William Peters Latham was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, January 4, 1917. He was educated in Kentucky, Ohio, and New York. He completed degrees in composition and theory at the Cincinnati College of Music in Cincinnati, Ohio. Later, he was awarded a Ph. D. in composition at the Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York (1951). His principal composition teachers were Eugene Goossens and Howard Hanson.
Professor Latham taught theory and composition at the University of Northern Iowa from 1946 to 1965, attaining the rank of Professor of Music in 1959. In 1965 he joined the faculty of the College of Music at the University of North Texas as Professor of Music and Coordinator of Composition. He was appointed Director of Graduate Studies in Music in 1969. In 1978 he was promoted to UNT's highest rank, Distinguished Professor of Music. Only seven other faculty members of the University of North Texas had been so honored at that time. He retired from active service at UNT in June 1984; he was formally designated Professor Emeritus by the Texas Board of Regents in November 1984.
Dr. Latham composed 118 works; sixty-two have been published, sixty-six remain in manuscript, but all have been performed in the U. S. and abroad. He received over twenty-five awards and commissions. His orchestral works have been performed by the Cincinnati Symphony, the Eastman-Rochester Philharmonic, the Dallas Symphony, the St. Louis Symphony, and Radio Orchestras in Brussels, Belgium and Hilversum, Holland, under such well known conductors as Eugene Goossens, Howard Hanson, Thor Johnson, Anshel Brusilow, John Giordano, and Walter Susskind.
Professor Latham died in Denton, Texas, on February 24, 2004.
From an article by Carol Latham that appeared in Rhythms, the newsletter of the UNI School of Music, Fall 2005, page 27.