Wednesday, April 29, 2015

More on the Pulitzers

I tweeted my last post, the one about the Pulitzer Prize and the graphs that someone anonymous posted elsewhere on the web. Joshua Kosman was politely skeptical about the value of the data, noting the small data set of 20. Well, there's only one winner annually, so....

So I dug up a file sent to me a few years ago, a file containing the jurors from 1943 to 2007, and I started making up a spreadsheet. It isn't quite complete, but as of today, the spreadsheet shows the winning work and composer and the jurors for each year. I've also indicated which composers serving on a jury are also Pulitzer winners.

A few things stand out, assuming I've gotten everything right.
  • Chalmers Clifton served on every jury from 1943 to 1960. The Word doc I have claims that he was the only juror in 1947. I hope that is a mistake in the Word file, even though the Pulitzer went to Ives's third symphony. (Who was Clifton? A composer. Has anyone reading this heard any of his music? If so, what is it like?)
  • Robert Ward served on 16 (!) juries between 1954 and 2004 (!).
  • Because there are so many repeat jurors, only 106 jurors have served in the 73 years since music was added to the Pulitzers.
  • The first woman to serve was Miriam Gideon in 1975. Since then, Ellen Taafe Zwilich, Vivan Fine, Joan Tower, Melinda Wagner, Shulamit Ran, Ingrid Monson, Maria Schneider, Anne Midgette, Jennifer Higdon, Carol Oja, Caroline Shaw, and Julia Wolfe have served. That's 13 of 106 jurors.
  • I haven't put in affiliations yet, but it sure does look as thought a large majority of the jurors have been based on the East the extent that West Coasters such as Martin Bernheimer, Mark Swed, and Olly Wilson stand out.
  • You could say that a few composers didn't get the award for their best works. John (Coolidge) Adams for On the Transmigration of Souls? Well, would you expect him to have won for Nixon in China, given the amount of derision when it was new?
  • It'd be mighty interesting to do a reception history of each of these works. Which had legs? When did you last hear a symphonic work by Hanson or Piston programmed? (Not that I wouldn't like to hear them, but...)
  • And of course it's rather interesting who isn't on the list at all, though again, I would not have expected Einstein on the Beach, one of the greatest theatrical works of the postwar era, to have received the Pulitzer in the year it was eligible. 
  • No prize was awarded in three different years. I will note that Satyagraha debuted in one of those years. Hindsight, I know, but I do have to wonder how much the jurors got out in those three years.
  • A few composers won more than one Pulitzer, if I'm remembering this correctly: Walter Piston, Elliott Carter, Gian-Carlo Menotti, and Samuel Barber. Anyone else?
Oh, yeah, the spreadsheet is here, and it's world-readable. Have fun - I'm sure this stuff would be even more interesting presented graphically.

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