Cecil Burleigh was born April 17, 1885 in Wyoming, New York. The family moved to Omaha, Nebraska, where at the age of 6 he showed a talent for music and was encouraged to play the violin. By the time the family moved to Bloomington, he had become proficient and while in high school composed incidental music. In his mid-teens in the early 1900s, he was called “the boy wonder of Bloomington, Ill.” At 17, Burleigh was sent to study in Berlin, Germany. In 1905, back in the states, he studied at the Chicago Music College. He later taught at the Denver Institute of Music, Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa, as well as the University of Montana.
By 1919 he had published several works and went to New York where he played selections of his compositions on a program that included famous actors, singers and musicians of the day. In 1940 he married Jessie Meredith Jennings of Madison, Wisconsin. After two years as a concert artist he came to the University of Wisconsin at Madison where he retired in 1955 after 34 years as music professor. After retiring, he took up painting. Cecil Burleigh, Professor Emeritus of the University of Wisconsin and “internationally known musician,” died on July 29, 1980.