Music: Prince of Angels

In a day when governments (but not the U.S.) and philanthropic foundations have all but taken over the art-patron business, Manhattan's Lincoln Kirstein, 45, is a pillar of individualism. In the past 20 years he has spent close to half a million dollars of his own money to commission and produce new music and ballets, chiefly for the vigorous New York City Ballet and its forerunners. To Patron Kirstein last week came a fittingly symbolic award: $500 and a citation from Manhattan's Capezio Inc., the U.S.'s largest makers of ballet slippers, "for distinguished service to American Dance."

Kirstein hardly needed the money,...