Spotlight on…John Adams

Posted on: October 16, 2012 in: Spotlight on...

We compare and contrast the life of John Adams with that of Igor Stravinsky in our previous blog post, ahead of our concert on Thursday night at Cadogan Hall.

John Coolidge Adams



His father taught him how to play the clarinet, and he was a clarinetist in community ensembles as a young boy. He began composing at the age of ten with his music first performed publically when he was 14 years old. Studied at Harvard University where he was awarded two degrees. He received the 2003 Pulitzer Prize in Music for his orchestral work, On the Transmigration of Souls, a memorial to the September 11 attacks.


Image: Margaret Mitchell

Breakthrough Moment
Acknowledged for bringing contemporary history to the opera house with his post-modern operatic works Nixon in China (1987), The Death of Klinghoffer (1991) and Doctor Atomic (2005). A recent survey shows him to be the most frequently performed living American composer of orchestral music.

CLS performance
Gnarly Buttons
is his concerto for clarinet and small orchestra, written for and premiered by our Principal Conductor Michael Collins, and featuring the banjo, mandolin and guitar! Grand Pianola Music was inspired by a dream in which he found himself driving down Interstate 5, being approached by two of the world’s longest Steinways! It unusually features two pianos and three female voices sing a wordless harmony.

Stravinsky & John Adams
Thursday 18 October, 7.30pm
Cadogan Hall, London

Stravinsky Octet
John Adams Gnarly Buttons
John Adams Grand Pianola Music

Tickets from £15
Box Office: 020 7730 4500/