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SFCM Remembers Musician and Professor William Wellborn

Wellborn joined SFCM in 1989 and worked across several divisions of the Conservatory, leaving a lasting legacy on students and faculty.

November 2, 2023 by Mark Taylor

The San Francisco Conservatory of Music mourns the loss of musician and longtime faculty member William (Bill) Wellborn, who died October 28. 

Wellborn began working at the Conservatory in 1989 in the Pre-College and Continuing Education programs as a piano teacher; he would later join the Collegiate division as a professor of piano pedagogy.

While he will be remembered as an inspiring artist and performer, teaching was an equal passion of Wellborn's. In 2017 he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the California Association of Professional Music Teachers (CAPMT). "I remember when he came into my office to tell me the new., He was so excited and proud to be recognized for his teaching acumen," said SFCM Dean and Chief Academic Officer Jonas Wright. "A well-deserved honor and highly reflective of his many accomplishments both within and outside of the Conservatory," he added. 

William (Bill) Wellborn.

William (Bill) Wellborn.

A longtime friend of Wellborn's—and Director Emeritus of the Pre-College—John McCarthy said, "Bill Wellborn was our colleague, but primarily our treasured friend. His kindness, insight and generosity of spirit had a profound impact on the lives of countless students, and each one of us who had the pleasure of knowing him."

SFCM Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Michael Roest also remembered him fondly: "Bill was a wonderful musician and dedicated educator with boundless energy, sharp wit, and a huge heart," Roest said "I know that his legacy will live on through all those he profoundly inspired."

Originally from San Antonio, Texas, Wellborn received a MM (New England Conservatory) and DMA (University of Texas) in Performance, and a BM in Piano Pedagogy (University of Texas). A devotee of both Franz Liszt and Frédéric Chopin, Bill was on the national board of the American Liszt Society and was the founding president of the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the American Liszt Society; he also served as Vice-President for the San Francisco Council of the Chopin Foundation. Wellborn also spent 14 years involved with A CONCERTed Effort, a Bay Area concert series that raised over $2,000,000 for various AIDS organizations.

"To know Bill was to be his friend. We will deeply miss him, but will remain inspired by his legacy of outstanding teaching and artistry," Wright added. 

A memorial and celebration of life will be held for William Wellborn on Friday, November 17 at 2pm at the SF Columbarium, 1 Loraine Ct., in San Francisco. All are welcome, though if you know you will attend, please RSVP to

More information and ways to send flowers, messages, photos, and other memories can be found here.