Not to be confused with the second President of the United States, John Adams was a Pulitzer Prize winning American composer whose minimalist style brought new breadth and vision to contemporary class...
Worcester, Massachusetts, USA
|Won the Pulitzer Prize for Music for "On the Transmigration of Souls"|
|Premiere of "Nixon in China"|
|Premiere of "The Death of Klinghoffer"|
|Worked on the soundtrack for Martin Scorsese's "Shutter Island"|
|Premiere of "Doctor Atomic"|
Not to be confused with the second President of the United States, John Adams was a Pulitzer Prize winning American composer whose minimalist style brought new breadth and vision to contemporary classical music. A New England native and Harvard graduate, some of Adams' more notable works include the historical operas "Nixon in China" (1987) and "Doctor Atomic" (2005), the latter of which was inspired by Robert Oppenheimer and the building of the first atomic bomb, as well as 2002's "On the Transmigration of Souls," which earned him the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Music. An equally accomplished film composer, Adams worked on Martin Scorsese's 2010 thriller "Shutter Island," in addition to various other television shows and mini-series. Thus, for his ability to make waves in mediums outside classical music, whether it be film, television, or the stage, John Adams rose to become one of the more diversified composers in the modern era.
An incredibly precocious child, Adams started performing on the clarinet at concert halls throughout New England at the age of 13. He continued his musical education at Harvard in the mid 1960s while additionally serving as a reserve clarinetist for the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Opera Company of Boston. After graduating from Harvard in 1971, Adams moved west upon taking a teaching position at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He composed several well-known post-minimalist works over the next several years, including "Shaker Loops" (1978), "Grand Pianola" (1982) and "Harmonielehre" (1984-85), the latter of which was inspired by a dream he had involving an airborne oil tanker. In 1987 Adams composed his first, and still best known, opera, "Nixon in China," which recounted President Richard Nixon's historic 1972 visit to the communist country. Adams continued producing work at a prodigious rate throughout the '90s and 2000s, most notably "On the Transmigration of Souls," a moving orchestral piece in commemoration of the victims of the September 11th terrorist attacks. "On the Transmigration of Souls" also earned him 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Music. The latter part of the decade saw Adams receive acclaim for his 2005 opera "Doctor Atomic," which centered on the various personalities involved in the Manhattan Project, while also being recognized by the film community for his work on the soundtrack to Martin Scorsese's celebrated thriller "Shutter Island," in 2010. Furthermore, in addition to his musical output, Adams was also an accomplished writer, contributing pieces on music to the New York Times Book Review, The London Times, and The New Yorker.
|"My roots are profoundly affected by American popular music, jazz, ragtime, swing, rock. I'm not a quoter, nor a musical chameleon like William Bolcom, but my personal style does not deny its roots. In today's so-called classical music, we've lost track of the vernacular." -- from Opera News, October 1987|
|After graduating from Harvard in 1972, Adams served as a musical producer for PBS -- a position he held throughout the 1970s.|
|A New England native, Adams relocated to San Francisco in the early 1970s and has lived there ever since.|
|Is known for his minimalist style of composing.|
|A native of Massachusetts, Adams was deeply influenced by New England's vast and eclectic musical culture|
|John Adams' success caused a slightly younger post-minimalist composer to go by his full name, John Luther Adams.|
|Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences|
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