Music: For Everybody Except Composers

Lean, sandy Roy Harris is a composer; he also has to eat. One spring day, he recalls, "it suddenly occurred to me that I was living in a ... civilization where cops and janitors and everyone else got paid for being what they were—everybody except composers ... So I decided never to write again except for a fixed sum of money agreed upon in advance." His policy has brought him a better living in the last 15 years than most U.S. composers outside of Hollywood.

Three months ago, when the prelates of Manhattan's St. Patrick's Cathedral read his statement in the New...

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