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21 February 2009

Comments

Matthew
1.

Really, I'm just astonished I myself didn't get it. My pianism has sold "Hansel and Gretel" to unruly schoolchildren! On more than one occasion!

Seriously, methinks the attempt at overcompensation in monetary awards in the classical music world—with rather equivocal practical results—is an interesting case study. (My sense is that the Pulitzer still carries more weight than the Grawemeyer, for instance, in spite of the latter's 2000% advantage in filthy lucre.) In the opera world, I think the Marilyn Horne foundation has a pretty good balance of celebrity vs. getting money to early-career singers who can actually use it. But my sense is that the jazz world, with a few exceptions, more sensibly—if not totally—orients its awards towards people for whom it makes a difference at crucial, early points in one's career.

Still holding out for those MacArthur "Fucking Genius" grants, by the way.

DJA
2.

But my sense is that the jazz world, with a few exceptions, more sensibly—if not totally—orients its awards towards people for whom it makes a difference at crucial, early points in one's career.

You are assuming that the jazz world has any significant awards of its own to speak of. There's the Monk Competition at one end (award is $20,000 and a mixed-blessing record deal, must be under 30) and the NEA Jazz Masters award at the other (award is $25,000, must be legendary and in your twilight years) and, well, that's about it.

James
3.

Yeah---I can't believe I got beat out by Snooky Young again!

JEP
4.

"Or is this better understood as an attempt by the Birgit Nilsson Foundation and its board to make a bit of a splash by handing out double the MacArthur coin?"

And what if it is? Why is this bad? The Birgit Nilsson Foundation must be fairly new (little information about it is available). The MacArthur Foundation began in 1978. John MacArthur was worth over ONE BILLION dollars at the time of his death and left the vast majority of his money to the foundation. I doubt Nilsson was worth anywhere near this. The MacArthur Foundations "genius grants" are but a small part of an overall far-reaching global initiative. Nillson's "philanthropy" is small in scope and can be seen, perhaps, as more an act by a wealthy person to support her favorite cause. The charitable equivalent of eating at Babbo or Tribeca Grill perhaps. More of a "seen-and-be-seen" award... one last act of (however well-intentioned) ego.

To your point on what good this does for classical music... as much as lesser known artists might disagree, we need those famous names, even if their work is not as relevant as it once was. The arts function on a trickle down economy as everything else does. Names like Placido Domingo, Al Pacino, and Wynton Marsalis draw interest to fields that it wouldn't otherwise have and, as the saying goes, any publicity is good publicity. Their receiving of some of these "prizes" is the price we pay for that attention.

DJA
5.

"The arts function on a trickle down economy as everything else does."

I will grant you that trickle-down arts funding makes about as much sense as trickle-down economics.

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