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Name ________________________

Reflecting on a Prize
Directions: The Pulitzer for Music is one of the most prestigious prizes a musical composition can
receive. Only one prize is awarded a year, along with a cash prize of $15,000. In some years, however,
there was not a recipient for the award. In this assignment, we will reflect on this year’s prize recipient,
think about it means, and discuss our thoughts on it.

1. Kendrick Lamar’s fourth studio album (for the sake of this assignment, we will refer to this
album as “D”) was the recipient of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Music; it was the first rap album
that has ever won this award. In fact, there has only been three times in the past 52 years where
the winner was not a classical composition. Do you think this is a significant event? Explain why
or why not.

2. Lamar winning this prize has received both positive and negative reactions. Why do you think
this is?

3. The requirement for a Pulitzer Prize for Music recipient is that it is “a distinguished musical
composition by an American that has had its first performance or recording in the United States
during the year.” Do you think that “D” is worthy of this? Why or why not?
4. There has been criticism for the Pulitzer Prize from recipients over the years. Because of this
criticism, the criteria changed in 2004 to allow a broader range of entries. Read the following
quotes, and then respond to the question.

“If you write music long enough, sooner or later, someone is going to take pity on you and give you
the (award). It is not always the award for the best piece of the year; it has gone to whoever hasn’t
gotten it before.” – Donald Martino, Pulitzer Recipient of 1974

“These seven men have determined who wins the big prizes in American music for the last two
decades. They have made sure that Downtown composers never win.” Kyle Gann, composer and
music critic

“Most of the country’s greatest musical minds have been ignored in favor of academic music.” –
John Adams, Pulitzer Recipient of 2003

“This is a long overdue sea change in the whole attitude as to what can be considered for the prize.
It is an opening up to different styles and not at all to different levels of quality.” Gunther Schuller,
Pulitzer Recipient of 2004, and a judge for the prize.

It is a “horrible development.” “If you were to impose a comparable standard on fiction you would
be soliciting entries from the authors of airport novels.” – John Harbison, Pulitzer Recipient of 1987,
and a judge for the prize.

Consider the thoughts of past winners and judges for the prize, as well as one music critic. Do you
think the change in criteria for the award was good? Explain your answer.