5 April 2013

Robert Ward, 95, Who Composed Pulitzer Prize-Winning Operatic Adaptation of The Crucible, Has Died

Cleveland, Ohio,  September 13, 1917 —  Durham, North Carolina,  April 3, 2013 

American composer Robert Ward, 95, whose operatic adaptation of The Crucible won him the 1962 Pulitzer Prize for music, has died. 

A Cleveland native, Ward entered the Eastman School of Music on scholarship in 1935, and went on to postgraduate studies with Frederick Jacobi and Bernard Wagenaar at the Juilliard School. Concurrent to his studies in New York, Ward began his professional academic career teaching a music appreciation course at Queen's College, New York, where he would later be appointed an assistant professor of music. In 1941, while still a graduate student at Juilliard, Ward premiered his Symphony No. 1 with the Juilliard Orchestra. 

Ward's career and studies were interrupted by World War II, during which time he served as an army band director, and found himself stationed in Fort Riley, Kansas, San Luis Obispo, California, and later the Aleutian Islands, Hawaii and the Philippines. 

Following the war, Ward was awarded the Bronze Star for Meritorious Service. He returned to New York, graduated from Juilliard and gained a teaching position there, all the while producing a steady stream of symphonic, concert, chamber and vocal compositions. Ward's first opera, Pantaloon — based on the Leonid Andreyev play He Who Gets Slapped — had its world premiere at Juilliard in 1956. Featuring a libretto by Ward's Juilliard classmate Bernard Stambler, Pantaloon — eventually re-titled after its source material — received its professional premiere at New York City Opera in 1959 as part of the company's "All American" opera season. 

In 1956, Ward left Juilliard to serve as executive vice-president and managing editor of music publisher Galaxy Music Corporation, which he oversaw until 1967, the year that he was appointed chancellor of the North Carolina School of the Arts. In 1974, he departed that position but remained a presence on the school's composition faculty. From 1978 until his 1987 retirement, he served as a composition professor at Duke University. 

In total, Ward composed eight operas, two cantatas, seven symphonies, three concerti and a number of songs for solo voice with accompaniment. The Crucible, which became Ward's best-known opera, had its world premiere at NYCO in 1961, with Emerson Buckley conducting. Adapted from Arthur Miller's play, The Crucible went on to win the New York Music Critics Circle Citation in addition to the Pulitzer Prize. In 1965, The Crucible played in performances at San Francisco Opera, and City Opera revived its production in 1968. Subsequent performances were mounted by Lake George Opera (1966), Seattle Opera (1968), Tulsa Opera (1995) and, in 2008, the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts. spacer 

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