Faculty - Hero - Ward
  1. Faculty

Robert Ward


"Ward, meanwhile, gave what may be the finest performance I've ever heard from him — stately and insinuating in the Prologue and Epilogue, urgent in the Tennyson song, casually nimble in the Jonson, and impeccably tuned throughout. The horn can be a recalcitrant, unpredictable beast, and on Thursday, Ward was its genial master." —San Francisco Chronicle


  • Applied Lessons
  • Horn Class


  • BM, Oberlin College and Conservatory of Music


  • San Francisco Symphony, Principal, 1980–Present


  • Principal, San Francisco Symphony

What is your hometown?

Schenectady, NY

What are you passionate about outside of music?

Genealogy and creative writing.

Who were your major teachers?

Robert Fries and Dale Clevenger.

What is a favorite quote that you repeatedly tell students?

“You must have high standards and a short memory.”

What was a turning point in your career?

Tanglewood, 1977.

If you weren't a musician or teacher, what do you think you would be doing now?


What is your daily practice routine?

Depends on what's in my folder.

From a music history perspective, what year and city are most important to you?

Paris, early twentieth century.

Who are three students you have had the privilege of teaching?

Darby Hinshaw, Caitlyn Smith, and Alex Rosenfeld.

What recordings can we hear you on?

The Mahler Project, SFS Media


Robert Ward has been a part of the Bay Area classical music scene since he joined the San Francisco Symphony in 1980, playing the inaugural concerts at Davies Symphony Hall. Since September 2007 he has held the position of Principal Horn, and can be heard on many of the San Francisco Symphony's CDs, most recently playing solo horn in the complete Mahler Symphony cycle, as well as the San Francisco Symphony's Emmy-winning television production of "Sweeney Todd” and Metallica’s multi-platinum album S&M. He has appeared at the Grand Teton Music Festival, the Peninsula Music Festival, the Colorado Music Festival, and at the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood, and is a  founding member of the The Bay Brass, for which he has arranged and composed extensively. His Quartet for Horns was given its premiere at the International Horn Society Conference in Eugene, Oregon in 1996, and his "Sound of the Sea" and "And All the Sea Sang" for chorus and solo horn have been performed with the San Francisco Choral Artists. When not performing, he also writes fiction and has completed 3 novels, which will someday be published if the stars align correctly. A native of Schenectady, NY, he received his Bachelor of Music degree from the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music in 1977.