Leslie Bassett: You’d have thought they’d perform a Pulitzer-winning piece…main
From Bruce Duffie’s interview with the late composer Leslie Bassett, who died yesterday:
Bruce Duffie: First, let me ask you about winning the Pulitzer Prize. Has that had any great lasting effect on you or your composing?
Leslie Bassett: It brought me a better salary at the University of Michigan, which is nice, but it didn’t bring as many performances of theVariations itself as you would have thought. You would have assumed that the orchestra piece that wins the Pulitzer Prize then would be used. In fact, my publisher did send the score around to a lot of orchestras somewhat later, because it wasn’t published right then. But it hasn’t had as many performances as you would have expected, and I found that disappointing. I talked with Michael Colgrass not too long ago, and he was complaining also that his Pulitzer Prize orchestra piece had not been played a second time, or at least not more than once, until it was done by Louisiana State University when he was there as guest composer two or three years ago. And he found this strange, a piece which presumably is considered good isn’t immediately grabbed by orchestras. I think there’s a certain amount of promotional things that have to be done, and if you have agents and publishers who are very aggressive in this regard and feel they can invest throwing away most of the scores, then I think maybe there’s some chance of it. But it’s a very touchy business. But it has made a lot of difference, in fact, because when you go to a town and you’re discussed, or comments are made by local newspapers, they all know it’s the Pulitzer Prize, so they give it coverage.
BD: How difficult is it to get second performances of anything, Pulitzer Prize or no?
LB: It depends, I suppose, on an awful lot of things. Young composers have an awful lot of trouble getting second performances if they don’t have a national name and if their piece was performed well by, let’s say, a good community orchestra or one of the minor major orchestras. It’s very hard to get a second performance. There are a lot of composers in the United States.
Read more here.