Friday, April 08, 2005
For anyone who "wins" a Pulitzer in music, that's great. I don't want to diminish it. However, the real prize should be in writing the music itself. Just as Feynman couldn't have cared less about his Nobel in physics (indeed, he gave serious thought to refusing it in the first place) since the real "kick" came from the physics, not the prize.
I'm not familiar, personally, with Stephen Stucky's music, so I can't have any feeling one way or the other about his being awarded the prize. I'll assume it was well deserved. But I do have a sense that in many cases, the Pulitzer prize in music is often awarded either to "safe" composers who are not doing anything particularly interesting, or else to great composers for "safe" examples of their work. Ives won his Pulitzer for his third symphony, which in many people's opinion is a pretty innocuous piece, certainly not as deserving as many of his other works. Where is the Pulitzer prize for Steve Reich? Philip Glass? Morton Feldman? John Cage?
So again, no disrespect intended. And no slight intended towards those who really do want to enter competitions and win. Recognition by one's peers, and listeners, can be quite meaningful, and if that's what some prizes are about, then that is very good. But I can't get that excited about a prize for music or most anything else awarded by a committee. I've known several Nobel laureates and none of them were that interested in having won the prize; it gave them pleasure to be recognized by colleagues, but other than that it was of little consequence. I don't enter contests in general, and certainly not for composition, since the real pleasure is in the music itself.