Important objections by George Walker

Dear George,'

Let's agree to disagree: having spent a lot of time at Columbia, I know all about the award and how it is chosen. I am talking about the RESULTS. I am making a global cultural statement. End of argumenht.

Dear Sir:

Your web page on the Pulitzer Prize In Music is unfortunately based on a lack of basic information about this award.

The Pulitzer Prize is first of all a competition. It is not a lifetime award for musical achievement. (The few "Citations" given suggest an acknowledgment of accomplishment over a significant period of time.) Secondly, as a competition, a work must be submitted that has been premiered within a calendar year. The submissions must be complete with application fee and documentation. There can be more than 100 works composed in any medium submitted for the Pulitzer Prize in any year. Without a fully documented submission no work or composer is eligible for the award.

To complain that certain works should have been awarded the prize betrays a certain ignorance about the conditions governing the selection of a winning work. From the pool of submissions it is obvious that poor choices may have been made by the jury. But, the final stamp of approval is not even made by the jury. To request the nomination of works for the Pulitzer Prize by persons who are completely unaware of these fundamental requirements is nonsensical.

It was surprising for me to read the flattering comment about my Cello Sonata and Piano Sonata No. 1. The comment attributable to the chairman of the Pulitzer Prize jury about the selection of Lilacs for Voice and Orchestra in 1996 is more apt, however, than your remark about the conservative taste of the board. Richard Wernick, chairman of the jury, described this score as "rigorous" and remarked that the music continued to make an impression upon repeated listening. Even a highly qualified musician would fail to discern the intricacies of this atonal music without being able to adequately read the score. In the medium of works for solo voice and orchestra it makes song cycles by Berlioz, Strauss and Barber pale by comparison.


George Walker

Posted: June 5, 2008