This year's recipients also included science fiction writer Ray Bradbury, wildlife artist John Ruthven, and architectural historian Vincent Scully. Sculptor Frederick Hart, who died in 1999, and poet Anthony Hecht, who died last month, were also honored, as was the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Floyd first came to prominence when his opera Susannah, based on the biblical story of Susannah and the Elders, was staged at New York City Opera in 1956. The opera has since been produced more than 800 times. His adaptation of John Steinbeck's novel Of Mice and Men (1970) is also performed frequently. His most recent operatic work was Cold Sassy Tree, a setting of the novel by Olive Anne Burns, which debuted at Houston Grand Opera in 2000.
Tharp, a onetime dancer with the Paul Taylor Dance Company, has choreographed for her own modern dance companies, for the American Ballet Theatre and other ballet groups, and for film and the stage over a prolific 30-year career. In 2002, she created Movin' Out, a hit Broadway musical set to songs by Billy Joel. Among her frequently performed works are Deuce Coupe (1973), Push Comes to Shove (1975), and Nine Sinatra Songs (1987).