Blood on the Fields is a three-and-a-half-hour jazz oratorio, by Wynton Marsalis. It was commissioned by Lincoln Center and concerns a couple moving from slavery to freedom.
It received the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for Music. However, Marsalis's victory was controversial because according to the Pulitzer guidelines, his work was not eligible. Although a winning work was supposed to have had its first performance during that year, Marsalis' piece premiered on April 1, 1994 and its recording, released on Columbia Records, was dated 1995. Yet, the piece won the 1997 prize. Marsalis' management had submitted a "revised version" of "Blood on the Fields" which was "premiered" at Yale University after the composer made seven small changes. When asked what would make a revised work eligible, the chairman of that year's music jury, Robert Ward, said: "Not a cut here and there...or a slight revision," but rather something that changed "the whole conception of the piece." After being read the list of revisions that were made to the piece, Ward acknowledged that the minor changes should not have qualified it as eligible, but he said that "the list you had here was not available to us, and we did not discuss it."