John Adams

How Composers Learn, Part 2

This entry is part 3 of 10 in the series Greatest Hits

This entry is part 3 of 10 in the series Greatest Hits(For the season, and my Winter Fundraiser, I’m reposting some old favorites.) They read, and they write, and not music. They read books about all sorts of things other than music. They gather material, experience, knowledge, ideas. They react to these things. And they(…)

The Latest

Paucity of posts does not mean lack of content. Solo parenting for a month meant I only got out to one concert, but it was notable, and I still produced a good amount of work, here’s where to find it: At the New York Classical Review, read my preview of The Death of Klinghoffer and my review of opening night(…)


I say “yes” to these sentiments from my colleague Christian Carey over at Sequenza21. He’s responding to a strange article in the New York Times about John Adams’ new saxophone concerto. But the piece actually turned out to be a chance for Adams to moan about an unnamed but obvious successful young composer and for(…)

The Dude Ambles By

John Adams, *City Noir,* Gustavo Dudamel & the Los Angeles Philharmonic Gustav Mahler, *Symphony No. 9,* Gustavo Dudamel & the Los Angeles Philharmonic Gustavo Dudamel & the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Avery Fisher Hall: March 27, 2013; John Adams, The Gostpel According to the Other Mary March 28, 2013; Claude Vivier, Zipangu, Claude Debussy, La Mer,(…)

Maverick Media

American Mavericks is in full swing here in New York City. I have some mixed feelings about Monday’s San Francisco Symphony concert — I’m not sure what John Adams was thinking when he made Absolute Jest, and it’s hard to square Jessye Norman’s substantial career with a performance of John Cage’s Song Books — the(…)

San Francisco Symphony, Adams: Harmonielehre, Short Ride in a Fast Machine

In 1996, I went to a San Francisco Symphony concert with a good friend. The program was generally typical of orchestra concerts around the world; an overture, a concerto, intermission, a symphony. In the details, however, lay the brilliance of Michael Tilson Thomas’ musicianship, attitude and salesmanship (a vtial talent for a music director): Rossini’s(…)

October Light Playlist

Wolfgang Mitterer, Music for Checking e-mails Alvin Lucier, Almost New York; There are some lovely drone/tuning pieces on here from Lucier. “Twonings” sets cello against piano, the stringed instrument at times matching the piano note while at others the cellist plays a sharp or flat microtone, setting up Lucier’s characteristic sonic beating. Having two live musicians playing,(…)

Musical Misremembrance & 9/11

Basinski’s piece is an accidental one, the sound produced from the process of old magnetic tapes literally falling apart on each pass by the play head on a tape recorder. The composer says the project ended on the morning of 9/11. It’s a piece about physical decay, dissipation, the loss of records and memories. Ten years later, that’s what we have left.

Nixon In China

During the second intermission of the Saturday night performance of John Adams’ opera Nixon in China at the Met, I remarked to a composer in attendance that this was the first time I had seen the work staged and, even though I knew the music well from recordings and the score, it seemed as if(…)

Baby Playlist #1

Mozart Sonatas K332/300k, K333/315c, K457 Die Zauberflöte (recommended recording ) John Adams; Grand Pianola Music Steve Reich: Variations for WInds, Strings and Keyboards, Music for Mallet Instruments, Voices and Organ, Six Pianos UPDATED: Now with cute picture of baby as Eustace Tilley