The Scrapbook heartily congratulates Weekly Standard friend and sometime contributor Terry Teachout, who was just announced as the recipient of a 2014 Bradley Prize. The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation annually presents up to four awards to “individuals of extraordinary talent and dedication” who share the late brothers’ commitment to “preserving and defending the tradition of free representative government and private enterprise that has enabled the American nation and, in a larger sense, the entire Western world to flourish intellectually and economically.”
Previous recipients include Nobel Prize-winning economist Gary Becker, international reformer Hernando de Soto, and Weekly Standard contributing editor Charles Krauthammer (not to mention our boss, Bill Kristol). Teachout, an astonishingly productive polymath, is well deserving of the honor—and the $250,000 purse it includes. The Wall Street Journal’s drama critic and Commentary’s critic-at-large has published masterful biographies of H. L. Mencken, George Balanchine, Louis Armstrong, and, most recently, Duke Ellington. The former jazz bassist’s first play, Satchmo at the Waldorf, is currently running to acclaim off-Broadway; he’s also written three opera libretti. How he finds time to do all that and maintain his popular blog, About Last Night, is a secret The Scrapbook has yet to uncover.
With the middlebrow culture Americans once shared long gone—Teachout has movingly mourned it in his work—we need critics like him more than ever. He tells The Scrapbook, “It’s especially meaningful to me that I’m the first person to receive a Bradley who specializes in the fine arts. I think that’s at least as important a calling as politics or economics—and one that more people on my side of the fence should embrace.”
Teachout—and the other, yet-to-be-named winners in the prize’s tenth year—will be honored in a ceremony at the Kennedy Center on June 18.