William Motzing (1937-2014), Prolific Musician and Teacher

William (Bill) Motzing

William (Bill) Motzing, internationally renowned jazz musician and teacher.

On Friday, 31 January 2014 a former, highly-esteemed colleague and great friend of the Con, William (Bill) Motzing, passed away in New York. A formidable, international musician and teacher, Bill’s contribution to the Sydney Conservatorium of Music over several decades cannot be overstated. His influence over generations of Con jazz students and the wider jazz community is well recognised today.

Craig Scott, Senior Lecturer in Jazz Studies and Chair of Jazz Unit, Sydney Conservatorium of Music said: “I do not believe that I have met any other musician whose expertise ranged over so many areas, from trombone playing, arranging and composing to education and conducting. He was even sound man and arranger for Blood Sweat & Tears and did the sound for the Miles Davis Band, who was the support band for Blood Sweat & Tears on that occasion. His loss to the music community and his friends and colleagues is a profound one.”

Bill undertook several roles at the Con during his long and diverse career, teaching theory, arranging, modern jazz history, improvisation and ensembles. It was a world tour from 1968 to 1970 as sound designer for the contemporary jazz-rock band Blood Sweat & Tears, which first brought Bill to Australia. After the tour he decided to relocate to Australia and took up his first role as jazz lecturer at the Con until 1980.

In 1981 he returned to the Con to again take up a position of jazz lecturer until 1990, during which time he was also briefly Chair of Jazz studies prior to Don Burrows assuming that role. Then in 1998 he returned to fill a vacancy in the jazz unit and stayed until the end of the 2012.

Whilst in Australia he conducted major symphony orchestras including the Australian Chamber Orchestra and the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestras. His conducting roles also extended to several key European orchestras including the BBC Radio Orchestra, the Irish Radio/Television Concert Orchestra, the Czech Philharmonic, the Budapest Opera Orchestra and the Babelsberg Film Studio Orchestra in Berlin.

He was a great composer, arranger, producer and conductor of several stage productions including the Academy Award presentations and over 100 albums and CDs in the USA, Australia and Europe. As composer/arranger, his film credits include The Quiet American, Soul Food and The Simpsons, in addition to Australian film scores and television series Mother and Son, Come in Spinner, Brides of Christ and Young Einstein.

A professional trombonist, Bill also performed with Kai Winding Septet, Jon Eardley Quintet, Gerry Mulligan Big Band, Bill Russo Big Band, Sal Salvador Big Band, Eastman-Rochester Symphony and the Pittsburgh Symphony.

William Motzing was born in the USA. He graduated with a Bachelor of Music from Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, and continued his studies earning a Masters Degree from Manhattan School of Music. He went on to study conducting with Ernest Matteo, Nicholas Flagello, Ionel Perlea and Olga von Geczy; composition with Ludmila Ulehla and John Mayer at Birmingham Conservatoire (UK) and arranging with Rayburn Wright.

Bill Motzing is survived by his son Bill Motzing Junior, daughter Carrie and their families.