Melinda Wagner, gave a talk about her music and creative process at the Timucua White House (2000 South Summerlin Avenue, Orlando). She won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for music. Her laptop was open so she could play her compositions for us. Besides composing music she is also a house wife in New Jersey. The other house wives don't really understand what she does. When Melinda explained to one woman that she was a composer, the woman responded, "I thought all the composers were dead."
Melinda explained that anytime she starts a composition, there is a period of angst and worry where the music is in absolute chaos. Then the piece reaches a stage where she realized it is all going to fall into place. Then she can relax and enjoy the process. When she played her music for us, she closed her eyes and listened. She explained that an artist's roll is to take risks for the sake of beauty. She is listening and looking for a piece with heart. As she said, "Music offers composers an immeasurably rich and
generous sonic landscape in which to explore the 'life story' of each
musical idea — its dramas, intrigues, joys and sorrows — a life. I
strive to find various and persuasive ways of moving through the
resulting temporal narrative, and to traverse a wide spectrum of
expression and color on the way. Ultimately, I want listeners to know me; I want them to hear that while I enjoy the cerebral exercise, I am led principally by my ear, and by my heart.”