The 2009 Kurt Weill Prize for outstanding scholarship on music theater since 1900, carrying a cash prize of $10,000, has been awarded to Joshua Goldstein, Assistant Professor of Chinese History, University of Southern California, for his book Drama Kings: Players and Publics in the Re-creation of Peking Opera 1870-1937 (University of California Press, 2007). In this colorful and detailed history, Goldstein describes the formation of the Peking opera in the late Qing era and explores the cultural, social, and political forces that shaped its subsequent rise and “re-creation” as the epitome of Chinese national culture in Republican-era China. Within this context, he presents a fascinating look into the lives of some of the opera’s key celebrities–in particular, the male cross-dressing performers, or “drama kings” of the title. The Prize panel lauded Goldstein’s methodology for its breadth and detail, and praised the high quality of his scholarship and writing.
In addition to the book prize, a $2,000 Kurt Weill Prize for outstanding article has been awarded to Christopher Reynolds, Professor of Musicology, University of California, Davis, for his article, “Porgy and Bess: ‘An American Wozzeck'” (Journal of the Society for American Music, Volume 1, Number 1, 2007). In the article, for which he also won an H. Colin Slim Award from the American Musicological Society, Reynolds argues that structural elements of George Gershwin’s score for Porgy and Bess pay homage to Alban Berg’s Wozzeck, and presents significant new evidence to support his theory.
Awarded biennially by the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, the Kurt Weill Prize recognizes distinguished scholarship on music theater since 1900. Books and articles published in 2007-2008 were eligible for the 2009 prize; nominations were reviewed by a panel of music and theater experts.