SMITH, WILSON G. (19 Aug. 1856-27 Feb. 1929), composer, writer, and major music critic, was born in Elyria to George T. and Calista M. Smith. He graduated from WEST HIGH SCHOOL but health problems prevented him from attending college until 1876. He graduated from the University of Cincinnati and went directly to Berlin in 1880, where he studied music under Scharwenka, Kiel, Moszkonski, and Oscar Raif. Upon returning to Cleveland, Smith opened a studio and taught organ, piano, voice, and composition. He joined the CLEVELAND PRESS in 1902, known and admired for his honest music critique, which was both intelligent and laced with humor.
The author of many musical texts used in the U.S. and Europe, Smith's most popular work was Thematic Octave Studies: In the Form of Variations on Original Theme: Opus 68, published in 1902. Smith wrote over 1,000 compositions, including piano solos and suites, songs and technical studies for the piano, dances, and waltzes. His piano suites, such as The Bal Masque, have been orchestrated and played by the CLEVELAND ORCHESTRA. Smith's compositions also include the popular songs "If I But Knew," "Heart Sorrow," "Humoresque," and "Mazurka." His major work was Homage to Edward Grieg, a 5-part piece dedicated to the Scandinavian music master. Grieg himself commended Smith on this work.
Smith married Mez Brett, a writer and an artist, in Apr. 1883. They had a daughter, Edna. Smith died in Cleveland and is buried in Lakewood Cemetery.