I adore NewMusicBox. These folks do great stuff:
In fact, I oftern try to add something to the discussion. To wit:
You raise a delightful topic (as per usual). Not to overly simply things, to me it is "does the end justify the means?" The basic question arises, though, is the thought of being revolutionary the genius or when it is revised, the end product make the piece revolutionary? And how about the compositional journey that the composer comes to to get there. Verklarte Nacht is still a masterpiece even though later Schoenberg wrote his Piano Pieces, Opus 11 - and if he would have revised either, would that change them in your eyes?
Then there are all the ancedotes about Brahms changing a note here and there, very slowly, and it is well crafted. Does the end (of The Rite of Spring) justify the means? By the way, I think we should start planning now for the 100th anniversary of the Rite, with an "original instruments" performance - authentic with a crowd yelling and riot, recorded digitally!!!
Anyway, back to the topic, if a composer "admits" to the later revision, doesn't the cloud of revolution disapate?
I've had an interesting conversation with Alvin Singleton about composers basically working on a single piece their entire career, always trying to find "that" solution...
I finally met Frank Oteri this last February at a radio conference...and hope to knock around ideas again as I make my way to Manhattan much more frequently.
PS-Be sure and look at their "Ask the internet" discussion, I haven't laughed so hard at a graphic in years!