Tag Archives: John Coolidge Adams

My Year In Music 2013

CDs Full PB269441_edited-1This year, I’m even more relieved than last year that I’m not a professional critic assigned to assemble a “top ten” music list for 2013. Instead, here is a year-end offering of highlights from my personal musical journey throughout the year.

I also want to recognize the composer and musicians who participated in This Life in Music profiles during 2013: Maxwell J McKee, Sabrina Tabby, Dávid Adam NagyLucy Dhegrae, and Amy Garapic, as well as composer Dylan Mattingly, for his guest post on his new work, The Bakkhai (a report on the premiere of The Bakkhai is included in this post). It was a pleasure and privilege to present each of them on Prufrock’s Dilemma. Thanks to all! Continue reading

Lucky Sydney (Australia)

August 22 and 23, 2013, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, with John Adams conducting, will premiere Adams’s Saxophone Concerto, with the stupendous Timothy McAllister on saxophone. McAllister spoke with SoundNotion in an entertaining and wide-ranging conversation about the Saxophone Concerto, Adam’s previous piece featuring McAllister, City Noir, as well as “style, artistry and [calling all music nerds and fellow travelers] how a piece can rock even without slap tonguing.” Continue reading

Just Walking Around in John Adams’s City Noir

Adams NSO IMG_0294_edited-2Melodies appear as inexplicably as a dirty blond in Philip Marlowe’s office.
—Mark Swed, reviewing City Noir

The first time I visited Los Angeles, a friend took me to a favorite taco place, a low-slung building trapped under a freeway labyrinth. Another time, I was part of a Writers Guild negotiations team. In my infirm recollection, nighttime had a feel at once seedy and glamorous: swank hotels cheek by jowl with crumbling stucco buildings, sidewalks empty of walkers, sulfurous street lamps piercing the dark. The city seemed an unnavigable maze, with a culture I couldn’t fathom. Continue reading

What Makes Music Great?

Composer Benjamin Britten

Composer Benjamin Britten

In London right now, a festival is going on that surveys twentieth century music and takes its theme and title from Alex Ross’s excellent book, The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century. Related to the festival, David Nice has written a fascinating post, The Rest is Tonal, which has spawned a lively discussion about, among many things, the “importance  of introducing new ideas” (innovation), on the one hand, and the “importance of expression,” on the other. I began by writing a comment on that post, but it became too long for that purpose, so what began as a comment there is now a post of its own here. Continue reading

The Gospel According to John Adams

The Gospel According to the Other Mary, Act 1, Scene 5: Passover Scene © 2013 Richard Termine.

The Gospel According to the Other Mary, Act 1, Scene 5: Passover Scene © 2013 Richard Termine.

Each of us has been a slave in Egypt,
Soaked straw and clay with sweat,
And crossed the sea dry-footed.
You too, stranger.
This year in fear and shame,
Next year in virtue and in justice.

—Primo Levi, from Passover

When I first encountered John Adams’s opera, Nixon in China, I had Nixon neatly stored away as disgraced and thoroughly disgraceful. Why anyone would want to glorify him in an opera was incomprehensible to me.

Then I listened to the opera. Continue reading