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 write. Composers(…)

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 published(…)


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, Igor(…)

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