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Ralph Woodward papers

Identifier: MSS 7814

Scope and Contents

This collection contains personal papers, a copy of Ralph Woodward's thesis on Liszt, yearbooks from his time at university, photographs and slides of his musical career, scrapbooks, correspondence, and other memorabilia from his students and members of the BYU A Cappella tours, journals, and awards relating to Ralph Woodward, 1937-2005.


  • 1937-2005


Conditions Governing Access

Open to public research.

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances.

Permission to publish material from Ralph Woodward papers must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Board of Curators.

Biographical History

Ralph Woodward (1918-2005) was a professor of music at Brigham Young University and a prominent Mormon composer and conductor.

Ralph Woodward was born in Shelley, Idaho, on November 21, 1918, to Alonzo R. "Lon" Woodward and Alta Mary Stanley. He completed high school in Moreland, Idaho, and graduated from the University of Idaho in 1940. In 1942, he married vocalist Margaret Barclay. The couple were sealed in the Salt Lake Temple in 1953. Margaret Woodward died in 1987. He remarried to Mary Brown Firmage in 1988.

He began his music career a high school music teacher in Idaho. After serving as a Special Services Officer in Japan after World War II he pursued his graduate studies in Cincinnati. He taught voice and choral music at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, and then moved to Provo in 1955. He taught voice and conducting at Brigham Young University (BYU) until his retirement in 1984.

During his tenure at BYU, Ralph Woodward, a recipient of the Utah Music Educator and the Utah State Chamber of Commerce "Total Citizen" awards, served as director of choral activities and helped the university become one of the preeminent music schools in the United States. His 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. He won various awards including the Karl G. Maeser Distinguished Teaching Award. He 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, he formed the Ralph Woodward Chorale, which ended in 1994 when he and his wife served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Nauvoo, Illinios. Two years prior to his mission, he was an honoree of the Western Region Convention of the American Choral Directors' Association in Honolulu, Hawaii. An active member of the LDS church, he was a member of the Sunday School General Board and the Church General Music Committee, where he wrote several church-music guidebooks. He died on September 6, 2005.


12 boxes (6 linear ft.)

4 oversize boxes (2 linear ft.)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged in 6 series: 1. Ralph Woodward papers, 1966-2005. 2. Ralph Woodward thesis, 1964. 3. Ralph Woodward yearbooks and autobiography, 1937-1948. 4. Ralph Woodward photographs and slides, 1959-1994; 5. Ralph Woodward scrapbooks and journals, 1968-1994. and 6. Ralph Woodward awards, 1948-2004.

Custodial History

Donated by Ralph B. (Chip) Woodward in 2006.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated; Ralph B. (Chip) Woodward; 2006.


Noteworthy LDS composer (Section IV. LDS Music Archives Collection Development Policy January 2011).

Processing Information

Processed; Elizabeth West; May 2011.

Register of Ralph Woodward papers
Elizabeth West
2011 May 11
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English in Latin script.

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Repository

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo Utah 84602 United States