John Adams
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/960x540/p01bqrcf.jpg
1947-02-15
https://musicbrainz.org/artist/94f46f90-f220-458d-acd6-5f14c55ab9b2
John Adams

Biography

Born in 1947 in Massachusetts, John Adams is 10 years younger than Steve Reich and Philip Glass, with whom he is often classified as a Minimalist. His success has much to do with an espousal of modality and regular pulse ...

Read more


Biography

Born in 1947 in Massachusetts, John Adams is 10 years younger than Steve Reich and Philip Glass, with whom he is often classified as a Minimalist. His success has much to do with an espousal of modality and regular pulse – musical elements reintroduced by the Minimalists in reaction to much modernist music. Yet Adams’s approach since the late 1970s emphasises two things that early Minimalism is generally said to have rejected. One is direct emotional expression; the other concerns allusions to, and even direct quotations from, other musics. Adams himself has described his development as an alternation between ‘two opposing polarities: along with every dark, introspective, “serious” piece there must come the Trickster, the garish, ironic wild card that threatens to lose me whatever friends the previous composition might have gained’. Thus Harmonium (1981), settings of John Donne and Emily Dickinson, was followed by Grand Pianola Music (1982).

Allusion and quotation played an increasing role in Adams’s output from 1978 – when Shaker Loops drew on the spiritual ecstasy of America’s 18th-century fundamentalist movement – up to the late-1980s works Nixon in China and Fearful Symmetries. Since then, such references have generally been less overt, though the Chamber Symphony (1992) alludes both to Schoenberg’s Chamber Symphony No. 1 and to American cartoons.

With Nixon in China, his first opera (1987), Adams achieved international fame. The director Peter Sellars, librettist Alice Goodman and the choreographer Mark Morris were integral both to this project and to his next opera, The Death of Klinghoffer (1991), based on the 1985 hijacking of a cruise-liner. An event from recent history – the 1994 Los Angeles earthquake – was likewise the starting point for the ‘songplay’ I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky (1995). By contrast, El Niño (2000) is a ‘Nativity oratorio’ featuring film as well as stage action. Adams’s most recent operatic collaborations with Sellars are Doctor Atomic (2005) and A Flowering Tree (2006), both seen in London during the past two years. The Doctor Atomic Symphony, extensively recasting and extending the opera, was premiered at the 2007 BBC Proms. Adams’s works include Son of Chamber Symphony (2007), also choreographed for San Francisco Ballet by Mark Morris, and City Noir (2009).

In 1995 the composer received the Grawemeyer Award for his Violin Concerto. In 2003, the year in which he became Artist-in- Association with the BBC SO, his On the Transmigration of Souls, written for the first anniversary of 9/11, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.

Profile by Keith Potter © BBC

John Adams Audio & Video


John Adams Tracks

Sort by

John Adams
Tromba lontana - fanfare for orchestra
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqrcf.jpg
link
Tromba lontana - fanfare for orchestra
John Adams
Shaker loops vers. for string orchestra
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqrcf.jpg
link
Shaker loops vers. for string orchestra
San Francisco Symphony Chorus
Harmonium for chorus and orchestra
http://static.bbci.co.uk/music_clips/0.1.70/img/track_fallback.png
link
Harmonium for chorus and orchestra
John Adams
Saxophone Concerto
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqrcf.jpg
link
Saxophone Concerto
John Adams
China Gates
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqrcf.jpg
link
China Gates
John Adams
Tromba lontana - fanfare for orchestra
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqrcf.jpg
link
Tromba lontana - fanfare for orchestra
John Adams
Harmonium - i) Negative Love
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqrcf.jpg
link
Harmonium - i) Negative Love
John Adams
I am the wife of Mao Tse-tung (from Nixon in China)
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqrcf.jpg
link
I am the wife of Mao Tse-tung (from Nixon in China)
John Adams
Short Ride in a Fast Machine
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqrcf.jpg
link
Short Ride in a Fast Machine
Michael Collins, John Adams, London Sinfonietta & Markus Stenz
Gnarly Buttons: Extract from Movt 2: Hoedown (Mad Cow)
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqrcf.jpg
link
Gnarly Buttons: Extract from Movt 2: Hoedown (Mad Cow)
John Adams
Short ride in a fast machine for orchestra
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqrcf.jpg
link
Short ride in a fast machine for orchestra
John Adams
The Chairman Dances
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqrcf.jpg
link
The Chairman Dances
John Adams
City noir for orchestra
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqrcf.jpg
link
City noir for orchestra
John Adams
And behold there was a great earthquake from The Gospel according to the Other Mary
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/256x256/p01bqrcf.jpg
link
And behold there was a great earthquake from The Gospel according to the Other Mary
Add music you love and enjoy it
Playlists featuring John Adams
Essential Classics: Guest Choices
Essential Classics: Guest Choices
A Song for Guy
A Song for Guy
BBC Proms 2015: Katie Derham Curates
BBC Proms 2015: Katie Derham Curates
Tom Service Recommends...
Tom Service Recommends...


