Born: February 10, 1819, Boston, Massachusetts.
Died: May 7, 1900, Detroit, Michigan.
Buried: Woodlawn Cemetery, Detroit, Michigan.
Richard was the son of Deacon Nathaniel Willis (founder of The Youth’s Companion) and Hannah Parker, and brother of poet Nathaniel Parker Willis.
He attended Chauncey Hall, the Boston Latin School, and Yale University, graduating in 1841. He then went to Germany, where he studied six years under Xavier Schnyder and Moritz Hauptmann. While there, he became a personal friend of Felix Mendelssohn.
After returning to America, Willis served as music critic for the New York Tribune, The Albion, and The Musical Times, and edited The Musical Times (1852–64).
He moved to Detroit in 1861, where he lived the rest of his life, except 1874–78, when he was in Italy while his daughter attended school.