William Grosvenor Neil -The Composer Studio

How would you describe yourself?
Passionately musical and practically human. Self-doubt has plagued me all of my life even though, when I look back, my experiences have progressively led to more positive successes. I have an obsession for being and feeling healthy and it’s a prerequisite to enjoying the day and my creative pursuits. 

What is your biggest accomplishment?
That I have not allowed life challenges, crises, and disappointments to prevent me from a lifelong desire to be creative, specifically as a composer of contemporary classical music.  Musically, my most recent accomplishment is, that I have developed sufficiently as a pianist to perform classical repertoire professionally in public and financially, that I was able to establish a business in the financial services when I had just gone through a divorce and was broke and then continued to grow and sell that business thirty-five years later. Personally, although I consider it a joint accomplishment, my loving marriage of 29 years has been a great accomplishment. 

Have you read any good books?
Many! I am always reading at least four books at the same time: books that I read reviews about in the WSJ that pique my interest in the life of humans, places in nature, and, of course about great musicians. The most recent four:  Beyond Order by Jordan B. Peterson, Collected Stories of Edger Allen Poe, Sviatoslav Richter, and The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante, 

Who is your personal hero?
Anybody that rises from debilitating circumstances with faith and optimism.

Do you have a life philosophy that you live by?   
“Action, this day”. Winston Churchill
Choose either faith, courage, kindness, or gratitude in your engagement with the world each day.

What do you like most about yourself?
I’m self-disciplined.

If you could change the world, what would you change?
Increase the IQ of all of mankind by at least 25% across the board.

What do you think is the meaning of life?
Life has no meaning beyond existing in its own splendor but I think we can live a meaningful life when we find a way to share our goodness and talents with others. 

Do you prefer working alone, or do you like working with others?
I like to begin work within a personal vision that then requires a community of believers and collaborators to come to full fruition.

What’s something that no one would guess about you?
I’m 68 and I still rock climb.

What is your deepest belief about life?
That we are all are individually more powerful and God inspired than we imagine.

If you could wake up anywhere tomorrow, where would it be?
Next to my wife.

If you could be doing anything, anywhere right now, what and where would it be?
Discovering a new source of creative inspiration in an unexpectedly beautiful place. 

What’s the one thing you wish you could have a do-over for?
Be a more intelligent and thoughtful parent.

How do you work on yourself?
Little steps each day.

What’s one thing you’ve had to overcome in your life?

How do you handle being in a bad mood?
Immerse myself in nature or music.

Who is the most important person in your life?
My spouse.

What did you learn about yourself from any of your previous relationships?
Do not take love for granted.

What is your favorite music, or What is your all time favorite song?
Classical music. Sibelius Symphony No. 7.

If you weren’t here running your business or doing the work you do, what would you be doing instead?
Rock climbing or hiking with my spouse or son. 

How has this pandemic affected YOU or YOUR BUSINESS here in the Driftless?
As a Financial Planner (my day job and business) we did not miss a beat. As a composer: it was one of the most productive years yet.

What is another name you would give the Driftless?
The most mysterious land of the upper Mississippi.

What is your favorite season in the Driftless & why?
Mid-summer as it lives up to the description: halcyon days of summer.

Tell us of an experience /memory you had with Driftless lakes, rivers or waterways?
When we first experienced the Driftless we felt as though it had four dimensions: land of the valley, land of the meadows, land of the ridgetop, and the land of the bluffs.

Is there any place in the world you have been that reminds you of, or is similar to the Driftless?
The Rhine River valley of western Germany.

What is your best childhood memory? 
Camping at Cape Hatteras, NC.

What are some of your favorite places to go for fun here in the Driftless?
Grandad Bluff, Wild Cat State Park, Great River Trail, Perot State Park to name a few.

What are some of your favorite (non commercial) places to eat here in the Driftless?
The best way to eat is to grill out locally sourced grass-fed meat in one of the favorite places listed above.

If you were to tell a friend to come and visit the Driftless Area, and they ask “Why” … What would you tell them?
Come and see the best-kept secret in American.

Are you a Cat or Dog person?

Are you an Early Bird or Late Owl?
Early Bird

If given the opportunity, would you go to outer space?
No, there is too much to see here on earth.  Besides, if I want to go to outer space, I listen to great music. 

What color socks are you currently wearing?
I’m not wearing socks

What skill or instrument would you like to learn or play?
I would love to learn the violin.

What 1 message would you put in a bottle?
I love you.

What was your very first job?
Short order cook.

If any, what would be your dream job?
Scoring the films of Peter Weir.

How / where did you meet your best friend?
At a concert.

What does your dream vacation look like?
Traveling in remote natural and cultural places in Europe.

Tell us a short joke or punchline.
What did the monk say when he opened an empty box. “Nothing!” he exclaims. “Just what I always wanted.

If you could learn another language, what would that be?

I Would Rather …
Live in a small cottage somewhere in Scotland.


By: William Grosvenor Neil