Composer Ann Millikan sent us a note yesterday. 

Please let it be known:
The great Quapaw-Cherokee composer Louis Ballard passed just around midnight at his home in Santa Fe, NM.  He was 75.  He was a dear man, and will be missed.


10 Responses to “Louis W. Ballard, 1931-2007”
  1. Joseph Rivers says:

    Louis was a dear friend and a great composer, not to mention a wonderful human being. As a graduate from the University of Tulsa and a student of composer Bela Rozsa many years ago, he has made us proud. But he has simply awed us by how he took his training and his many varied musical and personal experiences and crafted these into a truly magnificent and stellar career. We will all miss him.

    Joseph Rivers
    University of Tulsa School of Music

  2. louis a. ballard says:

    thank you to all for remembering our father so dearly
    pobox 7392 champaign, IL 61826
    louis a. Ballard

  3. International Association of Polyaesthetic Education says:

    A great man goin’ home. Whenever our trails met for singing, dancing, performing, discussing, sharing visions for a better and more peaceful world, we felt enriched. His steady musical contribute to our International Association for Polyaesthetic Education at the University Mozarteum of Salzburg we will thankfully remember. Many of us mourn the irrecoverable loss of a very near friend. Gerhard Hofbauer, president, on behalf of the society.

  4. Isabel Schnabel says:

    Emanuele Arciuli, I will ask you to go on playing Louis’ concertos and I hope you will play the concerto Louis was busy to compose for you playing it.
    It must be a big loss for you too. You knew evrything he wanted how to bring his music.

  5. Isabel Schnabel says:

    To the children and grandchildren of Louis I will speak out my deapest sympathy
    with all the pain for this big loss.
    I wish he will be in thoughts and spirit with you.
    And he lives in all the memories and his music.

    I wish you a lot of strenght to bear this immense loss.

  6. Isabel Schnabel says:

    Louis, my dearest friend, my spirit, is gone to the eternal light.
    Thank you for all I learned from you and for all you gave.
    Have a good fly en be well, where you are now.

  7. I’m very grieved with Louis death.
    I discovered his music years ago, played some of his piano music and, very recently, my essay on his figure was published in italy.
    Currently he was working at a Piano Concerto for me. I met him in Santa Fe, in 2005, and we were in touch very often. His great figure of man, musician, ethnomusicologist, teacher will continue to illuminate my experience in music. thanks a lot, louis!

  8. david toub says:

    Ruth was Jewish and we had many arguments and hours on the phone…

    ???And she wouldn’t have argued had she been Episcopalian???

  9. Growing up within one mile of each other and after study together at Tulsa with Bela Rozsa I saw him again many years later at the Composers Orchestra premiere of his work at Lincoln Center. His old and my new student Jane Lind brought us together after so many years. He was not in my experience a gentle soul but a fierce patriot for Indian music and American Music all over the world. His wife Ruth was an amazing woman, a pianist who was a student of Alicia Delarocha and a magician and the daughter of a America’s oldest magician (at his death) who would come to our apartment and perform for my daughter. Ruth was Jewish and we had many arguments and hours on the phone but she was 100% for Louis and for our music. Louis honored her and expressed his love on many occassions to me for her person and loyalty to him and Indian Art.

    Louis sacrificed for the children, walked into the fields of Wounded Knee to express the story, struggled with the contradictions of traditional and new music in the Indian context and always thought about the importance of the people even when he was dying these last years. During that entire time he always had time to talk and to give his opinion around issues that concerned us both. But he too followed the edict that one would not truly care or value him and the gift if they wasted his time in idle chat.

    He told me a story about bringing Igor Stravinsky to the Deer Dance in New Mexico. He said the great Stravinsky only heard monody “simple melodies” and didn’t “get” the complexity of the art. Telling me the story I was incredulous. Now many years later as I have come to know what Louis was saying, I realize that we all must struggle to hear one another and that even the greatest can be foolish when they presume too much.

    Louis Ballard was a great man and a great American Artist. A gift of the Cherokee Medicine Priest who was his grandfather and his Quapaw parents. He was my Hunka and will be sorely missed.

    May we (sichas) accept our responsibility and turn, as Louis did, to the meanings of the original instructions given to the children by the Creator and embodied in all of the Arts that have passed to us by our ancestors to add to without destroying or taking away from.


    Grant him peace.

    Ray Evans Harrell, Jr.
    The American Masters Arts Festival
    The Magic Circle Opera Repertory Ensemble, Inc.

  10. A Dear Adieu, Lou
    by Brent Michael Davids, 2/12/07

    In Memorial, Louis W. Ballard, 1931-2007

    Once I came through Santa Fe, stopping by Lou’s place, Ruth was there too of course. He immediately said “Do you like tamales?” and I said yeah. And we jumped into his truck to swing by a local vendor for tamales and beer. He was a playful boy in a man’s soul, graced with high intellect and gentle humor. Ruth had started making a meal prior to this, so it was a mischievous thing to do, sail away for tamales on a whim, but very fun. We’ve eaten oysters in Florida, tamales in Santa Fe, fish tacos in Arizona. In Arizona, I introduced Lou to my own mentor Chinary Ung, who became another of his tickled friends, smoking in Chinary’s university office those tiny dark cigars Lou brought with him that look like cigarettes.

    A formidable composer, Lou was a very accomplished pianist as well. He greatly valued the sensibilities of Bartok which shone in his music, but as Lou was quick to point out with a smile, “my music is 100% Louis W. Ballard music.” And it was. He was the first composer to create a wood flute concerto, a large work for orchestra and American Indian flute soloist. It was commissioned and premiered by the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra back in the early 1960s, and it was called “Why the Duck Has A Short Tail.”

    His influences on other composers cannot be measured, but it was great. I first heard of Lou in 1979, writing him a letter and getting back a heartening response. “Keep writing” he encouraged me, and I did. I had only started composing works three years prior, so Lou’s words helped galvanize in me a creative purpose to which I am still riveted some thirty years later. Of his accomplishments, which are well known in many circles, I have the deepest respect for his dedication and clarity of purpose. But it is Lou the man that I cherish most, the one slurping oysters and bringing cheerfulness to those around him in quiet style. With sparkling intellect and gentle humor, Lou was a great friend and mentor, and I will miss him. Thank you Lou. Thank you and a dear adieu.