Born in Leubringen near Bienne. After graduating from the Muristalden (near Berne) teachers' training college, he began his musical studies with E. Graf in Berne, then went to S. Karg-Elert and R. Teichmaller in Leipzig, W Courvoisier in Munich and M. d'Ollone in Paris. 1928 he was appointed as theory teacher at the Conservatory in Berne, where he also conducted several choirs and small orchestras.
From 1933 on lung problems made sojourns in Montana and Davos necessary. He then settled in Zurich, where from 1942 onwards he taught theory and composition at the Conservatory. There is no doubt that Willy Burkhard was one of the outstanding and influential Swiss composers of our century. Both his works, in particular as a renovator of church music, and his didactic activities had a lasting influence an the future. His pupils include Giuseppe G. Englert, Klaus Huber, Rudolf Kelterborn, Ernst Pfiffner, Armin Schibler and Ernst Widmer, among others.
From official website: http://www.musicedition.ch/special/burkhard.htm