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kevin white

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I was wondering if anybody could give me a little advice


I was reading a Bela Bartok letter that he sent to an organization that had just gave him an award.


The purpose of the letter that he sent was to correct the errors that the organization made


1. they got the date of the premier the piece wrong

2. why they chose him, incorrectly

3. they should have chosen Zoltan Kodaly

4. he would never accept the award ever, "dead or alive"


My question is, should you accept an award for a piece of music of your own, just for the sake of it being your own work,


or, should you not accept it, because it is not your best work, and recommend someone who deserves it?



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3 hours ago, ilv said:

You should get credited for an excellent composition.



1 hour ago, TJS said:

Well, you could always take it and then at the award ceremony pass it off to the person you believe should have won.  ;)  After all, the judges chose you, but once you have the award you can do what you want with it.  


ilv, that's exactly what I was thinking, but what if there is someone that you think should have the award more than you?

TJS, that doesn't quite clear the fact that you got that award, and it's not their award, and it will still have your name onit


I still don't know what to think of that essay

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You do have a point.  I suppose I was thinking that if you did it at the award ceremony that there would be a write-up about it (if for no other reason than people would be so shocked at what happened) and that would at least get the other composer's name out there, and you could give him/her the award money.  Perhaps you could even convince them to change the name on the award or in their record books.  

I guess it would have to be one of those things that you decide at the time.  If you REALLY feel you don't deserve it, then you can make the principled stance to reject the award.  But I'm sure many people trying to establish their careers might be happy to have the recognition and it would be a hard thing to turn down.  It also happens at times that composers can be too self-critical and might actually be wrong that their piece is not great.  Tchaikovsky was often unhappy with his works which we recognize as masterpieces today, for example, and then you have perfectionists like Brahms who went so far as to destroy entire works that he didn't think were up to his standard (yet I'd be certain they were better works than most other composers living at his time could have done).  

Bartok was a strange and uncompromising man.  Here's another story: early in his career when he wasn't getting a lot of performances, the main orchestra of Budapest played some movements from his First Suite, probably thinking they were doing him a favour, but instead of being thankful, he wrote a letter telling them off because all the movements are thematically linked, so by playing only some of them, they ruined the structure of the piece.  He then proceeded to ask them never to play any of his music again (!).  (Paraphrased from Harold C. Schonberg's Lives of the Great Composers.)  So I am not surprised by point number 4 up above!

Edited by TJS
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