The 2015 Kurt Weill Prize for an outstanding book in music theater since 1900 has been awarded to Wonder of Wonders: A Cultural History of Fiddler on the Roof, by Alisa Solomon, published by Metropolitan Books, 2013. This thoroughly researched and compellingly crafted book traces how and why the story of Tevye the milkman, the creation of the great Yiddish writer Sholem Aleichem, was reborn as blockbuster entertainment and a cultural touchstone, not only for Jews and not only in America. Adjudicated by a panel of distinguished scholars, the award carries with it a cash prize of $5,000. The panelists commented, “Every page of Solomon’s prose is an object lesson proving that research skills and engaging expository writing are not mutually exclusive. Wonder of Wonders is the kind of sorely needed book that can both appeal to academic audiences and recruit new readers interested in legitimate theater.”
Garnering wide acclaim, Wonder of Wonders also received the Jewish Journal Book Award, the George Freedley Memorial Award from the Theatre Library Association, and the Barnard Hewitt Award for Outstanding Research in Theatre History honorable mention. Solomon is Professor and Director of the Concentration in Arts M.A. Program at Columbia University School of Journalism.
The $2,000 prize for an article recognized “‘Vindication, Cleansing, Catharsis, Hope’: Interracial Reconciliation and the Dilemmas of Multiculturalism in Kay and Dorr’s Jubilee (1976),” by Emily Abrams Ansari, published in American Music in 2013. The prize panelists noted that Ansari’s work “forces some profound–if at times uncomfortable–questions about art and politics in a difficult decade, and also about just what it might mean to write an ‘American’ opera. Ansari grounds her work deep in the archives, and also supports it with careful critical thinking. This is a truly impressive article that has already made a significant impact on the field.” Ansari is Assistant Professor in Music History at the University of Western Ontario. The article also received an ASCAP Foundation Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Award.
Awarded biennially by the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, the Kurt Weill Prizes recognize distinguished scholarship in music theater since 1900, including opera and dance. Books and articles published in 2013-2014 were eligible for the 2015 prize; nominations were reviewed by a panel of music and theater experts.