And There I Stood with My Piccolo, originally published in 1948, is a zesty and colorful memoir of composer Meredith Willson’s early years—from growing up in Mason City, Iowa, to playing the flute with John Philip Sousa’s band and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, to a successful career in composing for radio and motion pictures in Hollywood. It was apparent to everyone, except maybe Willson himself, that he was on his way to something big.
Lighthearted and inspiring, it is no surprise Willson’s tales caught the attention of prominent Broadway producers. In 1957, just nine years after the publication of this book, The Music Man became a Broadway sensation, winning five Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Meredith Willson’s musical comedy is to this day arguably the most produced and beloved musical in American culture.