Merrill Bradshaw: Mormon Composer

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Merrill Bradshaw Mormon Composer

Merrill K. Bradshaw was a prolific composer who was also a professor of music and composer-in-residence at Brigham Young University where he taught for thirty-seven years and was the John R. Halliday Professor of Music from 1985 to 1994. Bradshaw worked closely with BYU’s orchestra conductor Ralph Laycock and BYU choir director Ralph Woodward. He composed over two hundred musical works, ranging from simple piano pieces and songs to symphonies, concertos, oratorios, and pageants. His best-known work is The Restoration oratorio. He retired in 1994 and filled his retirement years with fostering the work of other composers. He was executive director of the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition (1983–1999) and directed the Barlow International Competitions. He also served for a time on the board of directors for the American Composer’s Forum. He was also one of the founders of the Arts Council of Central Utah.

Bradshaw was born on June 18, 1929, in Lyman, Wyoming. During junior high and high school, he and his family lived in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Portland, Oregon. While studying for his undergraduate degree at BYU, he was mentored by John R. Halliday, Leon Dallin, and Crawford Gates. He went onto the University of Illinois where he earned his master’s degree in music with a minor in piano and his doctor of musical arts degree.

Bradshaw was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and oversaw the composition division of the Church’s music department in 1972. From 1972 to 1977, he headed a Church committee that worked to produce a new LDS hymnbook, which was published in 1985. He also wrote articles, reviews, and books on music and composition.

He died on July 12, 2000. He and his wife, Janet, were the parents of seven children.