If there’s anything I remember about being a grad student, it’s what a ruthless and unobstructed view one has of the world. You are not yet complicit in its ubiquitous ills, you are not yet bought off by its bribes, you have made no moral compromises, and your judgments are made with a relentlessly clear eye. In the intervening decades I have learned to make admissions of self-interest and allowances for human frailty and differences of taste, but I do not at all feel more right today than I was then. A certain amount of willful blindness has proved necessary for survival.
After my Ives lecture the other day, a grad student composer came up and plaintively asked, “Does anybody really get excited about the music of all the composers who are getting a lot of attention these days?” Many will be quick to suggest a counter-example here and there, but that a well-informed student could ask such a question speaks volumes about the extent to which our institutions have reduced a great art form to a mere profession.