It used to be the Grawemeyer Award, which started at $150,000 and are now pegged at $200,000. It is doled out over several years. The latest winner is Esa-Pekka Salonen.
But, coming up on the outside is the Charles Ives Living Award, which gives a composer $200,000 over two years to finish a commissioned work, during which time he or she must eschew ‘all salaried employment’. (As if there were salaried jobs for composers…)
The winner, announced last night, is James Mattheson of Brooklyn. He is writing a violin concerto for the Chicago Symphony and Los Angeles Philharmonic. The Chicago premiere will be conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen. The pyramid gets quite small at the top.