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Pulitzer Board to Consider Improvised Music

The governing board of the Pulitzer Prizes in journalism and the arts announced a broadening of the award in the music category so that it will now include works containing elements of jazz improvisation and musical theater and film scores, according to an article in Tuesday’s New York Times. The announcement is being received with mixed responses, evoking praise from many musicians, but provoking criticism from more traditional composers.

The current definition of what constitutes a “distinguished musical composition of significant dimension by an American that has had its first performance in the United States during the year,” is being revised to reflect “a broad view of serious music,” according to an announcement by the board. The new language of the definition will drop the words “of significant dimension,” and will include the alternative of “recording” in addition to “performance.” The guidelines now “strongly urge” the submission of a score instead of requiring one, in hopes of making improvisational work admissible. The Pulitzer Prize jury, which has formerly been made up of composers and one critic, will now include an additional conductor, performer or presenter.

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