Thursday, May 03, 2007


It is amusing to me, dear readers, that so many well-meaning musical citizens get so “huffy mcpuffy” about the Pulitzer Prize being awarded to a non-composer such as Ornette Coleman and his big band orchestra. The Prize itself is only $10,000, and with a required entry fee of $50 and between 100 and 200 applicants in each category, the Pultizer makes almost as much money as it gives away!

Ten thousand dollars is not a lot of money, especially for a tenured professor such as myself. And as for “honor”... well, it remains to be seen if receiving the award gets you prestige, or if being prestigious gets you the award.

Given his gambling addiction (common among jazz “improvisers”), Mr. Coleman has probably already lost the money. The Pulitzer Prize committee has squandered its well-earned entry fees by handing them over to a drunken bum. It should come as no surprise to the committee that a drunken bum who refuses to follow the rules of music composition will certainly not follow the rules of the Pulitzer Prize application process.


Anonymous DJA said...

And as for “honor”... well, it remains to be seen if receiving the award gets you prestige, or if being prestigious gets you the award.

It does?

2:29 PM  
Blogger Van Twee said...

I am outraged that you do not share my outrage at the outrageous awarding of the Pulitzer Prize to boogie-woogie "composer" Ornette Coleman. A jazz musician does not write music, like proper composers; he or she merely makes it up as he or she goes along. Like a bird! Would you support giving the Pulitzer Prize to a bird??

Since the only other finalist was, I understand, the accompaniment to some sort of puppet show, this year's Pulitzer obviously should have been awarded to Augusta Read Thomas, whose 'Hentai Tentacle' was far and away the best new composition of the year.

11:18 AM  
Blogger Prof. Heebie McJeebie said...

Indeed, they might as well have given to Pulitzer Prize to Charlie Parker!

I'm not familiar with Augusta Read Thomas's music, but I think she was very smart to marry an established male composer in order to get her career going.

11:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As for awarding th PP to a jazz musician, when they gave it to Wynton Marsalis for "Blood on the Sands" (have you heard it? OMG!! Is somebody kidding someone?) the horse was out of the barn. A posthumous award to Charlie Parker? I'm all for it. He was_authentic_, as we like to say today.

As for prestige for receiving the award, David Del Tredici left Boston University immediately, and headed for the Big Apple.

1:19 PM  
Blogger Mark Hodges said...

After all, Coleman was literally the shape of jazz to come, so he was ahead of the game. He knew that jazz was headed into a meandering and endless wandering of noodling and doodling. All he did was get there before anyone else, staking his claim, so to speak.

"Making it up as he goes along" - that sentiment does nothing but make my abstract heart smile :)

10:47 AM  

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