After more provocative aesthetic considerations, it's back to the more mundane but fascinating questions like who will be America's top composer. The John Adams interview last week touched on this (did I ever mention I greatly enjoy it when living composers talk about other composers?):
Q Reich is over-worrying it?
A Well, I don't want to characterize him as "worrying," but I can say for the record that the way he presents himself in his official biography suggests a preoccupation with his place in history. That's not unusual for artists, of course, but I try not to worry about those "place in history" evaluations, for two reasons. The first is that it inhibits the freedom of your creative thinking. The second is that history has a way of turning the tables in a very rude way. Yesterday's big star is today's forgotten mediocrity. Think of Meyerbeer, or closer to our time, Roy Harris, who was far more famous in the 1930s than Aaron Copland or Charles Ives. Best to stay humble!
I won't compare Harris with Copland or Ives but it occurs to me that I personally, subjectively, non-rationally prefer Harris' Symphony No. 3 to anything by Adams or Reich. Of course, numbers 2 thru 24 are all Adams and Reich (with #25 Lara Downes playing Harris' American Ballads).
Wikipedia has some interesting Harris data:
He received many of America's most prestigious cultural awards, and at the end of his life was proclaimed Honorary Composer Laureate of the State of California.
Harris's sons Shaun and Dan performed with The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, a Los Angeles-based psychedelic rock band of the late 1960s (although Roy Harris did not approve of rock music).