John Adams | Deborah O'Grady

John Adams

United States

John Adams

(Born in 1947)

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 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.

In 2019, Adams received 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.

Adams’s 2019 piano concerto Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes? was recently recorded by pianist Yuja Wang with the LA Phil and Gustavo Dudamel, and released by Deutsche Grammophon.


Reprinted by kind permission of Boosey & Hawkes