted by Howard Hanson. In recognition for his three movement work written for his Master's thesis, Dr. Pursell was awarded the inaugural Edward B. Benjamin Award presented by the Eastman School of Music.

Dr. Pursell arrived in Nashville in the early 1960s and started recording on many legendary sessions: Boots Randolph (Yackety-Sax, Monument), Patsy Cline (Sweet Dreams, Decca/MCA), Jim Reeves (RCA), Eddie Arnold (RCA), Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash (Ring of Fire, Columbia), Marty Robbins (Don't Worry, Columbia 1961), Carl Smith, and Epic artist Sammy Smith (Help Me Make It Through the Night- original). Late in the 1960s Dr. Pursell travelled to Europe for various recording, producing, arranging, conducting and /or composing sessions (Word Inc., Cyprus Gardens Waterski Show, and 3 albums for National Geographic). Dr. Pursell signed from 1962 to 1967 as a Columbia recording piano artist. His first solo album with orchestra was Our Winter Love (instrumental) in 1963. It went to Cashbox and Billboard magazine's 'Top 10' in the United States. Througout his career, Dr. Pursell has composed for television, including an ABC network documentary music (A Time to Heal). He served on the Board of Governors for the Nashville chapter of NARAS for ten terms during the 1960s and 1970s. During this time he was nominated for two Grammys - Music of Ken Medema (Word Music, 1974) and American Christmas for National Geographic in 1978. Dr. Pursell recently orchestrated a four movement piano composition entitled The Four Seasons of Marrcrest (written by Belmont faculty member Dr. D. Landes). It was performed by the Chattanooga Symphony with Belmont's Dr. R. Marler playing solo piano. The piece was performed again in the fall 2003 by the Chattanooga Symphony and later with the Louisville Symphony.

Listen to Dr. Pursell's Sonata for Piano No. 2

Contact: (615) 460-8220