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John Adams (Composer)
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    (February 15, 1947- )
    Born in Worcester, Massachusetts
    Composed the operas 'Nixon in China' (1987), 'The Death of Klinghoffer' (1991) and 'Doctor Atomic' (2005)
    Other compositions include 'American Standard' (1973), 'Shaker Loops' (1978), 'Harmonium' (1980), 'Short Ride in a Fast Machine' (1986), 'The Wound Dresser' (1989), 'Violin Concerto' (1993), 'Naive and Sentimental Music' (1998), 'On the Transmigration of Souls' (2002), 'The Dharma at Big Sur' (2003) and 'My Father Knew Charles Ives' (2003)
    He said that when he begins working on a composition, 'I'm the most unpleasant person to be around: grumpy, uncommunicative, selfish.'
    He admitted to a tendency to procrastinate and combated it by installing a program to block him from checking emails or surfing the web during work hours.
    His works about recent events have been dismissed as 'CNN operas.'
    His opera 'The Death of Klinghoffer' was criticized as antisemitic by the daughters of Leon Klinghoffer.
    He complained to the New York Times, 'What I’m concerned with is people that are 20, 30 years younger than me are sort of writing down to a cultural level that’s very, very vacuous and very superficial,' then admitted, 'I know that I sound like what [avant-garde composer] Elliott Carter sounded like when he talked about me.'
    While a student at Harvard, he conducted the Bach Society Orchestra and was a reserve clarinetist for the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
    He described his eclectic style as 'Beethoven and Rachmaninoff soak in the same warm bath with Liberace, Wagner, the Supremes, Charles Ives and John Philip Sousa.'
    His 'Nixon in China' became the most frequently performed modern opera.
    He said, 'If opera is going to be part of our lives, it has to deal with contemporary topics.'
    His commemoration of the victims of the 9/11 attacks, 'On the Transmigration of Souls,' won the Pulitzer Prize for Music and Grammy for Best Contemporary Composition.

Credit: C. Fishel

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