Ralph Woodward

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Ralph Woodward was a Brigham Young University music professor and conductor. Throughout his life, he influenced and inspired many musicians and students, as noted by the numerous musical numbers performed at his funeral service.


Early Life

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Woodward was born in Shelley, Idaho on Nov. 21, 1918 to Alonzo R. "Lon" Woodward and Alta Mary Stanley. Woodward completed high school in Moreland, Idaho and graduated from the University of Idaho in 1940.

In 1942, Woodward married vocalist Margaret Barclay. The couple were sealed in the Salt Lake Temple in 1953. Mrs. Woodward preceded Mr. Woodward in death in 1987. He married Mary Brown Firmage in 1988.

Education and Career

Woodward's music career began as a high school music teacher in Idaho. He then pursued his graduate studies in Cincinnati after serving as a Special Services Officer in Japan after World War II.

He taught voice and choral music at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa before moving to Provo in 1955. He taught voice and conducting at BYU while his wife taught voice. He retired in 1984.

During his tenure at BYU, Woodward, a recipient of the Utah Music Educator and the Utah State Chamber of Commerce "Total Citizen" awards. He also served as director of choral activities and helped the university become one of the preeminent music schools in the United States.

Woodward's trademark was the BYU A Cappella Choir, which was the first non-Roman Catholic choir to be invited to sing in the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris three times. It also won the prestigious International Eisteddfod competition in Llangollen, Wales, and was the only U.S. musical organization to perform at the International Society of Music Educators' Convention in Warsaw, Poland, in 1980.

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Woodward, who was twice selected for the Karl G. Maeser Distinguished Teaching Award, also conducted the BYU Chamber Choir, Schola Cantorum, Oratorio Choir and established the Male Chorus. He also guest-conducted choirs throughout the U.S., including the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

In 1965, Woodward formed the Ralph Woodward Chorale, which ended in 1994 when the Woodwards served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Nauvoo, Illinois.

Two years prior to his mission, Woodward was an honoree of the Western Region Convention of the American Choral Directors' Association in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Personal Life

An active member of the LDS church, Woodward became a member of the Sunday School General Board and the Church General Music Committee, where he wrote several church-music guidebooks. Ralph Woodward died Tuesday, September 6, 2005.

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