Past BBC Events

Prom 72: John Adams – Nixon in China Proms 2012
http://www.bbc.co.uk/events/egjfxj
Royal Albert Hall
2012-09-05T19:22:18
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/208x117/p00y82hl.jpg
5
Sep
Prom 72: John Adams – Nixon in China Proms 2012

Prom 72: John Adams – Nixon in China Proms 2012

5 September 2012
Prom 4: Respighi, Ravel and Adams Proms 2012
http://www.bbc.co.uk/events/e5gc8g
Royal Albert Hall
2012-07-16T19:22:18
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/208x117/p00w6yr8.jpg
16
Jul
Prom 4: Respighi, Ravel and Adams Proms 2012

Prom 4: Respighi, Ravel and Adams Proms 2012

16 July 2012
Prom 50 Proms 2007
http://www.bbc.co.uk/events/eh9c8g
Royal Albert Hall
2007-08-21T19:22:18
21
Aug

Prom 50 Proms 2007

21 August 2007
Prom 38 Proms 2006
http://www.bbc.co.uk/events/ewp9rz
Royal Albert Hall
2006-08-11T19:22:18
11
Aug

Prom 38 Proms 2006

11 August 2006
Prom 49 Proms 2004
http://www.bbc.co.uk/events/emwc8g
Royal Albert Hall
2004-08-22T19:22:18
22
Aug

Prom 49 Proms 2004

22 August 2004

Latest John Adams News


John Adams Biography

Born in 1947 in Massachusetts, John Adams is 10 years younger than Steve Reich and Philip Glass, with whom he is often classified as a Minimalist. His success has much to do with an espousal of modality and regular pulse – musical elements reintroduced by the Minimalists in reaction to much modernist music. Yet Adams’s approach since the late 1970s emphasises two things that early Minimalism is generally said to have rejected. One is direct emotional expression; the other concerns allusions to, and even direct quotations from, other musics. Adams himself has described his development as an alternation between ‘two opposing polarities: along with every dark, introspective, “serious” piece there must come the Trickster, the garish, ironic wild card that threatens to lose me whatever friends the previous composition might have gained’. Thus Harmonium (1981), settings of John Donne and Emily Dickinson, was followed by Grand Pianola Music (1982).

Allusion and quotation played an increasing role in Adams’s output from 1978 – when Shaker Loops drew on the spiritual ecstasy of America’s 18th-century fundamentalist movement – up to the late-1980s works Nixon in China and Fearful Symmetries. Since then, such references have generally been less overt, though the Chamber Symphony (1992) alludes both to Schoenberg’s Chamber Symphony No. 1 and to American cartoons.

With Nixon in China, his first opera (1987), Adams achieved international fame. The director Peter Sellars, librettist Alice Goodman and the choreographer Mark Morris were integral both to this project and to his next opera, The Death of Klinghoffer (1991), based on the 1985 hijacking of a cruise-liner. An event from recent history – the 1994 Los Angeles earthquake – was likewise the starting point for the ‘songplay’ I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky (1995). By contrast, El Niño (2000) is a ‘Nativity oratorio’ featuring film as well as stage action. Adams’s most recent operatic collaborations with Sellars are Doctor Atomic (2005) and A Flowering Tree (2006), both seen in London during the past two years. The Doctor Atomic Symphony, extensively recasting and extending the opera, was premiered at the 2007 BBC Proms. Adams’s works include Son of Chamber Symphony (2007), also choreographed for San Francisco Ballet by Mark Morris, and City Noir (2009).

In 1995 the composer received the Grawemeyer Award for his Violin Concerto. In 2003, the year in which he became Artist-in- Association with the BBC SO, his On the Transmigration of Souls, written for the first anniversary of 9/11, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.

Profile by Keith Potter © BBC

Back to artist