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Short Biography:
Composer, conductor, and creative thinker—John Adams occupies a unique position in the world of American music. His works stand out among contemporary classical compositions for their depth of expression, brilliance of sound, and the profoundly humanist nature of their themes.

Among Adams’s works are several of the most performed contemporary classical pieces today: Harmonielehre, Shaker Loops, Chamber Symphony, Doctor Atomic Symphony, Short Ride in a Fast Machine, and his Violin Concerto. His stage works, in collaboration with director Peter Sellars, include Nixon in China, The Death of Klinghoffer, El Niño, Doctor Atomic, A Flowering Tree, and the Passion oratorio The Gospel According to the Other Mary. Adams’s most recent opera, Girls of the Golden West, set during the 1850s California Gold Rush, was premiered by the San Francisco Opera in 2017.

Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes?, written for piano soloist Yuja Wang, the LA Phil, and Gustavo Dudamel, premiered in 2019 and continues to tour this season, with performances Edinburgh, London, New York City, Paris, Amsterdam, St. Louis, and Seattle. The season also sees the world premiere of Adams’s new orchestral work I Still Dance, written for Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony. The piece premieres in San Francisco in September 2019 before touring to Amsterdam, New York, and London in March 2020.

This year Adams will receive Holland's prestigious Erasmus Prize, “for contributions to European culture,” the only American composer ever chosen for this award. Adams has additionally received honorary doctorates from Harvard, Yale, Northwestern University, Cambridge University, and the Juilliard School. Since 2009 he has held the position of Creative Chair with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. A provocative writer, he is author of the highly acclaimed autobiography Hallelujah Junction and is a contributor to the New York Times Book Review.

As a conductor of his own works and wide variety of repertoire, Adams has appeared with the Berliner Philharmoniker, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Wiener Symphoniker, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the orchestras of Seattle, Cincinnati, Atlanta, and Toronto.

August 2019
This biography can be reproduced free of charge in concert programs with the following credit: Reprinted by kind permission of Boosey & Hawkes.

Long Biography:
Composer, conductor, and creative thinker—John Adams occupies a unique position in the world of American music. His works, both operatic and symphonic, stand out among contemporary classical compositions for their depth of expression, brilliance of sound, and the profoundly humanist nature of their themes.

Works spanning more than three decades have entered the repertoire and are among the most performed of all contemporary classical music, among them Harmonielehre, Shaker Loops, Chamber Symphony, Doctor Atomic Symphony, Short Ride in a Fast Machine, and his Violin Concerto. His stage works, all in collaboration with director Peter Sellars, include Nixon in China (1987), The Death of Klinghoffer (1991), El Niño (2000), Doctor Atomic (2005), A Flowering Tree (2006), and the Passion oratorio The Gospel According to the Other Mary (2012). Adams’s latest opera Girls of the Golden West, set during the 1850s California Gold Rush, premiered at San Francisco Opera in 2017 before traveling to the Dutch National Opera in February 2019 for its European premiere.

Adams’s new piano concerto Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes?, written for soloist Yuja Wang, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Gustavo Dudamel, premiered in 2019 and continues to tour this season, with performances Edinburgh, London, New York City, Paris, Amsterdam, St. Louis, and Seattle. The season also sees the world premiere of Adams’s new orchestral work I Still Dance, written for Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony. The piece premieres in San Francisco in September 2019 before touring to Amsterdam, New York, and London in March 2020.

This year Adams will receive Holland's prestigious Erasmus Prize, “for contributions to European culture,” the only American composer ever chosen for this award. In 2019, Adams received the BBVA Frontiers of Knowledge Award for Music and Opera in recognition of the communicative power of his works, especially through their treatment of current events. Other awards include the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for composing On the Transmigration of Souls, commissioned by the New York Philharmonic to commemorate the first anniversary of 9/11 and the 1993 Grawemeyer Award for his Violin Concerto. Adams has additionally received honorary doctorates from Harvard, Yale, Northwestern University, Cambridge University, the Juilliard School, and the Royal Academy of Music. A provocative writer, he is author of the highly acclaimed autobiography Hallelujah Junction and is a contributor to the New York Times Book Review.

As a conductor, Adams appears with the world’s major orchestras in programs combining his own works with a wide variety of repertoire ranging from Beethoven and Mozart to Ives, Carter, Zappa, Glass, and Ellington. In recent seasons, he has conducted the Berliner Philharmoniker, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Wiener Symphoniker, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the orchestras of Seattle, Cincinnati, Atlanta, and Toronto. In the current season Adams will return as guest conductor with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, the Netherlands Radio Orchestra, the Seattle and St. Louis Symphony Orchestras and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where since 2008 he has held the position of Creative Chair.

In 2018, Nonesuch Records released the world premiere recording of Doctor Atomic, with Adams conducting the BBC Singers and BBC Symphony Orchestra; as well as a recording of his Violin Concerto performed by Leila Josefowicz, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, and David Robertson. Other recent releases include the Berliner Philharmoniker’s “John Adams Edition,” a 2017 box set of live performances conducted by Adams, Gustavo Dudamel, Alan Gilbert, Kirill Petrenko, and Sir Simon Rattle; Scheherazade.2 with Josefowicz and St. Louis Symphony on Nonesuch Records; a Grammy-winning album featuring Harmonielehre and Short Ride in a Fast Machine with San Francisco Symphony, and the Nonesuch DVD of the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Nixon in China conducted by the composer.

Together with his wife, the photographer Deborah O’Grady, Adams has created the Pacific Harmony Foundation, which funds young composers, ensembles and music education outreach.

The official John Adams website is www.earbox.com.

August 2019
This biography can be reproduced free of charge in concert programs with the following credit: Reprinted by kind permission of Boosey & Hawkes.

 

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