And The Winner Is(n't) ...

Music by Pulitzer prize winners and runners-up

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Monday, March 07, 2011

[DISCLAIMER] Before you get all worked up about academic elitism and aesthetic biases and the like, know that we don't unequivocally agree with the process for choosing the recipients for the Pulitzer Prize in music, nor do we unequivocally agree on the recipients themselves. We don't unequivocally disagree either. We're just saying that, like the Academy Awards (my favorite movie wasn't even nominated), a survey of winners and nominees for arguably our country's most recognized honor in music presents a single, if narrow but possibly interesting, view of music in America [END]

And -- yes yes, you caught me -- it affords an opportunity to play Mario Davidovsky's 1971 Prize-winning Synchronism no.6 for piano and electronic sound, which whether you accept the value of the Pulitzer Prize or not, is an awesome piece of music.

So we're filling out the week on Hammered! with piano music -- concerto and solo -- by Pulitzer Prize winners and, sometimes more interestingly, Pulitzer runners up (if I had a dollar for every time Steve Reich got second place for this prize, I'd be ... three dollars richer). With so many great options in the last decade or so, most of the music this week is less than 15 years old with the exception of Monday's show, which serves a similar purpose to those Academy Award Show retrospective montages.

So Monday we'll hear some old school Prize-winners: the above mentioned Synchronism no.6 by Davidovsky, the Three-Page Sonata by Charles Ives (who won in 1947 for his Third Symphony), and the remarkable Variations for Piano by a young Aaron Copland (winner in 1945 for, you guessed it, Appalachian Spring). We'll close out the hour with a more recent recipient, 2003 Prize-winner John AdamsCentury Rolls, a piano concerto that was actually a runner up for the Prize in 1998.

We also have works by Charles Wuorinen, Steve Reich, William Bolcolm, Don Byron, Yehudi Wyner, Stephen Hartke, and many more.

Have at it!: What do you think about the Pulitzer Prize, and who most deserves it?

Hosted by:

Conor Hanick
The WQXR e-newsletter. Show highlights, links to music news, on-demand concerts, events from The Greene Space and more.

Comments [1]

Michael Meltzer

I think it's worth discussing whether an awards process that is so healthy for Hollywood or commercial musical theater isn't actually in many ways harmful in classical music, where work and pubic exposure opportunities are far fewer in number than the extremely talented and creative musicians more-than-qualified and in need of them.
Are we not further narrowing a selection process already made too narrow by the economic realities of a musically ignorant ticket-and-CD-buying public? Wouldn't it be an interesting departure if the altruistic award givers made their artistic choices, gave the winners a healthy cash award, but kept the process out of the newspapers?

Mar. 10 2011 08:01 PM

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