Monday, September 14, 2009

Henry Kravis, Patron of the Arts

The NY Times reports that billionaire Henry Kravis has donated $10 million to fund the New York Philharmonic's composer-in-residence program; the donation stipulates that the composer-in-residence will compose a piece for the Phil. In addition, there's money for a cool $250,000 grant in alternate years "to a working composer."
Watch this carefully: will the NYPO get important pieces with legs for their money? Will the composers-in-residence be big names? Will the grants go to the already-established or to younger or less-known composers?


Anonymous said...

$250,000 for one composer is completely out of proportion. It would be much better if divided by five or ten and given to as many composers, leading to that many new pieces.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Here's what the NYPO press release says about the $250,000 prize: "The Kravis gift will also fund the creation of The Marie-Josée Kravis Prize for New Music at the New York Philharmonic, to be awarded to a composer for extraordinary artistic endeavor in the field of new music. The Kravis Prize will consist of an award of $250,000, among the largest of any prize for new music, and a commission from the New York Philharmonic. The grant will be bestowed every two years, beginning with the 2011–12 season. Additional attributes of the award will be announced at a later date."

I'm of two minds about it. On one hand, yes, you're right. On the other, that probably is what a major composer can get for a commission that might take two years to fulfill, for a major orchestral piece. The Kravises have already commissioned several important pieces: Hartke's Third Symphony, Lieberson's The World in Flower, and Salonen's piano concerto.