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Video Published: 05 Feb 2024

NEA Opera Honors: An Oral History with Robert Ward

In 2011, composer Robert Ward was awarded an NEA Opera Honors award and sat down for an interview about opera and their life.

This interview was originally posted by the NEA on November 5, 2011.
The Oral History Project is supported by the Arthur F. and Alice E. Adams Charitable Foundation. 

Robert Ward, composer

Robert Eugene Ward (1917–2013) enjoyed a career as a composer, conductor, administrator, educator, and publishing executive. He studied composition at the Eastman School of Music in the 1930s before pursuing post-graduate studies in composition and conducting at The Juilliard School. Ward served as a United States Army band director during World War II and afterward taught at both Juilliard and Columbia University. He later became executive vice president and managing editor of Galaxy Music Corporation and Highgate Press (1956–1967), posts he held until his appointment as chancellor of the North Carolina School of the Arts (1967–1974). In 1974, Ward stepped down as chancellor to become a professor. From 1979 until his retirement in 1989, he was a music professor at Duke University. His compositions include eight operas, seven symphonies, and three concerti. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1962 for his opera The Crucible, based on the play by Arthur Miller.

Ward was a 2011 recipient of the NEA Opera Honors, a program administered by the National Endowment for the Arts from 2008 to 2011. The NEA Opera Honors recipients are now recognized in OPERA America’s Opera Hall of Fame.

Oral History Project

Discover the full collection of oral histories at the link below.