William Waterhouse has done much to advance the position of the bassoon in the world, spending much of this time studying the instrument, drumming out numerous articles and reference works and working as an editor on bassoon-obsessed publications. He wrote the entry on the bassoon in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, and translated all six volumes of Das Fagott by Verner Seltmann and Gunter Angerhofer, considered the comprehensive work on bassoon playing, reed-making, and so on.
That Waterhouse doesn't just write about bassoons has been proved time and time again in his superb career as a performer. He has performed with orchestras such as the London Philharmonia, the Italian-Swiss Radio Orchestra, and the London Symphony. He enjoyed a long stretch as co-principal bassoonist with the BBC Symphony, touring throughout Europe, Russia, the United States, China, Japan, and Australia. These tours were also a parade of legendary conductors: Toscanini, Furtwängler, Monteux, Karajan, and Boulez among them.
As a soloist, Waterhouse has had works written for him by at least two eminent composers, Jean Françaix and Gordon Jacob. For more than a decade beginning in 1959, much of Waterhouse's activity in London was centered around performances of The Melos Ensemble, a collection of about a dozen musicians dedicated to performing the repertoire for extended chamber ensembles, some of which had been all but abandoned. Other members of this group included violinists Emanuel Hurwitz and Ivor McMahon, violist Cecil Aronowitz, cellist Terence Weil, double bassist Adrian Beers, clarinetist Gervase de Peyer, and French horn player Neill Sanders. Waterhouse participated in many fine concerts and recordings with this ensemble, including the premiere of Britten's War Requiem in 1962. Waterhouse has also had an active career as a teacher, teaching more than 30 years at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, where he also curates of the school's collection of historic musical instruments. He has also held guest professorships far and wide, including Bloomington, IN; Melbourne, Australia; and Banff, Alberta.
It is a career full of honors, distinctions, and great accomplishments, to be sure. But the fact most deserving of status as a legend in Waterhouse's life concerns a bassoon, appropriately enough. It is the wonderful story of a prize Heckel bassoon, worth something on the order of $30,000, which was stolen from Waterhouse's car following a concert in Germany. It miraculously turned up 43 years later in a middle school in Huntington, New York, where it was identified by its serial number and returned to its ecstatic owner.