Former Yale Student

 

Throughout my college years, Ben Ward was a towering presence.  Playing chamber music with him (Brahms B Major Trio, Brahms F minor Quintet, Messiaen Quartet for the End of Time, Shostakovich Trio (these last two with Jonathan Levi, see above)) was like having composer, teacher, parent and best friend all in the same room.  His touch—he could pound and he could caress, always perfectly—was exquisite.  Although he was a Dean and we were students, there was no hierarchy, only friendship and love.  We went to him for everything—music advice, school advice, waivers of exam deadlines (called “Dean’s Excuses”), boyfriend-girlfriend advice.  When my brother could not attend my wedding, Ben was my best man, handing me the ring that started 30 years of a marriage still blessed by his presence.  Fiercely disciplined but gentle, a genius but tolerant, Ben Ward made one believe in miracles—because he was one.

-Scott Hempling