Remembering William Wrzesien

William Wrzesien was part of NEC's woodwinds faculty for over 40 years, including 28 years as department chair, leaving an indelible mark on a generation of NEC students. Wrzesien also earned three degrees at NEC and chaired the Preparatory School's woodwinds faculty.

Former faculty member Bill Wrzesian
Photo credit: Susan Wilson

Our community mourns the passing of William (Bill) Wrzesien, who taught at New England Conservatory from 1966 through 2007, having completed a Bachelor of Music, Master of Music, and Artist Diploma at NEC. He served as NEC's woodwinds faculty chair beginning in 1979, and also chaired NEC's Preparatory woodwinds faculty during the 1970s and '80s.

During his years at NEC, Wrzesien was principal clarinetist of the Boston Ballet Orchestra and the Boston Lyric Opera Orchestra. He was a founding member of the Boston Music Viva Contemporary Music Ensemble, and performed as a soloist and chamber music player at major concert venues and festivals including Tanglewood, Marlboro, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, the Library of Congress, the Arnold Schoenberg Institute at USC, ISCM World Music Days, Jeunesses Musicales Berlin, Brucknerfest, Edinburgh, and Holland Festivals.

Throughout his career, he also served as principal clarinetist with the Handel & Haydn Society, the Opera Company of Boston Orchestra, the Boston Classical Orchestra, and the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra. He also served on the faculty of Boston Conservatory, University of Massachusetts/Lowell, and Longy School of Music.

Bill is survived by his wife Jill, five stepchildren, and five grandchildren.



“Bill Wrzesien was a wonderful musician, educator, and human being. His dedication and professionalism as NEC Woodwind Chair may never again be matched, and his impact remains with us as the Woodwind Department of 2020 is, in nearly every respect, still his. Those of us who knew and worked with Bill are richer for having known him.”

– Richard Svoboda, Woodwind Chair


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