Composer

John Adams

Composer, conductor, and creative thinker John Adams, occupies a unique position in the world of 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. Works spanning more than three decades are among the most performed of all contemporary classical music, among them Nixon in China, Harmonielehre, Doctor Atomic, Shaker Loops, El Niño, Short Ride in a Fast Machine and The Dharma at Big Sur.

His stage works, all in collaboration with director Peter Sellars, have transformed the genre of contemporary music theater. Of Adams’ best-known opera, the New Yorker magazine wrote Not since Porgy and Bess has an American opera won such universal acclaim as Nixon in China.’

Nonesuch Records has recorded all of Adams’ music over the past three decades, with numerous Grammy awards among them. A recording of the complete Doctor Atomic, with Adams conducting the BBC Symphony, was released in July 2018.

As conductor, Adams leads the world’s major orchestras in repertoire that from Beethoven and Mozart to Stravinsky, Ives, Carter, Zappa, Glass and Ellington. He led Rome’s Orchestra of Santa Cecilia in his oratorio The Gospel According to the Other Mary in 2018.

Born and raised in New England, Adams learned the clarinet from his father and played in marching bands and community orchestras during his formative years. He began composing at age ten and his first orchestral pieces were performed while just a teenager. 

Adams has received honorary doctorates from Yale, Harvard, Northwestern, Cambridge and The Juilliard School. A provocative writer, he is author of the highly acclaimed autobiography Hallelujah Junction and is a frequent contributor to the New York Times Book Review. Adams is Creative Chair of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.