According to, Joshua Bell has won the Avery Fisher Prize. The $75,000 is awarded at the whim of a committee when it feels an artist deserves it. Past winners include Yo-Yo Ma and Emmanuel Ax, I assume also in the prime of their career at the time of the award.

In the CNN article Joshua Bell says, “I’m a violinist, first and foremost, but I do believe the people who are the most immortal are the composers. The man on the street, he knows who Beethoven is, he knows who Mozart is. And I’d like to compose.” When talking with the Associated Press, he fantacizes about conducting.

He has won two Grammys.

All of this raises several questions:

1. When will large endowements stop awarding loads of money to firmly established, and presumably wealthy artists, in favor of supporting rising stars who work three jobs and have student loans to pay off. (Realizing that, yes, there are organizations that already go that)

2. After all the fame and fortune, why would a super-star violinist want to dive into an isolating career as a composer?

3. To my knowledge only two news outlets have offered this story: CNN and the Washington Post, via the AP. Isn’t that a little strange, that CNN would cover a Classical award?

I hope Joshua Bell turns the dollars around and funds the education and instrument of some needy student.

11 Responses to “Bell wins $75,000”
  1. David Salvage says:

    Whoa. I’m diggin’ your wavelength.

    Seriously, though: I share your sentiments. But why then do I think the Academy Awards are just great? Isn’t Scorsese established enough already without an Oscar?

  2. Daniel says:

    The award doesn’t bother me, it’s the money at this stage in his career. No one likes to be a money-slave, but $75,000 would make a bigger difference (possibly) in the life of a young performer/composer, than a millionaire (quite possibly) megastar.

  3. Paul H. Muller says:

    Yes, but does the man in the street know who Terry Riley is? Or Morton Feldman? Or is Mr. Bell going to give us the latest word in music from two centuries ago?

    Sorry for the outburst. Anytime a musician pulls down some serious money, its a good thing. Congratulations to Mr. Bell and here’s hoping he produces a work worthy of his ambition.

  4. KenMarshall says:

    Thanks for helping

  5. [...] (P.S. I wouldn’t feel too bad about it. He recently won  75 K that goes along with the Avery Fisher Prize.) [...]

  6. andrea says:

    (Realizing that, yes, there are organizations that already go that)

    do tell!!!

  7. john williams says:

    This does kind of suck, yes? For all the reasons posted above.

  8. Chris Sahar says:

    Well, if Bell is very wealthy, then let’s hope he will donate the 75,000 to some organization which supports aspiring artists. A good one is Fractured Atlas.

    I hope Bell is not seeking immortality from composing! In
    500 years, how many composers will be remembered from the period of 1800 – 1900. If we look at the period of 1450 – 1550 and ask someone on the street to name a composer from that time, you will be lucky if 1 in 50 say Palestrina (and in this case they would be partially correct as he was born in 1525).

    You know how you become (sort of) immor(t)al? Aspire to being Ghenghis Khan, Caligula or some other fearsome despot!

  9. The Avery Fisher Career Grants don’t seem to have been announced yet, but apparently they’re related and will be given at the same time. Last year four individuals and a quarter won the $25,000 awards:

    I appreciate what you’re saying about large monetary awards going to people who are already rich, but you have to understand that the giving of these awards is a PR move. You give the award to famous people, thereby making them more famous, and then you get to be associated with them and be known for recognizing the greatness of people who are seen as great. It’s practically inevitable that things end up this way, but at least the Avery Fisher awards combine the big PR award with the still-substantial awards for younger less established artists.

  10. Ever since recording, you don’t need to be a composer to be ‘immortal’ in music – in fact, it has become a bit of a liability.

  11. Cary Boyce says:

    Josh is a stellar violinist who goes out of his way to commission new works, chart new territories for his instrument, and find new paths for himself as a very individual artist.

    And an award has to have a substantial cash value to be taken seriously. At least he can make a payment on the fiddle, which probably cost him upwards of $3 million. At least it’s owned by a musician and not an investor.

    I also know Joshua Bell to be generous with his time and his kindness. When the time comes to give something back (everything he has is well deserved), then I anticipate his generosity to be there when and where it counts. The Avery Fisher Prize and the publicity it generates are well deserved. Other, more “valuable” prizes have gone to others far less worthy that have virtually disappeared from the musical landscape.