Ralph George Laycock

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Ralph Laycock made many contributions to the College of Fine Arts and Communications, and is one of the people honored and remembered by the Laycock Center for Creative Collaboration in the Arts. Dr. Laycock strove for excellence and was a hard-working man of integrity.

Early Life

Dr. Laycock was born on February 11, 1920 in Raymond, Alberta, Canada. From a young age he cultivated his love for music, learning to play clarinet, saxophone, and trumpet from his father, later organizing his first dance band at age 12. During World War II, he served in the Royal Canadian Air Force Concert Band as a musician and bandmaster, further cultivating his talents.


Dr. Laycock graduated from BYU in 1942 with a bachelor's degree in music. While at BYU, Laycock was in the University's Symphony Orchestra under conductor Leroy J. Robertson and the Concert Band under conductor Robert Sauer.

He then attended the Institute of Musical Art, Julliard's predecessor institution, and received a master’s degree in orchestral conducting in June of 1948. His major teachers there were Arthur Christmann (clarinet), Thor Johnson (Orchestral Conducting) and Edgar Schenkman (Orchestral Conducting). While attending the Institute, he was the assistant teacher to Christmann in his wind ensemble classes, and the assistant teacher to Richard Franko Goldman in wind ensemble groups.

He completed his doctorate in Musical Performance (Conducting) at the University of Southern California in 1969.


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Following the completion of his masters, Dr. Laycock returned to Utah where he performed with the Utah Symphony for a season, creating his reputation as a skilled and versatile performer. He then left Utah to teach woodwinds at Drake University.

Dr. Laycock once again returned to Utah in 1953 when he was appointed as director of bands at BYU. He served in that position until 1966 when he became the director of orchestras, a position which he occupied until 1985. During his tenure at BYU Laycock conducted the BYU Wind Symphony, Philharmonic Orchestra, and Chamber Orchestra, touring with his students throughout the United States, Canada, and China.

The BYU bands, under his direction, appeared by invitation at two national music conventions, MENC, and CBDNA.

An audio tape of the BYU Philharmonic concert, Spring, 1978, was selected for a nation-wide broadcast by National Public Radio, one of thirteen chosen from the entire United States for a limited series of broadcasts. Dr. Laycock frequently adjudicated musical groups at state festivals and guest conducted All-State orchestras and bands in the western states and Hawaii.

Dr. Laycock was involved in several landmark projects personally, while at BYU, which also greatly benefited the school. He had the opportunity to arrange music for the Oakland Temple Pageant, the Martin Harris Pageant. Laycock also created the concept for the simplified hymn book and did many of the arrangements contained in the first edition. He also was able to travel with his band and orchestra students as they toured the United States, Canada and China. Laycock is credited with composing longtime university fight song, "Fight You Cougars."

He was a music consultant at many high schools and junior high schools, conducting workshops and clinics. For several years, Dr. Laycock wrote a conducting column for the magazine The Instrumentalist.

Dr. Laycock conducted the Utah Valley Symphony for twelve seasons, concerts in the park with Provo Municipal Band for twenty-three seasons, and directed numerous Broadway musicals, operas, oratorios, ballets, and Messiah sing-ins.

His self-discipline and passion for music left a lasting impact on many of his students, including K. Newell Dayley, who later served as Dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communications.

Awards and Recognition

In 1951 Dr. Laycock was elected to the honorary performers fraternity Phi Kappa Lambda. In 1971, he was chosen by BYU to give the Annual Distinguished Faculty Lecture using the Philharmonic Orchestra in a lecture/demonstration of the subject, "Conductors - Who Needs Them? and Why?" He repeated the presentation, slightly modified as a BYU forum address in 1973. In 1971 he received the BYU Master Teacher Award, and was named the BYU Professor of the year in 1985. In 1984 the Utah Music Educators Association presented Dr. Laycock with the "Outstanding Music Educator" award. And in 1985 the UMEA Organization presented him with another award that read, "Dr. Laycock - for Outstanding Service to Music in the State of Utah. UMEA, 1985."

In 2011 Dr. Laycock was inducted into the UMEA Hall of Fame posthumously for his prominent and significant contributions to the world of music.

Personal and Family Life

Dr. Laycock married Lucy Tanner in the Logan temple in 1942. Together they raised five daughters.

In 2006 Dr. Laycock was diagnosed with Leukemia. He passed away in April 2006 at the age of 86 in Provo, Utah.

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