Willie Ruff ’53BM, ’54MM received the Sanford Medal, the School of Music’s highest honor, this past Monday, May 20. Dean Robert Blocker presented the medal at the School’s Commencement ceremonies in Sprague Hall. The award honors Ruff’s contributions to the Yale School of Music and to the field of music.
A musician and scholar of wide-ranging interests and influence, Willie Ruff plays French horn and bass and is an author, lecturer, and educator. After graduating from Yale, he joined Lionel Hampton’s band and soon collaborated with his friend, pianist Dwike Mitchell, to form the Mitchell-Ruff Duo. The duo performed on the bill with major jazz figures, including Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Count Basie, in every major nightclub. In 1959 they introduced jazz to the Soviet Union, playing and teaching in Russian conservatories, and in 1981 they did the same in China. MORE