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Monday, 24 April 2006


John Belmonte, in New York, asks whether European audiences are influenced by PRIZES as are Americans by such recognitions as the Pulitzer? Is there an 'Oggi-winning play' that affects tix sales in Rome, or a 'Le Monde Prize-winning' musical score?

The entire impact of the Pulitzer Prize would be moot if both journalists and publicists stopped using the lazy phrase 'Pulitzer-Prize winning' to annoint a work or an artist. This continues to allow American audiences of all the arts to have a cultural inferiority complex.

We have to value and evaluate our artists by our own applause, not the tastes of a board of directors laden with their own commercial and political concept of what is deserving. At the same time, it's important to mention the fact that there was a somewhat specious winner in the category won by Yehudi Wyner. His winning composition was based on how Mozart used the cadenza in his piano concerti.

Is it a surprise that this derivative work was chosen in the year that celebrates the birth of Mozart?

Is it a surprise that this was a concept that was embraced and fostered by James Levine, conductor of the Boston Symphony, and BSO Artisitc Adminsitrator Tony Fogg.

Is it a surprise that this work was composed at the American Academy in Rome and has the title 'Chiavi in Mano' based on the use of the phrase in Italian business for ownership-- 'Keys in Hand'?

Yet another example of our cultural inferiority complex!

Finally two major deficits in owning the prize are Leonard Bernstein and William Grant Still.

Everyone has heard of Maestro Bernstein. But Still? He is the dean of African American composers. Considering the dubious value of the prize perhaps both are better off without it.

John Belmonte is a principal in John Belmonte Public Relations & Artist Management.