Sunday, December 29, 2013

Cash Prizes for Composers!

A while back I put up a post talking about the economics of the music business--actually I have put up several, but this one talked about how the best fee I was offered in my career as a middle-rank classical guitar soloist was a very paltry amount. I was just perusing some composer competitions and I am astounded to learn that, even now, the amounts offered as prizes in typical composer competitions are, well, absurdly paltry! Not wanting to point fingers at people who are no doubt devoting time and effort to put on these competitions, but how could you possibly think that $500 USD is a suitable prize? Another prize was the generous amount of $1000 USD. And you may get some travel expenses, too.

Unless you were a musical idiot savant, i.e. simply incapable of any other skill whatsoever, wouldn't you want to go into absolutely any other field than music composition? Except for the always-important boredom factor, why not be a used-car salesman or, perhaps, work in the expanding fast-food service industry. It pays much better!!

Being a composer is sort of like being a Franciscan or Dominican monk, without the dental plan.

But at least celibacy is not a requirement...

Suitable music? Hmmmm. Here is Kovács Szilárd playing his organ transcription of the music of the Angel-Musicians from Olivier Messiaen's opera St. Francis of Assisi:


Rickard said...

Pretty ridiculously bad prizes. Pop artists bathe in money although they compose very bad music (if at all, someone often does the work for them, they just sing) while classical composers recieve far less for composing much better music.
I don't know, maybe the prizes were better in the past. The Swedish composer Kurt Atterberg won a prize of 10000 dollars in 1928 for his 6th Symphony, today it would mean 132463.78 dollars (see: Now that's a much better prize.

Bryan Townsend said...

I was just looking at some small competitions. There is the Pulitzer Prize in Music, which is $10,000, but that might be about the top. Unless there are some really generous European prizes like the one you mention?